Monday June 26th 2017

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Let the Revolution Begin….in Detroit?

Today I am off to Detroit to attend the U.S. Social Forum.  What’s that?  It is more or less a regional version of the World Social Forum.  Not very helpful, huh?  Try this (from Wikipedia):

The World Social Forum

The World Social Forum (WSF) is an annual meeting, based in Brazil, that defines itself as “an opened space – plural, diverse, non-governmental and non-partisan – that stimulates the decentralized debate, reflection, proposals building, experiences exchange and alliances among movements and organizations engaged in concrete actions towards a more solidary, democratic and fair world….a permanent space and process to build alternatives to neoliberalism”.[1]

It is held by members of the alter-globalization movement (also referred to as the global justice movement) who come together to coordinate world campaigns, share and refine organizing strategies, and inform each other about movements from around the world and their issues. It tends to meet in January at the same time as its “great capitalist rival”, the World Economic Forum’s meeting in Davos, Switzerland. This date is usually picked in hopes that having a meeting that promotes alternative answers to world economic problems opposite the World Economic Forum will help the WSF’s ideas get better coverage in the news media.

Seth Freed Wessler gives a nice summary of what it will look like (full article here):

as many as 20,000 of these progressives—lefties, radicals, liberals, agnostic independents and the rest—are expected to arrive in Detroit this week for the second U.S. Social Forum. It’s the domestic outgrowth of the the World Social Forum, which can be understood as Davos for those not convinced that markets alone can solve the globe’s problems.


The gathering will run all week and will consist of panels, workshops, marches, mixers and work on the ground in Detroit. It promises to pull people from across movements, generations and regions and will be about as multiracial as the country it’s about. It’s raison d’être: To “declare what we want our world to look like and … start planning the path to get there.”

More on the US Social Forum (from their website):
The purpose of the USSF is to effectively and affirmatively articulate the 
values and strategies of a growing and vibrant movement for justice in the United States. Those who build towards and participate in the USSF are no 
longer interested in simply stating what social justice movements
 “stand-against,” rather we see ourselves as part of new movements that reach
 beyond national borders, that practice democracy at all levels, and understand 
that neo-liberalism abroad and here in the US is not the solution. The USSF 
provides a first major step towards such articulation of what we stand for.


Why Detroit?


To win nationally, we must win in places like Detroit. The Midwest site of 
the USSF marks a fierce resistance movement for social, racial, gender, and
 economic justice. Detroit has the highest unemployment of any major city in the 
country—23.2% (March 2009)—with nearly one in four Detroiters unable to find
 work. Michigan has had the highest number of unemployed people in all 50 states
 for nearly four years. Thousands of living wage jobs have been permanently lost
 in the automotive industry and related sectors. Some think that it will take at 
least until 2025 for Michigan to recover from the economic collapse and social
 dislocation.

What is happening in Detroit and in Michigan is happening all
 across the United States. Detroit is a harbinger for what we must do in our communities!
 As grassroots activists and organizers, we work to address the indignities 
against working families and low-income people, and protect our human right to 
the basic necessities of life. In Detroit, we can make change happen!

The US Social Forum provides this space—drawing participants from
 different regions, ethnicities, sectors and ages across the U.S. and its 
colonies. Community-based organizations, Indigenous nations, immigrants, 
independent workers organizations, unions, unemployed, youth, children, elders,
 queers, differently-abled, international allies, academics, and advocacy organizations will be able to come together in Detroit for dialogues, 
reflection and to define future strategies.

This is my first time attending a social forum gathering.  It brings togethers the leaders of movements from all around the world as people begin to organize to create a different world.  A world where peopole do not abdicate all reasoning to “market forces.”  A world beyond capitalism.  A world where people have equal rights, true political power….basically the world that we all dream about but the one that most of us gave up as fantasy upon reaching adulthood.  These are the people out there standing up to the corporations, fighting unfair economic and political systems, and fightring for environmental, economic, and political justice one community at a time.

I imagine that I won’t find to many Tea Party members at these sessions, unless they are there to protest against them.

My beret is packed; let the revolution begin!

Learn more about the US Social Forum Here

Here is the Program that will be explored during the 5 day event:  ( A detailed summary can be found here)

USSF 2010 – 14 Major Program Tracks




1. CAPITALISM IN CRISIS: TEARING DOWN POVERTY, BUILDING ECONOMIC ALTERNATIVES & A SOLIDARITY ECONOMY


a. Poverty on the rise: Un- and Under-employed, Underpaid, and Underground
b. Privatization and Failures of Public Goods: Health Care, Education, Water, Electricity
c. Debt-based Economy: Foreclosures and Credit
d. What is a Solidarity Economy? Bringing together international and domestic economic strategies to create models based on solidarity, equity, and justice.
e. Fighting for New Economic Practices: Green Jobs, Living Wage, Fair Trade, Community Land Trusts, and Cooperative Solutions
f. 21st Century Socialism, the Commons Movement, and others

2. CLIMATE JUSTICE: SUSTAINABILITY, RESOURCES AND LAND
a. Building Power, Resiliency and Sustainability through Ecological, Social, Energy and Environmental Justice Movement
b. Transition from Oil and Fossil Fuel Economy towards Ecologically Clean, Renewable and Sustainable Alternative Energy.
c. Food security, Agriculture & Small Farms
d. Water Rights & Access
e. Waste and Toxics/ Corporate Polluting & Regulations
f. Exploitation of Natural Resources, Climate Change and Environmental & Community Destruction (disaster and loss of biological and cultural diversity)

3. INDIGENOUS SOVEREIGNTY
a. Domestic and International Movements for the Rights of Indigenous People’s, Self-Determination, Treaty Rights and Sovereignty.
b. Struggles for land, forests, water, and economic, social and environmental justice.
c. Indigenous movement and leadership in social movements.

