Monthly Archive for July, 2009

liveblogging from the allied media conference: boycott, divest and sanction session

i will liveblog this session until it’s time for us (ruckus and yesmen) to consult on actions that could support the efforts of folks working!

the brilliant nada is breaking down, to start off, the way israel’s image has been built up vs the way palestine’s image has been built up. israel’s european roots allow it to tell a story that appeals to international economic leaders. the cultural boycott is to start to expose that there is another story, a story of apartheid, a reason to withhold support.

an example of cultural boycott – the yes men, two jewish activist-trouble makers – withdrew their film from the jerusalem film festival because they said, how could they show it there when the movie is about justice, and some people wouldn’t have access to it?

now learning from tom about the similarity of policies of south african apartheid and modern-day israel, and the use of sanctions.

a learning: boycotts do not in and of themselves do not bring a company or country to their knees, and generally that is not the purpose or strategy. the purpose is to “raise consciousness and build a multinational awareness to bring pressure.”

a learning: the one country that continued to defy the arms embargo during the movement to shift south africa from apartheid was israel.

nadine is up talking about how having the critique is not enough, even sharing what is actually happening is not enough cuz folks have so much going on. she’s asking how u.s. communities of color are impacted by militarism, and how it’s connected to israeli militarism. $21 billion is coming from our communities and goes into the u.s. military.

her question: what about israeli military members have worked within the prison system in the u.s.?
–> answer: israeli military trains correction officers in practices in at least 9 major cities, and are known to engage in racial profiling! in abu ghraib, israeli military officers were engaging in the forms of interrogation. also cia death squads (teams sent to pull off high level assassinations in other countries to create chaos and shift things that benefit the u.s.) have been trained by israeli military. finally, hurricane katrina is another example. blackwater showed up there to benefit from the disaster capitalism in effect, and blackwater’s shareholders include several israeli companies.

dang she’s reading a list of social movements that were targeted and spied on by pro-zionist forces in the 1990s, including NAACP, Mother Jones, Jews for Jesus, and many more.

nadia is making the comment that bloggers, particularly those that identify as palestinian, can get targeted on their blogs by commenters, and that some radical bloggers have come together to ban folks who are targeting them.

tom is making the comment that the helicopters that were able to hit people before they could even hear it – the apache helicopters – were integral to the occupation.

nada is clarifying that this panel is about the cultural boycott, but if folks want info about the corporations to boycott go to http://www.endtheoccupation.org

now wes taylor and invincible from emergence (a fair trade hip-hop company). their brand new emerging media creation is a travel agency. emergence travel agency (ETA)…they are developing it so that their education website will be the first thing that comes up when people search for, say, “israel travel”. the website functions as a travel brochure with videos and information.

now they are showing the world premiere of the docu-music video for “people not places,” by invincible, directed by al iqaa the olive tone (joe namy). invincible is sharing that as someone who is half-israeli and (though born here) was raised there till she was 7. when she was older and had been living in michigan for years, she asked her mother if she missed israel/palestine, and her mother said, “i miss people, not places.” the song “people not places” is born out of a response to the idea that someone could be so privileged as to not miss a place that people are dying to have the right to return to and live in. joe is explaining the process of shooting the video in like 8 different places and piecing it together into a complete piece.

wow this is my first time seeing the video with all the interviews, animation – it’s amazing already, split screen and all. it’s amazing!

on the site people can watch ‘people not places’ and then there is a video to show folks what to do, showing invincible at the blockade of the israeli consulate in january cut over a song she wrote about the gaza massacre. wes and maha explaining the video creation process of using the footage and trying to keep the live energy from the event in the video to inspire people to the call in the chorus, “boycott, divest and sanction!”

now nada breaking down what you can do – stickering in stores that sell israeli goods for instance. removing israeli frozen foods or feta cheese and putting them in other parts of the store or opening it. there are small acts and large ones. one way to deshelve a product is to get the store not to carry it, a second way is to ruin the product in the store so that it’s technically not selling so the company stops selling it there.

just did a little ruckus consultation to generate ideas. to come up with goo action plans in a nutshell you need a long-term vision, mobilizing message, know your action capacity, determine your greatest possible local impact and create an action plan! here’s some of what we came up with:

