Which Way for the Northwest Social Forum? A dialog on cross-issue organizing
By Amoshaun Toft, Nancy Van Leuven, W. Lance Bennett, Jonathan Tomhave, Mary Lynn Veden, Chris Wells and Lea Werbel
The Northwest Social Forum (NWSF) was organized over a 1 ½ year period, leading up to a planned weekend long event in Seattle, Washington. The World Social Forum was started in 2001 in Brazil, and local and regional Social Fora have become a significant positive force in global justice organizing by connecting activists and organizers across issues and geography, resulting in several movement coalition and actions. The NWSF would have been the second Social Forum in the US, following the Boston Social Forum. Concerns about process emerged 2 ½ months before the planned event, eventually resulting in the Indigenous Planning Committee's decision to pull-out of the Forum. The Film Planning Committee and Youth Planning Committee followed, and the main Planning Committee decided to cancel the event just 9 days before the event. Both the process and the call to cancel have resulted in a significant amount of criticism, but no formal process was undertaken to evaluate and move forward. The first US Social Forum is planned for June 27th - uly 1st, 2007 in Atlanta, and some effort is being made to organize regionally for the Forum in the Northwest. This report has collected and organized online organizing documents, survey results and interviews around 10 main themes that emerged through the process:
organization, decision-making, race, conflict, technology, funding, geography, time, cancellation, and thoughts for the future.
Participants and readers are invited to contribute to a dialog around these themes and issues on the project's website, hopefully contributing to the development of further Social Forum organizing.
As a gathering of opinions by many of those most involved with the Northwest Social Forum this report is intended to foster a learning environment that may help future social movement efforts. This document has been published online, and an opportunity has been provided there for readers to discuss findings and future steps.
For complete statements, and online discussion about the themes discussed here please visit the project website.