4. DISPLACEMENT, MIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION
a. Gentrification and Housing
b. Displaced Peoples: Internal Domestic Displacement (i.e. as a result of crises liek Katrina), People without citizenship and Environmental Refugees
c. Detention, Deportation and Sanctuary
d. Forced Migration: Human Trafficking, Migrant Work, Sex Slavery
e. Domestic and International Movements for Reparations and Landless Peoples

5. DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNANCE
a. Relationship between social movements and electoral politics
b. Rebuilding Society: current experiments and future alternatives
c. Federal and state takeover of local governance
d. Radical Democracy

6. TO THE RIGHT: INTERNATIONALLY AND DOMESTICALLY
a. Exposing Right wing strategies, diverse interests, and structure; use of Left tactics and racist responses
b. Dividing communities with a Moral Agenda: Against LGBT rights, Reproductive Rights and Gender Justice
c. Attacks on the Left domestically and internationally
d. Right-wing on the rise internationally: electing fascist leaders and parties
e. President Obama: What it means & what it doesn’t; what does Center forces mean for social movements

7. TO THE LEFT: BUILDING A MOVEMENT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE: INTERSECTIONS AND ALLIANCES ACROSS RACE, CLASS, GENDER, SEXUALITY, AGE, ABILITY
a. Building Alliances and Leadership in all generations, culture, race, genders and other differences
b. Confronting & Undoing Systemic Oppression: Racism, White Supremacy, Patriarchy, Class Oppression, Heterosexism, Ableism and other systems
c. Building alliances across locations and political borders (local, national, rural, urban, nations, Indigenous Nations)
d. Creating healthier relationships between people, inside organizations and in movements

8. STRATEGIES FOR BUILDING POWER & ENSURING COMMUNITY NEEDS (Housing, Education, Jobs, Clean Air…)
a. Non violent Direct Action
b. Grassroots organizing
c. Electoral organizing
d. Left/revolutionary organization building
e. Education Organizing, Popular Education and Consciousness Raising
f. Using Human Rights framework
g. Self determination struggles
h. Faith based organizing
i. Advocacy, Legal Strategies, Policy

9. ORGANIZING A LABOR MOVEMENT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY: CRISIS AND OPPORTUNITIES
a. U.S. Workforce: Job Elimination, Cutbacks and Layoffs
b. State of Organized Labor Movement
c. Independent Worker’s Movements, Centers & Radical Labor Organizing
d. Building A Movement for All Workers: Alliance Building amongst Organized Labor, Workers Excluded from Labor Protections, Unorganized Labor, Immigrant Workers, Undocumented Workers, and others.

10. MEDIA JUSTICE, COMMUNICATIONS, & CULTURE
a. Culture as resistance and resilience
b. Art Activism and Cultural Events
c. Generating our own media, sharing our stories, popularizing our messages
d. Corporate Media and Media Consolidation
e. Communications and organizing

11. TRANSFORMATIVE JUSTICE, HEALING, AND ORGANIZING
a. Liberatory approaches to ending violence
b. Converging personal and political transformation in social movements
c. Creating effective organizing models based in transformative values
d. Prison and abolition: alternatives to prison, transformation of communities most impacted by prison industry, and building political power of ex-offenders
e. Spirituality and healing for renewal and resistance

12. ENDLESS WAR: MILITARIZATION, CRIMINALIZATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
a. Prisons, policing and military recruitment of poor communities & young people
b. Homeland security: detention, rollback of civil rights, and repression of social movements
c. War and Occupation and US Intervention
d. Mobilizing Fear to Justify Endless War & Intervention: Islamophobia, sanctions, red-baiting, moral values
e. Building a strong anti-war movement

13. INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY AND RESPONSIBILITY: BUILDING A UNIFIED RESPONSE TO GLOBAL CRISES
a. From Detroit to Dakar, 2011 – Building Solidarity and Movement Nationally and Internationally
b. Palestine: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
c. Building Alternative Poles of Power (for example, Latin America bloc or other alliances in countries & continents)
d. Global Justice versus Free Trade
e. Challenging US roles in international bodies (i.e. United Nations, NATO, WTO, G20 and others)

14. DETROIT AND THE RUST BELT
a. Race and Class Oppression in Detroit
b. Technology and the Decline of the Manufacturing Industry
c. Community and Labor responses: labor organizing, converting condemned manufacturing facilities
d. Revitalization of Detroit and other communities
e. Take Action: work brigades, solidarity projects

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