– use zionist graphics but spread pro-palestinian message
– fashion show in front of a place that sells zionist shoes to say “put yourself in palestinian shoes”
– a pledge for folks to sign!
– informative bookmark slipped into israel travel guides (like fodors, lonely planet)
– DIY stickers
– hand-outs in front of stores like trader joe’s and whole foods to educate folks and ask for deshelving of israeli products
– thumbtacks strategically stuck into products like feta cheese to let the air out
– moving frozen foods to other parts of the store where they will melt
– bring it back to your organization and community and educate everyone you know
– build with unlikely allies (with healthcare organizers that hospitals are being bombed with your tax money, education organizers to understand that money is being redirected from us schools to bomb palestinian schools)
– get people of influence to speak out
– have professor reeducation day where professors don’t sign on but do commit to spending a portion of class educating about palestine
– deshelving in bookstores (moving books around, hiding behind shelves)
– creating a how-to BDS video
removing the shelf tags after removing products in store so folks don’t notice as quickly that it’s missing
– watch videos by max blumenthal
– organize boycott of zionist artists’ shows
– artists refuse to share stages with zionist artists and publicize why
– dress up as birthright tourguides and the teach palestinian freedom info!

hope to do more ruckus training with BDS on how to actually pull off these actions.

everyone in the room committed to doing an action!

liveblogging from the allied media conference – what media can learn from food distribution systems.

this format is amazing. first we saw each of the presenters interview each other. here’s some of the wisdom that came out. (i’ll add links in a bit)

“we sold vouchers 9 months ahead of time, letting folks know that we couldn’t put out the album unless we sold enough pre-sale vouchers!”

“my biggest challenge is wishing i could give my films out for free, but i need to be able to produce more films!”

“bootlegging is a good problem! if you’re not getting bootlegged you aren’t doing something right. you’re not create a demand and a desire for your work!”

now we’re in 4 break-out groups where we each get to interview each of the presenters one at a time. i am in the group with joan mandell from new day.

“for me, the most interesting thing about new day is how we formed as a coop, and how we work together.”

“the folks who can afford to make a living off this are professors, folks with trust funds – used to be all white. we hired a facilitator – a hawaiin lesbian of color – who has worked with us to diversify our membership. guess what – our membership is changing!”

“we have a buddy system to show how-to on every single aspect of creating and distributing the work.”

now we have akil houston from cincinatti who is also a filmmaker.

“my mother was into film and theater, and took me with her.”

“growing up – you realize that often you see things like – the way this story is being told IS the story. but then you see different perspectives and realize that the films might only be a PART of the story.”

“see ‘the two towns of jasper’ – took a white crew and a black crew in to make a film on the man dragged behind the truck. vastly different perspectives.”

“i had to walk away from an opportunity to make good money making a music video that was basically soft-porn. i feel good because everything i’ve done, i could basically show my grandmother.”

“you have the green activists interested in green but not race or class; and the hip-hop heads interested in the race and class issues. and we worked together, across big egos, to get a grant….you see organizations with 5-6 women working and a guy sitting there chillin or directing; or an organization where the women or the people of color are supposed to bring up the issues or sexism or race.”

now cornelius from underground resistance is in our group!

“i rely on the ethics and the morality of the artists i work with, instead of locking people into some 360 deal (owning and selling every aspect of what an artist puts out for a period of time)”

“there are gonna be people who hate you or don’t care for your music – so you aren’t trying to reach everyone. you can be too broad. if you start off with – there are these people who go to these events and will be into what i’m doing – you target, that’s the easy route. don’t make your job harder than it needs to be. you know who is going to like what you have – focus that outreach and energy. (in terms of social networking sites) i generally think you’re better off in the streets with the people who like your music, real people. it may be a smaller market, but so what, it’s a deeper market. same as doing stuff in other countries…everyone’s going to europe and ignoring south america – that’s a whole continent.”

this format was deep and brilliant!!

live blogging from the allied media conference – reflections on the keynote

whew – it is deep to be up in the middle of something you’ve dreamed of.

