July 12, 2010
Going to the U.S. Social Forum (USSF), reinforced my understanding that we/I are part of economic and social justice movements that are active in every part of this country; it made me feel part of a movement(s) that is alive and not insignificant nationally. It inspired me and gave me more hope. For example, I knew about the unemployment and poverty statistics for Detroit before arriving but much less about the activism and organizing, the fight back going on in Detroit. I really valued the racial and age diversity at the USSF.
The contingent from Olympia, Washington numbered about 70 and we hope to share our diverse experiences at the Social Forum with each other and the broader Olympia community in the near future.
At the social forum, it was hard choosing among the many workshops and tracks. I found very valuable attending and participating in workshops dealing with ALBA (the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), on the Cochabamba Climate Change Conference and organizing for the Climate Change meetings in Cancun later this year, and on connecting and building solidarity between social movements in the United States and Latin America. There were some really inspiring organizers from Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela and from Latino/a communities in the United States at these workshops. I also attended a few insightful workshops dealing with developing strategies about how to get to a society that is not capitalist and the key institutions and structures of this alternative, e.g., the workshops put on by the Organization for a Free Society.
My favorite activity was the spirited march the first day of the United States Social Forum, Tuesday afternoon, June 22nd. What stood out to me during this powerful march were the large contingents from the Domestic Workers organization and the Restaurant Workers organizing (ROC) group. There was definitely a presence of low wage workers and good discussion about their organizing at the Social Forum.
From the people, I spoke to while in Detroit and with others whom I talked to since returning who had attended the USSF, some good networking took place, and people feel energized and with renewed purpose. Everyone is glad they attended. On the other hand, there does not seem to have been much progress in developing a program or strategy for moving forward towards a better society nor was the weakness of the U.S. anti-war movement addressed in any depth.