liveblogging the us social forum planning meeting

good morning!

yesterday the u.s. social forum planning meeting jumped off. this is the second meeting we’ve had, here in detroit, heading towards the us social forum in june (22-26) of 2010.

we began with welcomes, introductions, reviewing the agenda and the way decisions happen. then we spent a good amount of time figuring out the key questions and things to resolve in this meeting. several of the questions are around how staffing and structure works – our ability to answer these questions will ensure that transparency, accountability and effectiveness are real and not just desired.

we got trained in how to use a note taking tool that helps to make the process more collective and transparent – it’s an online shared document we are all editing and chatting as we go, and all the members of the national planning committee can actually see it wherever they are and follow along, be a part of the conversation.

we then covered the political context we’re in. folks spoke up from all the different regions of the country, of the detroit area. it was remarkable to hear how the economic crisis is impacting all of these regions so similarly. folks are facing foreclosures + homelessness on a huge scale. militarization of our young people, our communities and our borders is on the rise. tracing the money shows how the international injustices the u.s. is exacting on other places is very much funded by the funding that is coming out of our communities.

then we all went down to the birthday party of detroit elder grace lee boggs. grace moved to detroit with her husband jimmy boggs, and together they started organizations and moved principles of radical love as a revolutionary process. the room was packed with people who have been impacted by grace.

this morning, we jumped into the international context – what is happening around the world – there are popular uprisings happening in honduras, iran, peru. folks from around the room who had knowledge and relationship with places around the world inputted to build our political knowledge.

then, we created a collective history of how we got to this moment, starting from the world economic forum process, the political response of people’s movements, the world social forums, the regional u.s. forums, the ussf in atlanta, and the build up to detroit.

it’s deep to think back and remember that process, and how many times it really almost didn’t happen or work out, and how much relationships of trust impact the possibility of this kind of massive event happening. there was local trust and involvement that made detroiters come to the table for each other and have deep political conversations around the impact that a ussf could have on detroit, and how detroit could interact with the national organizers in a way that strengthens both.

all of the working groups met together to ask themselves:
- what are your goals?
- whats your 3 month work plan?
- who else needs to be recruited?
- what feedback/directions/decisions do you need from the whole planning committee?
- who are your co-leads (point people for the working groups!)

we shared with each other the feedback/directions/decisions needed from the whole planning committee.

now the afternoon is getting fun. we’re talking about the NPC structure, staff, finance and budget. i need to focus a bit, will keep updating as much as i can!

just went through a fun process with folks to shift the NPC structure, and we approved a new structure! yay!! this will be a more open structure, and a more accountable structure. anyone can put in an application, but the decision making body will be centered around representatives from the working groups. those reps will be chosen by the working groups…and coordinated by folks that are selected just to coordinate. whew!

now on to fiscal policy and budget! we approved 3 new fiscal policies. a major one is that we will have a financial committee to move this area of work. second, fiscal sponsorship will be transferred from project south the the tides center. third, we will have a local account held by an anchor organization. this will insure flexibility and accountability in how our finances flow. whew!

in terms of budget, we approved that we will not go into a deficit this fiscal year, which means tonight a team is going to do budget reduction! tomorrow we hope to finalize staff and approve budget!

now we are speed dating – each of the working groups is meeting with each of the other working groups about what is needed! this is hilarious – each group has 4 minutes to communicate each way! these are verbal folks. :)

tonight is the political-social fundraiser for will copeland, ussf organizer who is dealing with lymphoma. its at 7:30 pm at the central united methodist church, 2nd floor, downstairs from where we’re meeting. should be fun!

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