Sunday, August 20, 2006

Momentum Grows for the US Social Forum

Alice Lovelace

X http://www.yesmagazine.org/alblog/2006/08/momentum-grows-for-us-social-forum.html  (external link)

I just completed a report on the USSF process to date, and even I was impressed. After talking to all the working groups, local host committee working teams, and regional committees I was energized by the amazing depth and breadth of the work that is being done across this country. If you would like a copy of the USSF Update #1, send me an email at .

The Grassroots Global Justice Alliance initiated the US Social Forum process, shepherding the organizing process through the formation of the initial National Planning Committee (NPC) in August of 2004. The NPC for the United States Social Forum (USSF) has been working to assure that those most affected by the ravages of neoliberal policies are at the center of the organizing process. Participation in the organizing process has grown steadily over the past two years with more than 200 organizations participating in the 8 Working Groups and 10 Regional Committees.

On June 16 the Coordinating Committee of the United States Social Forum (USSF) met in Durham, NC and developed a set of recommendations for restructuring the planning process of the USSF. There have been some transitions among groups in the National Planning Committee (NPC). There are also a significant number of organizations that have become active in the Regional Committees and the Working Groups over the past year. The NPC will now be made up of more regional and working group representatives. In this way the NPC will be more reflective of the organizations active in the organizing process.

The Coordinating Committee will now be known as the USSF Organizing Committee, it will be made up of representatives from each of the regions and working groups. 3 additional categories of organizational participation have been created to reflect the broad support and participation in the USSF process.

These categories will be publicized on the USSF website and in USSF literature.

Movement Builders: Groups who will *Participate in the organizing work through the Working Groups or Regional Committees, *Raise money for the USSF, and *Mobilize people to USSF Movement Mobilizers: Groups who will *Endorse the USSF and *Mobilize people to participate in the USSF Supporters: Groups who will *Endorse the USSF and *Raise Money

I like the new direction because it creates several levels for participation that takes into account the diversity of structures and size of social justice and peace organization. If you think your organization would like to receive this document, again send me an email and I will shoot it out to you.

The other exciting news is we have heard from three organizations that plan to forgo their own annual meeting in 2007 and bring their entire membership to the social forum—adding their issues to the incredible program that is being planned. We know that other organizations are exploring the same possibility.

Speaking of the program—the Call for Proposals is expected to be on line by the end of August. Once an organization registers its people for the forum, they can submit as many proposals for programs as they like—we encourage organizations to partner around similar issues. The presentation format is up to the presenters, but we are encouraging formats that are interactive, such as panels, art-based activities, dialogues, story circles, role-plays, small group discussion, performance, etc.

This is a big move, this means we will begin to get a sneak preview of what to expect during the USSF by the end of the year. Along with the Call for Programs Proposal we will also post the Call for Submissions for the USSF Film Festival. In addition to the Film Festival a full array of performance arts and visual arts are planned around Atlanta.

Another wonderful addition to the mobilization work is the Women’s Caucus, chaired by Loretta Ross of SisterSong?. Loretta says, “We have a great cross-section of women of color groups – both national and local, as well as national and local mainstream and progressive women’s organizations. We have a good number of youth-led and youth-serving organizations, but we want to improve that number as well as more representatives from LGBTQ and organizations of people with disabilities and we’ll continue to work on both of those areas.”

The SouthWest? Regional Organizing Committee under the leadership of Regional Representative Ruben Solis—Southwest? Workers Union is preparing for the Border Social Forum - October 13-15, 2007- CD. Juarez, Chihuahua Mexico at the campus of the Autonomous University of CD Juarez (UACJ).

The idea of a Border Social Forum grew out the World Social Forum in Caracas, Venezuela in January 2006. A dozen organizations from Mexico and the US met over the proposal to organize an action to tear down the ‘Wall of Death’ on the US-Mexico border. In the agreements of Caracas, it was agreed by the organizations to hold the first Border Social Forum and the action against the ‘Wall of Death’.

The Organizing Committee of the Border Social Forum was founded at the February 18, 2006 meeting in CD Juarez. The Organizing Committee is made up by 25 organizations with the majority from New Mexico, Chihuahua, and Texas. More than 100 organizations have already endorsed the Border Social Forum. For information contact Rubén Solís or visit www.swunion.blogspot.com.

All of these activities are evidence of how those five days in Atlanta are beginning to take shape and form. See you in Atlanta June 27-July 1, 2007---if I don’t see you before!

Alice Lovelace Lead National Staff Organizer United States Social Forum www.ussocialforum.org