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Social forums and People's assemblies in the USA

Translations : français . English . Español


Several peoples assembly and citizens movement processes are taking place. In this interview, Nina Gregg - coordinator of the Charter of Human Responsibilities in the US helps us unveil the " People’s assemblies " initiative in the United States. Already present during the first social forum in Atlanta in 2007, the peoples assemblies will associate again with the second US Social Forum in Detroit, in June 2010.
Links :
- People’s movement assembly
- Article about People’s movement assembly in Creating Democracy, Portland, Oregon
- Article about People’s movement assembly of El Paso, Texas in Grass Roots Press
- US Social Forum and people’s movement assembly of Detroit, Michigan.




Towards Citizens’ Assemblies - Social forums and people’s assemblies in the USA (transcription of the interview)


We are preparing now for the Second Social Forum in the United States: the US Social Forum in 2010 next year in June. And the first one in 2007 was in the city of Atlanta, which is in the south-eastern part of the country, and this is a city that has a racially mixed population and lots of what we could call social justice or social change organizations.


They are addressing issues of poverty, inequity in education, access to employment, discrimination, and housing, unemployment and so on. And we chose Atlanta as the place to have the First US Social Forum because there was so much activity there already, and in the United States the social forum is about those issues. So we had 12,000 people come to that social forum, which we thought was really great for the first time. And one objective was to have those organizations in Atlanta to be stronger after the social forum was there; not just to come there and have an event and leave, and have nothing be different, but contribute something. And there have been a number of campaigns and organizations and initiatives that emerged from the 2007 Social Forum. In the interim some states in the United States have had their own social forums, just on a state level, addressing issues of concern to them.


And this is leading up to our Second Social Forum, which will be in June 2010, in Detroit, in Michigan. And Detroit is an industrial city that has suffered a great loss of employment and financial resources in this economic crisis, and that’s one of the reasons it was selected for the next social forum. And just as in 2007, we wanted the impact on the organizations in the city to be a positive one after we were there. We have the same hopes and expectations for the one in Detroit in June 2010. And in parallel with the social forum, a process has begun for a People’s Assembly, and in other parts of the world this is often called a citizens’ assembly. In the United States we call this a People’s Assembly, because the word citizen in our country refers to your legal status in the country, do you have documentation that gives you access to certain resources? And we have a part of our population that does not have this documentation, so we didn’t want them to be excluded from the assembly. So instead of calling it a Citizens’ Assembly we are calling it a People’s Assembly.


And this is just getting organized now, and for every day of the Social Forum in Detroit there also will be a simultaneous People’s Assembly that will draw on all the people who come to the Social Forum and will identify issues and pass resolutions and make plans for work that will continue after the Social Forum concludes. There was a People’s Assembly at the First US Social Forum. There is going to be one in parallel at the Second US Social Forum. The design for the second one is different from the first one, because we always learn from our experiences, and it will be in parallel every day. And so people will move back and forth. They will be attending events at the Social Forum, and they may move in and out of the People’s Assembly. But the People’s Assembly process will be ongoing all the time and leading up to resolutions and actions.




 

 

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