the keynote last night was amazing if i do say so myself. i worked closely with jenny lee, the program director of the AMC, and dani mcclain (of colorofchange.org) to craft a multi-media, multi-directional event. our two major themes were moving from individualism (solo voices, celebrities, leading organizations) to many (paired or multiple voices, voices from people, networks and communities); moving from seeing this economic moment not as a dark and fearful time, but rather as a dark womb from which community-centered societies can be born.

we started with D. Blair, a performance poet who has done amazing pieces on michael jackson. he opened with poems about MJ, really brilliant complex poems about race, culture, influence, and how MJ is woven into the pop-cultural space our generation occupies. the he sang an a capella “Man In The Mirror” which was church.

then we had a cycling Welcome to Detroit panel, which started with Charles and Mama Sandra Simmons. they spoke in the spirit of che guevara – “true revolutionaries are guided by feelings of love.” their spirit, their energy, and their words (hope is delicious, love is community is relationship, we must think of love in terms of our partnerships and in terms of our work) were gentle, like being parented and supported and held. then shea howell, a historian and journalist who writes for the Michigan Citizen, and njia kai, a filmmaker and event organizer extraordinaire, took the stage. shea spoke to the statistics of crisis in detroit, but how up through the cracks of that are statistics of community-centered society. that society is grounded in arts and culture as a way of raising and holding and uplifting community.

then the room went dark, and out of the darkness we heard the voices of the SPEAK collective poets. it was powerful, though i wish the mics were a little clearer. but the women of SPEAK created the poem for this event. it was live streamed so hopefully you can hear it as we heard it.

then i came out and gave a little guidance to the keynote and how it was crafted, and honored the staff and board and organizers of the conference. i also shared this excerpt from the hopi elder’s prophecy which really guided me a lot in terms of dreaming this up:

This could be a good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The time of the one wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

after this, speakers flowed one to another. kyra johnson from people’s production house spoke from a very personal perspective about how important it is to fight to change media policy because it impacts how we reach and move our communities. kat aaron gave a listener friendly breakdown of this economic moment, and how important journalism is during it – given that this current moment came about because of stories untold over the last decade. scott kurashige used the simpsons and compelling images to show the lessons detroit has to offer to this moment. and then dani mcclain got on a skype call with ra from south africa to talke about community and media centered organizing over there. it was amazing.

then invincible and sterling got up and freestyled off the live texting and tweeting that was coming up on the screen throughout the keynote (thanks to VozMob!). we had asked tons of artists who couldn’t come through, so they represented brilliantly and soulfully, and were soon joined on stage by hardcore detroit.

chris lee and jenny lee saved us on the tech tip many times!

dj sicari of 5 Elements (open on Michigan and 14th from 1-9 daily) stepped in to DJ and held it down.

ive been beaming every since – and it was all live streaming and i believe you can still hear it at Prometheus Radio Project.

call to how to ACT!

jetlagged and about to pass out, tomorrow i facilitate the womens media equity summit, and then the allied media conference jumps off, and then the us social forum national/local meeting.

but i wanted to repost an excerpt from the localize this! blog i just posted at ruckus. for a while we have been developing this action framework that allows people from very different backgrounds who need to act together to bridge the resource and historic differences and act right, together.

this year we started the camp with these components, after a welcome and then a local contextualization which was powerful. would love to hear folks thoughts on both the trajectory, and the steps of ACT that follow. it will eventually become a tool that can be used far and wide.

EXCERPT (from www.ruckus.org/blog):

“we tried on a new approach for setting the camp culture. we wanted to address that there were folks there from a variety of experience levels in terms of work around anti-oppression and/or decolonization. the model we unveiled is based on our action framework (”a call to how to ACT”).

first we presented a 5-step perspective on moving towards equity.

1. OTHERING: many folks start with viewing folks who aren’t the same race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, ability, etc as “other”. that “other”-ing can manifest in many ways – superiority, enslaving, hating, fearing, suspecting, inferiority.

2. EXOTIFICATION: when an appreciation of some aspect of a person or group of people you see as “other” develops, and becomes a desire. this can manifest as wanting to own it, have it, control it, bed it, eat it, visit it (within a safe bubble – think resorts in “exotic” locations).

