US Social Forum: Below and to the Left

 Another Politics is Possible

Living the Vision from Below and to the Left

Program for the US Social Forum , June 27th – July 1st, 2007

Participating groups include: Sisterfire, Coalition of Immokalee workers/Student Farm worker Alliance, LA Garment Workers Center, Sista II Sista, INCITE! Center for Immigrant Families, Regeneracion Childcare, Pachamama Childcare collective, Harm Free Zone, Left Turn Magazine, Catalyst Project, and Refugio.

What does it mean to “live the vision” for social justice—to actualize the transformative world we desire within the present-day life of our organizations and movements?

This panel will focus on models of organizing that begin with the premise that our political “successes” have as much to do with the internal processes, cultures and values of movements as they do with the external wins that define political victory. One of the biggest challenges our generation faces is understanding and prioritizing the belief that “Movements, must be people-oriented, as opposed to thing oriented,” in the words of Grace Lee Boggs, veteran community activist and political theorist. She takes her cue from her Civil Right contemporary, Martin Luther King Jr., who on the eve of his assassination implored the movement to step to the challenge of a “revolution in values”—to ground movements in people-centered transformation. Today, this principle has made its way back into our political culture (some would argue that it has never left). Taking their own cue from the social justice movements of Latin America—mass movements that are now tipping the balance of power in places such as Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina—a new generation of US-based activists and organizers are adopting models that seek to promote a true democracy that values the individual transformation within its ranks, that encourages leadership structures which are horizontal as opposed to top-down, and that recognizes that the most successful organizations are not necessarily the ones that most effectively lead, but rather the ones that can be led by the will of those from below. Session participants will speak to such modes of transformative organizing.

The panel will feature speakers from organizations and movements that span multiple issue areas and several generations.