Oakland’s Road to Detroit: US Social Forum briefing


Oakland’s “Road to Detroit” was launched Tuesday night at a meeting about the US Social Forum, hosted at the Workforce Collaborative. From June 22-36, thousands of individuals and organizations from all over the country will converge in Detroit to share solutions to the economic and ecological crises. The meeting was meant as a briefing for those just entering into the forum process and as a place to get next steps and information for those who have already started planning.

The U.S. Social Forum is not a conference, a point repeatedly driven home by Alicia Garza, one of the faciliators, but rather a movement building process. The slogan of the United States Social Forum is “Another World is Possible, Another U.S. is necessary” and is seen by participants as a space of convergence where collaborations can be made and actions can be planned.

“It’s a movement building process. The idea behind the social forum is to bring together all of our different segments, all of our different sectors, all the work we’re doing, and strategize how we’re going to build a better world,” Garza said.

The Detroit convergence will tbe the second ever Forum in the United States; the first one was held in Atlanta in 2007. The US Social Forum is part of the wider World Social Forum process, started a decade ago and held in a different city in the global south each year at the same time world financial leaders meet for the World Economic Forum.

“It’s about time the people of the world got together because the corporations have been getting together and making their plans,” said Maria Poblet of Causa Justa/Just Cause.

During a discussion of what the Forum is and the reasons for participating, facilitators emphasized five tracks: 1)convergence, 2)action and transformation, 3)collaboration between movements, 4)international solidarity and common struggle, and 5)strengthening local capacity.

About 50-60 people attended and dozens of area organizations were represented, including Causa Justa/Just Cause, Bay Localize, People’s Grocery, POWER SF, Poor Magazine, Center for Political Education, Asian Pacific Islander Youth Promoting Advocacy and Leadeship (AYPAL)Catalyst Project, School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), Bay Area Code Pink, Peace and Freedom Party, La Raza Centro Legal, Bay Area Fair Trade Coalition, Youth Speaks, Making Contact/National Radio Project, Asian Committee for Reprodutive Justice, and the Green Party.

Takeaways:

A Bay Area-specific website: The Road to Detroit

Workshop proposals are due next week, April 20: If you plan on submitting an activity or a workshop, do it ASAP. You must be registered before submitting and the process for both is simple.

Detroit 101 Workshops: May 19 (SF) & May 28 (Oakland): In preparation for the Forum, SOUL, in conjunction with POWER and CJJC, is offering a free workshop to Bay Area organizations and individuals planning to attend the Forum in June. The workshop will cover the history and context of Detroit to better prepare USSF participants for engaging with the host city and the local movement. Contact sergio@schoolofunityandliberation.org to RSVP or get more info.

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