April 2010 KTA: USSF – Movement Building from Albany to Detroit

“It’s imperative that all of the visionaries, the thinkers, the movers, the believers should start getting yourself ready and on your way to Detroit right now.” 

— Maureen Taylor, US Social Forum Detroit Co-Coordinator

WHAT IS THE ACTIVITY?  Movement building!  To change the world, we need a coordinated movement of people joining together and demanding and making change.  This movement has got to be stronger, more strategic, and better networked than what we’ve got now.  Fortunately, this spring and summer, opportunities abound for building a stronger movement – here in rural Oregon and nationally. 

April’s KTA is a three part-er:

1.      Make sure that your community is represented at ROP’s Rural Caucus and Strategy Session this April 10th in Albany where we’ll be advancing Hometown Strategies for a Democratic Economy.  It’s not too late to register!

2.      Decide if your group would like to send a representative to the People’s Movement Assembly (PMA) on May 8th in Portland along with ROP Board Member Jessica Campbell.  The PMA is a new kind of gathering that is intended to bring a community together to make decisions about what values they affirm and what actions they want our social justice movement to take.  There are PMAs happening around the country that will bring their resolutions to the US Social Forum.

3.      Join ROP at the US Social Forum in Detroit this June 22nd – 26th.  The USSF in Detroit will be the 2nd Social Forum in the US and will bring movement leaders and grassroots communities from every part of the US together at ground zero of the economic crisis. 

WHY THIS ACTIVITY?  The People’s Movement Assembly is a chance to bring the different communities and issues in our movement together – groups who work for racial justice, anti-poverty, youth, environmental justice, workers’ rights, queer rights, immigrant justice, and more.  Participants will talk about common values and deliberate and decide on at least one shared action that we can all commit to taking.  Though this might sound simple, coming together and collectively deciding and agreeing, across a broad diversity of groups, to all take action together… this could be a huge step towards real movement building and the people power that we have the potential to harness.  This is the hoped-for outcome of May 8th.  And it’s what representatives from Oregon will be bringing to Detroit for the National People’s Movement Assembly at the US Social Forum.    

The heart of the People’s Movement Assemblies are resolutions for action. The basic template is:

Because these conditions exist:

And because these opportunities are possible:

We commit to this action:

And call on others in the US to join us.

Here’s a recent example from the People’s Movement Assembly in Detroit:

Because JP Morgan Chase is a major investor in R J Reynolds who relies on workers, largely undocumented, often in slave labor conditions, in the tobacco fields of North Carolina,

And because Chase is among the major banks foreclosing the homes of Detroiters

With 20,000 people here for the US Social Forum

We call for a faith-led march and sit-in, where unions, religious groups, and individuals disinvest simultaneously from Chase until the bank pressures RJ Reynolds to sign an agreement with growers and workers, and also widely renegotiates mortgages with Detroit homeowners. We also call on the Michigan governor to declare a moratorium on foreclosures.

The hope for the People’s Movement Assembly in Oregon is not to set the bar low and only agree to the lowest common denominator among groups, but to use this process to listen to what our deep connections might be, what common root causes might unite us, what creative actions that address these might look like, and what one collective action all groups can take. The resolutions that are passed will then be taken onto Detroit for the US Social Forum.

The US Social Forum will bring together over 20,000 activists and organizers from across the country for 4 days in June in Detroit.  From the organizers of the USSF: 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 other’s 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.

STEPS TO COMPLETE THE ACTIVITY:

  1. Come to the ROP Caucus on April 10th in Albany.  Be part of our visioning and collective strategizing for democratic economy and a stronger movement in rural Oregon.  Meet keynote speaker and USSF and PMA organizer Stephanie Guilloud from Project South in Atlanta.  Register today!   
  2. Learn more about the People’s Movement Assembly on May 8th in Portland and the US Social Forum in Detroit June 22-26th.  Decide if and how your group might want to participate in either gathering.
  3. Register your group for the People’s Movement Assembly in Portland on May 8th by April 17th. (Register at http://pma.creatingdemocracy.org/registration)
  4. Submit a resolution by April 17th to the PMA in Portland that shares your group and community’s vision and strategy for action.  All resolutions will be reviewed by participating groups and then discussed at the PMA on May 8th.  For details on writing resolutions, go to http://pma.creatingdemocracy.org/writing-a-resolution.  To watch a report back of highlights and resolutions passed at the recent PMA in Detroit go to http://pma.creatingdemocracy.org/
  5. As a group, review all other groups’ resolutions and share comments or concerns with them by May 2nd.  This will give each participating group a chance to build a stronger resolution that connects with different segments of our movement prior to the PMA. 
  6. If interested, send one representative as a decision maker to the PMA in Portland on May 8th.  ROP Board Member Jessica Campbell will be representing ROP and she will also be able to communicate with your group if you are not able to send a representative to Portland. 
  7. Register for the US Social Forum in Detroit.  And let ROP know that you’re interested in going so that we can make plans for the ROP contingent, including a possible chartered bus from the NW to Detroit!
  8. Debrief with your group and ROP: How did these gatherings help build our movement? What did you get out of them? What are ideas on how we can better coordinate our work and actions in the future to build a stronger movement across the US and world?
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