3. TOKENIZATION: when logic, self-interest, good intentions or force makes an individual or organization realize that they want/need to have representation of the “other”. this manifests in obvious and/or subtle ways, such as having one (insert black/female/gay/etc) friend, one (insert poor/impacted) board member, or one (differently-abled/trans/immigrant) staff member.

4. EMULATION: wanting to actually put on the behavior, dress, music, names, spiritual practices, political struggles or culture of the “other”. this is deeper than a visit – this is preferring the “other” above your own identity, and believing you have the privilege to just opt-in to the experiences of the “other”. this is most harmful when it manifests as an individual leaving behind their own communities and families and immersing themselves in the communities which their historic ancestors have negatively impacted, taking up space and resources and not respecting or understanding boundaries. what’s deep here is that individuals involved in emulation are often of the belief that they are showing love and respect for the “other”.

5. EQUITY/EQUALITY: when there is equal opportunity to resources, and fairness and justice in terms of decision making. this is a liberated state of mind that allows you and all the people you interact with to exist outside of constant reaction and struggle, and to evolve. this can manifest in respectful sharing of history and culture, deep appreciation of a whole individual (meaning their complex multiple-identities, not just the surface view).in the long-run, this could manifest a world in which sustainability and self-determination are possible for everyone.

i would go so far as to say active equity is the deepest form of love, and to approach the world from a space of equality and equity the most liberated state. i’m not there yet, but i am working on it.

the easiest way to explain the work that i’ve been able to come up with is the ACT model.

A = awareness. being aware of all of who you are in relation to any group you are in, who else is in the group, and the ways in which you can be part of the mainstream (feeling comfortable, normal, understood, powerful), and the ways in which you are part of the margins (uncomfortable, different, misunderstood, powerless). training for change has a great exercise for this which i encourage you to seek out. we asked folks to think this through for themselves with one other person. the first time folks think and speak through this is usually powerful. many people of color, for example, spend our lives being called “minorities” and fighting for resources – it’s powerful to think of all the ways our culture is shaping the mainstream, the spaces in which we are actually the most powerful people in the room. it’s deep to acknowledge we are the world majority, and have been divided and conquered so successfully. it also helps to hear another person share, and realize just how trained our minds are to put people into boxes based on our perceptions, rather than staying open to their actual experiences and history.

C = communication. learning to communicate clearly, powerfully, at the right time, and from your own experience is a lifelong process. but the better you get at being able to actually communicate from a place of awareness, and understand how you want to be communicated to, the more powerful you can be as a member of your community both within your community, and when representing outside of your community. we had the participants get into affinity groups and think about assumptions and offenses often communicated TO their groups, and how other groups in the room could really communicate well with them for the temporary community of the week.

T = truth-n-reconciliation, both as a formal and informal process. we are going to post more about this process in the near future, but the depth of relationship and equity possible when both parties can bring their truth into the room, reconcile differences and past wrongdoings, and pre-empt future offenses and oppression – that depth is astounding, and illuminates what sustainable and self-determined communities really look like.

this is all old knowledge, old growth knowledge, wisdom that already exists in communities and is just waiting to be remembered.

a new friend, logan, then offered a consent process that helps to create a safe space around sex and sexuality – really important when we have folks going through very physical and interactive trainings.”

what do you think?

in body

up early, after a full night’s sleep. today is the second full day of action camp set-up. yesterday we raised 7 massive tents to use as training spaces, helped finish a bamboo/tarp cooking structure with freestanding appliances (like, probably nicer than your home kitchen). several “shitters” – basically outhouses – have been built for this camp. also, sinks, solar showers, and tomorrow a scaffolding for the climb trainings.

i learn so much during these set-up days. this is not my natural skill set. i’m a talker, and a writer. i don’t grasp half the terms that get tossed around, and i have allergies, and i eventually reach a breaking point when i am covered in dirt and sweat and sunscreen. my neck cricks up at the mention of physical labor. i carry more weigh on my bones than i need, and it creates additional soreness and pain.

