– Sílvia Plans, Xènia Berrio, Paola Sancho and Esther Sancho-
Oriol Codina Puig is a member of the ANC National Secretariat and the coordinator of the Logistics Committee. He has been the head of the 11S demonstration during the last 2 years and he has also participated in the organization of the previous ones. We decided to contact him since such demonstrations require an important logistics planning and organization that is quite different from the industrial companies’ ones.
We have been pleased to spend an afternoon with him and he has explained us a lot of details about how is like preparing such a mass event.
Good afternoon Oriol, first of all, thanks for receiving us. It is a pleasure for us to talk with someone as you since you are the person who successfully managed the latest most important demonstrations in Catalonia. The first question we would like to ask you is:
- How and why did you start being part of the ANC?
This is my second year in the Assemblea Nacional Catalana. I started participating in 2013 in the delegation of the ANC in Badalona. I increasingly got more involved and, when the former coordinator of mobilizations left the charge, I offered to be the new coordinator.
When I am working in the ANC I don’t feel as if I am working in a firm because it’s my second home. We are all co-workers, but most importantly, we are friends.
- How much time does it take to prepare a large-scale event like the ones that you have been recently organizing?
The idea is developed on April each year, when we have the meeting of the board directors.
I have not had holidays this year since we started preparing the demonstrations and all the acts involved late; we started at the end of July but we should have started on May.
There is a lot of work involved in the preparation such as talking with the merchandising managers, seek to volunteers, decide which acts will take place on the demonstration… So at least, we need between 2 and 4 months.
- This year the mobilization has been characterized by being decentralized in five different points. In terms of logistics, what is the difference between making a single concentration as the one organized last year or a decentralized concentration as the one of this year?
Well, it has been more challenging because it has supposed to multiply our organizing structure per 5. Even though, it’s not exactly multiplying per 5 because the core of the organization is centralized in Barcelona; it’s still a national coordination. It’s not that each of the five locations has organized its demonstrations. We organize ourselves in a pyramidal way. Headquarter is in Barcelona and it is where the main project is developed.
This year, the fact that the demonstration has been in five points, has supposed the need of having five coordinators, which have then organized the delegation they were managing.
- What are the steps involved in such an organizational process?
First of all we need to know what we are going to do and how we are going to do so. As a consequence, the first step is asking our partners for proposals and do like a kind of brainstorming.
Then we analyze each proposal in order to determine if it is possible in terms of resources, geographical spaces, amount of people, etc. and we come to a decision taking into account some of these ideas.
The process starts in April but we are not ready to organize everything until July because that is when we really know almost all the details, so it takes approximately 4 months.
The process is divided into 5 steps which are the following:
- Consulting process: brainstorming
- Selection and analysis of the proposals
- Announcement and presentation of the project in the General Assembly
- Development of the project and presentation of a paper including all the details
- Organizational tasks: merchandising, communication, logistics, citizen security (Mossos d’Esquadra), talking with the associations like Castellers, music bands…
- We can imagine that there have been a lot many suggestions so which has been the craziest ones?
Well some people suggested whistling all together at the same time such as the “independence whistle” or jumping to create the “independence earthquake”. They are all interesting indeed but not all of them are good for our purpose.
We should underline the fact that it is not the first time we organize this event and being innovative becomes more difficult from time to time.
- Did you forecast the demand of buses or shirts before ordering?
Each delegation takes into account the demand of the previous years in order to decide how many buses they are going to rent but they can order more if necessary. The demand has lowered this year because the demonstration was not just in Barcelona but it has not varied too much from one year to another. We are in charge of the control and management of the passengers to the buses.
In the case of the shirts, we do forecast the demand using the data of the previous years. Due to the fact that in 2013 was the first year in which we design an exclusive t-shirt for the 11S we did not do any forecast because there was not historical data. Since 2014, it was possible to do forecast because we have historical data.
In some areas, the demand was larger than the expected and we run out of stock of different sizes. It was necessary to make new orders but not with the same supplier because the supplier did not have such huge amount of t-shirts in such a short lead time, so we order to other suppliers. We always take into account minimum 200.000 people to demand the t-shirt.
- Merchandising is an important part of such mass mobilization. How do you manage and distribute all the items?
We produce canvas, flags, fliers and t-shirts, but these last ones are the most important since they are used as a project communication and as a financial tool.
We order some t-shirts initially and then we manage the printing with other companies, the package and the transport (MRW). We distribute them to the different delegations, exclusive sales points, supermarkets, digital newspapers or Abacus and we also distribute it via internet. Every year we have to deal with the problematic of looking for local Catalan suppliers but it is not possible to make deals with such suppliers because of the lack of time and the huge quantity of stock that we need. However, the t-shirt printing is done by local suppliers.
In conclusion, I would say that the most important issue in terms of logistics is the time to make a good planning and forecasting mostly if you want to prepare a multitudinous event like this.
- How do you plan and manage the citizen security? Is there the presence of Mossos d’Esquadra and also private security?
We have a strict coordination with security due to its importance. We make preliminary meetings with public security forces (Mossos d’Esquadra) establishing WHAT will be done in the manifestation, WHERE the demonstration is going to take place and WHEN. Security forces make an evaluation of the possible impact of the mobilization, design the security protocols, adapt public zones to it and transmit the monitoring to us.
Not only there is the presence of Mossos d’Esquadra but also we count with trained security volunteers, private security, president and important people bodyguards and Guàrdia Urbana.
We are coordinated also with Mossos d’Esquadra in order to deal with public transport. Fo example, we talk with TMB and Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya for increasing the public transport frequency in order to improve the mobility of the citizens along the mobilization.
To sum up, they do what they would do in any other demonstration or mass meeting that is done in the street and we complement this until where we want.
- What are the factors that you use in order to decide whether the demonstration will take place?
If it is in Barcelona, what we do is to search for main roads like Passeig de Gràcia, Diagonal, Gran Via, Meridiana, etc. The first year it is always uncertain because you don’t know how many people there will be, but from here on, according to the data of the other years, you know more or less the space you need for.
This year, as it was done in 5 different places, it has been more complicated to forecast the people who would go to every place. We have divided by 5 all the space that we look for in Barcelona, although the space in Barcelona had to be big as always because it is always expected to fill, and what we have done is to look that the environment was viable: if it was well located regarding the infrastructures, it it was well suitable and if it was well distributed on the map.
Definitely, the place is very conditioned to the characteristics of the project per se.
- Have you taken into account the movement and the politic situation when making the forecasts?
Making this assessment is difficult because people get more tired from time to time and it becomes harder to keep them enthusiastic and collaborative. Even so, we have the obligation, because we believe in it, to continue doing so.
At the beginning, some of them are hesitating about coming or not but finally most of them do. However, it has not been a coincidence the division of this year in 5 points since we wanted the people to be close to their home and it was easier for them to take part on it.
Therefore yes, in some way, we take into account the current situation and the fact of trying to make it creative and different with respect to the other years is a request that we put to ourselves to avoid the exhaustion.
- Do you ask for feedback after the demonstrations?
Yes, first and foremost we make an internal evaluation so we request the people who have been more involved and then we ask the National Secretariat and the associates of the territorials.
In most of the cases, people complain about something we can do nothing about, but sometimes we realize that some problems are highly related with the lack of organization time and deficits in planning so that is one of the things