The US Social Forum (USSF) is a movement building process. It is not a conference but it is a space to come up with the peoples’ solutions to the economic and ecological crisis. The USSF is the next most important step in our struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and changes history.
We must declare what we want our world to look like and we must start planning the path to get there. The USSF provides spaces to learn from each others experiences and struggles, share our analysis of the problems our communities face, build relationships, and align with our international brothers and sisters to strategize how to reclaim our world.
1. Self-Organized Workshops
2. People's Movement Assemblies
4. Work Projects & Work Brigades
5. Detroit Expanded (DEX)
6. USSF Village & Canopies
7. Arts & Culture - Performances, Exhibitions, Film Festival
8. Children's Social forum & Youth Camp
9. Detroit Local Organizing
10. International Participation
11. Direct Action
12. Open Spaces
14. Grassroots Fundraising
What are the goals of the USSF?
At a NPC meeting in Atlanta 2009, we drafted and affirmed these five goals for USSF 2010:
-- Create a space for social movement convergence and strategic discussion.
-- Advance social movements agenda for action and transformation.
-- Build stronger relationships and collaboration between movements.
-- Deepen our commitment to international solidarity and common struggle.
-- Strengthen local capacity to improve social conditions, organizing and movement building in Detroit.
We, the organizers of the first United States Social Forum:
The gathering in Atlanta in June 2007 had 12,000 people come together in the belief that "Another World Was Possible!" Movement forces from all over the country took advantage of the opportunity to celebrate, organize, teach, debate and otherwise contribute to a growing sense that "Another U.S. Is Necessary!" The USSF made clear our need for greater convergence among progressives and the left in this country and to begin to articular our vision for "Another World."
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.
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.
A global movement is rising. The USSF is our opportunity to prepare and meet it! The World Social Forum (WSF) has become an important symbol of global movement convergence and the development of alternatives to the dominant paradigm. Over the past nine years, the WSF has gathered the world’s workers, peasants, youth, women, and oppressed peoples to construct a counter-vision to the economic and political elites of the World Economic Forum held annually in Davos, Switzerland.
After gathering 100,000 people in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2005, the International Council (IC) decided that in 2006 there would be regional social forums to culminate in a WSF in 2007. The IC delegated Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) to help shepherd the US Social Forum process, stating that it was strategic to hold a gathering of peoples and movements within the “belly of the beast” that were against the ravages of globalization and neoliberal policies in the US and worldwide. GGJ is an alliance that grew out of people-of-color-led grassroots groups who participated in the first WSF. These grassroots leaders initiated a process to create the first USSF National Planning Committee (NPC) and Atlanta was selected as the USSF host city. In early 2009, the NPC selected Detroit as the second host city for 2010.
We call those who fight for justice to converge and act, and to reflect on the potential of our position and the power of our connections. Although we have built organizations that push forward an integrated, multi-issue, multiracial strategy, we have yet to build our movement on a scale relative to our sisters and brothers in the Global South.
The US Social Forum offers the opportunity to continue to gather and unify these growing forces. We must seize this moment and advance our collective work to build grassroots leadership, develop collective vision and formulate strategies that keep a strong movement growing.