but i also know that the skill of building things, organizing a space for people to share, thinking about the food and bathroom and sleeping and washing and learning needs of participants who live on this island, and indigenous participants from all over the northwest, and the rest of the folks who will find their way over here…this is life skill building.

putting up the tents

putting up the tents

i want to know these skills for my octavia butler self, and for the part of me that is a daughter-sister-aunt. no matter how far we traverse into the wonders of the mind, into the words we can write and the things we can think, while we are on this earth we have to be in body with each other, care for and love each others’ physical selves.

now i have tucked myself into my little room to get as much alone time as i can out of the morning. i am a cave dweller, i prefer to be alone most of the time. and yet i hope this is something i can reprogram a bit, because politically i know we aren’t meant to be alone. we yearn for a connectedness that honors who we are. so i take my alone time and it is respected, and allows me to jump into the day and be WITH amazing and knowledgeable people.

learn, learn, learn.

living for the future, 1

the more i learn about living, and about how connected, interdependent and abundant the world is, the more exciting it is to live.i want to jot down my notes somewhere about the things i am learning…

–> learn about compost. learn how ridiculous it is to bag organic matter up in plastic trash bags that keep it from being processed and becoming new fertility in the soil. learn how all organic matter is eternal, how it just keeps shifting and changing into new matter, allow this process in your home and life.

–> think of all water as a sacred resource. all of it – drinking, shower, toilet, swimming, shipping. as my friend gopal tells his babies, “every drop of water is part of the only water we have” drink lots of water – not from bottles, but from taps, fountains, filtration systems. shower wisely, flush as little as possible (buy a little toilet paper covered trash basket for pee-pee paper). come up with a little blessing to honor the water you do use: “water, i love you; love me, and be abundant to me”.

–> shift away from eating processed food. our bodies are designed to process whole foods. when we only feed our body highly processed, unnatural foods, our ability to access that which is needed can atrophy, leading to all sorts of health problems. eat foods that are fresh, natural, in their whole state. the majority of your food, 2/3rds of it, should be fruit and vegetables. shop at markets that stock food based on what is locally in season, that is the freshest food you could eat, and food that has to travel the least distance, meaning you aren’t polluting the world to fuel your body.

–> meditate at the beginning of each day. when you start by grounding and centering yourself, and allowing your mind to clear, it helps you move through the day with intention and clarity, which is much better than reactivity. you can determine how much energy you give the world, and how much energy you put towards your vision. no matter how little you have – space, time, energy, health, support – this is a gift you can give yourself which grows the personal peace you have to gift to the world.

more to come…

now i am off to set up our Localize This! camp. it smells sweet, it tastes sweet, it’s golden and lovely.

journey to vashon

3 hours of sleep
Sharon and megan scooped me in the halflight, laughing with tired faces.
They went for the gear van, dropped me on the way.
I wrote a childrens story on the plane instead of sleeping.
Ingrid Chapman found me and we caught up on Ruckus and Catalyst Project on the ride into Seattle with her pretty mom.
I found crepes, cheese, fig spread and crackers at the pike pier, then found an online cafe and worked to my hearts content.
Jonathan the poet from detroit came to check on me, later tweeted to my Friend that he saw her “boosky woosky”. So…
I walked all my things to the Ferry, and sat in the front looking for whale friends. I was the only brown person on the boat. Kindness mixed with lack of diversity is always a bit daunting to me.
Its beautiful in every direction – trees, ocean, this growth, gardens.
Saw our training site and its perfect, golden, with a bamboo structure to cover the kitchen, and new shitters.
Got to kick it hard with john sellers, my predecesor – we needed it! Got to hand with his wife and babies, all lovely and smart and magical.
Now, gonna get some sleep – in this lovely 100 year old fixer upper. The finished rooms are perfection. My bed is sooooft.
Tomorrow, the fun begins!

What’s UP with the US Social Forum?

In 2010, the second US Social Forum will take place in Detroit Mi, from June 22-26. I keep meaning to write a piece that gives an inside look at what’s up with the forum, but time passes when you’re working hard.

I want to say first and foremost that the majority of people I have met and worked with on the forum are truly humbled by the movement building happening on a global level, especially in the global south, and want to make sure that we are a part of that process.

The World Social Forum came into being as a necessary response to the World Economic Forum, and to the entire idea that economically driven globalization is the only way for the nations and peoples of the world to come together. The process of the forum, in theory, is to have an open space where folks who believe another world is possible can come together for political dialogue and relationship building.

In practice, there have been fits, starts, mistakes, and learning. This is to be expected when developing a process with such massive intentions.

A group was formed called Grassroots Global Justice to help people of color and basebuilding organizers get to the World Social Forums and make sure that our voices were heard in the global movement building process. It matters that the US shows up in the world not just as global police officers and economic crises starters, but as partners, comrades, part of a shared global community.

The idea to have a forum in the US naturally emerged, and it took a long time to come to fruition, with regional forums happening around the country.

The first US Social Forum was in Atlanta, Ga, in the summer of 2007. This is where I and my organization entered the process – the Ruckus Society got involved late in the planning, mostly to support on the big opening march, and security. It wasn’t easy to get to the planning table – partially because the folks working on it were overwhelmed, and partially because there was an intentional effort to have grassroots, basebuilding organizations at the center of the process.

It would be impossible to over emphasize the importance of having grassroots organizers in the center of the process – as most national (and international) processes and organizations are still led by a privileged class – privileged through education, race, or resources. The attempt to invert the power structure, locally or globally, requires putting shared values for bottom-up, grassroots leadership as a top priority.

The first forum was declared an overwhelming success, with estimates that 15,000 people came together for workshops, panels, plenaries, marches, parties and relationship building. It was also a learning process in every possible way.

Now, as we build towards the second forum, there has been an effort to cull the lessons from the first go round.

In 2007 there was one anchor organization in Atlanta, Project South. They worked non-stop on the forum, with a local committee and growing national support, putting aside much of their ongoing work in the process. There was one diligent staff member for most of the process, Alice Lovelace. Talk about overworked!

So, when selecting the city for the 2010 forum, the organizers were looking for a city that wasn’t highly resourced (as many of the large coastal cities are) and could use the energy of thousands of people coming to town to grow their own local efforts, had a strong movement building history, and several local organizations with the capacity to share the load of being anchor groups.

After nearly a year of visiting cities, talking with organizers, having deep and transparent conversations about the capacity of cities to host – and the capacity of the National Planning Committee to ensure that the forum would be a benefit as opposed to a burden to the chosen city – a decision was reached : Detroit.

There is a remarkable movement history in Detroit, and a healthy body of interested and energized local organizations and community members who were down to take on the work. But more than all of that, Detroit holds a very unique place in our nation – as many local organizers say, Detroit is what the rest of the country has to look forward to. The sort of all-encompassing economic crisis that many of us are beginning to feel more and more familiar with has been present in Detroit for 20-40 years. Once a growing metropolis and the heart of the auto industry, Detroit was devastated by outsourcing and disinvestment. With a peak population well over 2 million, Detroit now houses 800,000 in the largest geographic space of any city in the U.S.

There are definitely statistics that speak to the lack of resources – high crime, high murder rates, high drop-out rates, high hunger rates. But another story is being written simultaneously, one that we all need to experience and learn from. Another world is happening in Detroit – new forms of collaborative organizing, a reorientation from oppositional politics into vision-based politics, major steps away from relying on traditional (and corrupt) local governance structures and/or formal non-profit structures, and, perhaps most importantly, the development of practices for a community-centered society.

Suffice it to say, I love me some Detroit.

Detroit organizers on the ground started working in a body they call the Detroit Local Organizing Committee (DLOC), and played a key role in selecting the anchor organizations. Their intention, having considered reports and stories from the Atlanta process and having sent delegates to the World Social Forum in Brazil, is to have a much larger body of people working on the ground locally from the start. This group was moving mountains before Detroit was officially selected in January, and has been moving mountains ever since.

The first meeting of the US Social Forum Detroit took place in March. I was part of the facilitation team. It was largely about formalizing the relationship between Detroit and the National Planning Committee (NPC), setting the dates, working on a budget, and getting some of the key logistics moving along (booking the convention centers and hotels and dorm rooms and public spaces). To ensure a strong local voice in all of the planning, each of the anchors was added to the NPC, as well as two at-large seats for selected members of DLOC. The working groups, which are open national groups that are responsible for moving every aspect of the work forward, were brought together for the first time to assess what work was in front of them.

In May, there was a local strategy session for the anchors and DLOC representatives, with a focus on generating a massive work plan and some protocols for how the local community will work together. At that meeting, two local staff were hired so that the work could move forward more smoothly – Maureen Taylor and Will Copeland.

Over the past few months, folks have been working hard to determine key pieces of how to move forward – how many staff are needed? Which working groups are needed and what did we learn about the working group process from last time? How does the National Planning Committee need to grow and change in order to be representative of movements in the US? What’s a realistic budget at this economic moment? What are the best financial management systems for such a massive undertaking?

Along the way, the working groups have been growing at different speeds. Some of them are already roaring ahead, and some are just barely getting started. The working groups are the key to the US Social Forum process – they are open for anyone, in an organization or as an individual, to participate in helping to shape what ends up happening at the Forum.

We’ve also had major steps forward from the tech working group – folks are using Twitter and Wikis, and we got a webpage up – www.ussf2010.org – with information about the forum. This technology is intended to make sure that whether people can physically be at the meetings or not, whether folks have computers or phones, they can access the USSF process.

Now we are heading into July and the second national meeting, which will happen in Detroit directly after the Allied Media Conference, which is a major gathering of communicators from all over the country. The conference will be an opportunity for social forum organizers to see another model of a grassroots national gathering converging on the city.

Big pieces of logistical work will continue to advance at this meeting; the working groups will take it to the next level – with the idea of launching in a major way that any and everyone can join; and some key decisions will be made about the National Planning Committee of the forum – balancing the scale of the forum with the openness that it needs to be successful, as well as setting up really clear mechanisms for accountability at all levels.

Now – there are a lot of other folks involved in the process, and a lot more details that could be shared about how the process is going. There’s a commitment from the media and communications group to have lots of folks writing about the experience as we go along, folks are blogging about it, and as we are able we will get names of people and organizations who are key point people on the website and available so you can speak to folks in your region or area of work to hear how things are going. But I wanted to go ahead and get my point of view out there, and commit to continue to keep y’all involved in the process as best I can.

Get involved!!

technology turns me on

i have never been a technophobe, never been the kind of person who argues that technology is keeping us further from each other. i definitely think it’s making us fat, lazy as organizers, and has increased the echo chamber of useless information.

but! generally, as a writer (and particularly as a fan of science fiction), i have loved technology, because it has given me the capacity to communicate in writing to intimates and strangers. it has given me the capacity to be with my nephew, sisters, parents, friends wherever they are.

and recently i have been a super fan of technology.

watching the up close footage and interviews of people’s uprisings in peru, honduras, iran – basically as they are happening;

getting to see video and images of amazing nonviolent direct actions as they are happening;

going through the michael jackson loss and memorial experience and getting to be with a global community to process it;

my sister and nephew in greece but me being able to find pictures of them and follow his process of learning to walk;

connecting with family in the south after the recent death of my great aunt annie;

and getting to see my Friend’s face on video chat as she travels through europe touring.

i love that these things are possible. on election night i felt all these portals open, people all over the globe experiencing hope and celebration. technology advances our capacity to feel an emotion in common, and technology accelerates our capacity to handle tasks which distract us from being present with each other and the planet.

how we use it to mobilize and connect is on us obviously. but lately i have been loving it, and using it go very deep, very wide.

mmmm, technology. you so fine!

Live Blogging the MJ memorial

I am sitting in my bed watching the Michael Jackson memorial – it is actually just wonderful.

It’s such a black and beautiful moment. This is such a black funeral – tears, laughter, memories, gospel, Jesus and all of that.

Performance wise, Stevie Wonder tore it up, and Jermaine really moved me. Usher also did a lovely job, and John Mayer made the smart choice of doing a guitar tribute as opposed to singing, really mature.

The speeches have been fantastic. Al Sharpton really spoke to the essence of Michael’s controversial life – “to Michael’s chidren: Your daddy wasn’t strange – it was strange what he had to deal with.”

Magic Johnson talked about eating Kentucky Fried Chicken with Michael – how starstruck he was, and then how comfortable they were.

While I am not a big church goer, there are moments in life when you need a preacher, there are moments in life when you need a gospel choir. Times when you need your siblings around you, times when you just need to be honored and defended and protected.

I am thinking of my great aunt annie – magnificent woman that she was. What it feels like to love and miss and let go of someone, it’s so deep.

they just had a little baby, apparently from britain’s got talent, get up and saaang. felt like the recreation of that moment when folks first heard that voice come out of michael – a child who can bring soul beyond their years.

they are doing we are the world and heal the world. lots of folks i don’t recognize…and neither is my favorite of michael’s songs, but the message is the legacy that michael was building his whole life, with all his charitable activities, with his money and his place on stage.

you can’t just love thriller michael, this is what you have to contend with. michael was an icon in the age of mother theresa – even in the bubble that was all around him he still understood the effects of inequality and sought to change and heal the world.

seeing michael’s children up on the stage is fascinating. they have been so protected and hidden their whole lives, and they are each so delicate and cute and look totally overwhelmed.

the whole family is tragic and bizarre to see together. it’s beautiful.

woah – michael’s daughter paris is speaking. speechless.

whew. i cried a LOT this morning. i am so grateful to have the sort of work environment where i could go all in for this.

that was a remarkable memorial, exactly how it should have been.

the music, the speeches, the images, the family. that was truly truly truly beautiful.

to experience it with sooo many people felt important.

i am going to post the entire entire man in the mirror lyrics here cause i have been singing it for two weeks:

“Man In The Mirror”

I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin’ My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer’s Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man’s Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya’ Know
‘Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That’s Why I Want You To
Know

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change)
(Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah)

I’ve Been A Victim Of A Selfish
Kind Of Love
It’s Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They’re Not
Alone?

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody’s Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
(Washed-Out Dream)
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya’ See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That’s Why I’m Starting With
Me
(Starting With Me!)

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
(Ooh!)
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Ooh!)
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change)

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
(Ooh!)
I’m Asking Him To Change His
Ways
(Change His Ways-Ooh!)
And No Message Could’ve
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make That . . .
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make That . . .)
Change!

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror,
(Man In The Mirror-Oh
Yeah!)
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Better Change!)
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make The Change)
(You Gotta Get It Right, While
You Got The Time)
(‘Cause When You Close Your
Heart)
You Can’t Close Your . . .Your
Mind!
(Then You Close Your . . .
Mind!)
That Man, That Man, That
Man, That Man
With That Man In The Mirror
(Man In The Mirror, Oh Yeah!)
That Man, That Man, That Man
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Better Change!)
You Know . . .That Man
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change)
Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah
(Oh Yeah!)
Gonna Feel Real Good Now!
Yeah Yeah! Yeah Yeah!
Yeah Yeah!
Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah
(Ooooh . . .)
Oh No, No No . . .
I’m Gonna Make A Change
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good!
Come On!
(Change . . .)
Just Lift Yourself
You Know
You’ve Got To Stop It.
Yourself!
(Yeah!-Make That Change!)
I’ve Got To Make That Change,
Today!
Hoo!
(Man In The Mirror)
You Got To
You Got To Not Let Yourself . . .
Brother . . .
Hoo!
(Yeah!-Make That Change!)
You Know-I’ve Got To Get
That Man, That Man . . .
(Man In The Mirror)
You’ve Got To
You’ve Got To Move! Come
On! Come On!
You Got To . . .
Stand Up! Stand Up!
Stand Up!
(Yeah-Make That Change)
Stand Up And Lift
Yourself, Now!
(Man In The Mirror)
Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
Aaow!
(Yeah-Make That Change)
Gonna Make That Change . . .
Come On!
(Man In The Mirror)
You Know It!
You Know It!
You Know It!
You Know . . .
(Change . . .)
Make That Change.