US Social Forum – Another US is Possible!
Hey Ruckus Family!
(To hear the Ruckus Report Back, listen to the archive of KPFK from Tuesday July 3, 2007 between 7-8am PST, where Adrienne Maree Brown spoke about the US Social Forum with Margaret Prescod!)
This post is a bit long, but we’re just happy to report back to y’all that the first US Social Forum was spectacular! Five days of marching, workshops, panels and plenaries, art and performance, networking, meeting, showering, hugging and partying simultaneously; we are exhausted and elated!
THE TRAININGS, WORKSHOPS and PANELS:
Starting Thursday morning, the Direct Action Track we offered with Midnight Special Law Collective, Smartmeme, Art in Action, Wellstone Action and others was packed. Together, we covered Introduction to Nonviolent Direct Action, Blockades, Creative Visuals, Storytelling, Bird Dogging Candidates and more. We also had an ongoing open art space. At the same time, our dear Satya was supporting the security needs of the forum.
To see the kind of schedule we kept, check out www.ruckus.org/ussf. Our training space was in a prime location at the Task Force for the Homeless, just one block from the heart of the forum, and we had participants from both the Forum and the Task Force’s community.
Friday we unveiled a new curriculum called ‘Bird dogging Candidates: Election Direct Action‘ for the core team of Healthcare-NOW. In a tent under the hot sun, core campaigners working for a sensible, achievable universal health care plan practiced messaging and bird dogging actions.
Saturday, Adrienne Maree joined Medea Benjamin, David Cobb and Biko Baker for a panel on Elections for Radicals, with an emphasis on the role of action in election protection and election reform.
The Not Your Soldier program, which Ruckus co-supports with War Resisters League, also hosted four panels which included many amazing organizers from the Not Your Soldier Advisory Board, sharing counter-recruitment practices with youth from across the country. The project also unveiled it’s brand new website!
THE ACTIONS and MARCHES:
First things first – the Opening March was full of gorgeous puppets, banners, t-shirts and art, created by a team of artists from the local community and many of Ruckus’ long-time artist partners. It was beautiful, musical, powerful, and oh so hot! As masses descended upon the Atlanta Civic Center to begin the forum, the energy of excitement, anticipation and joy to be in each other’s presence was tangible.
Saturday morning we supported the India Resource Center with partners including the Indigenous Environmental Network, United Students Against Sweatshops, Grassroots Global Justice, Southwest Network for Economic and Environmental Justice, Southwest Workers Union, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Massachusetts Global Action, and NYC AIDS Housing Network to bring Coca-Cola’s offenses in India and around the world right to their front door. With a balloon banner and signs created in the ongoing art space, a die-in of USSF participants, and a rally at the brand new World of Coke, we made sure that Coca-Cola felt the presence of the 10,000 strong social justice community in their hometown.
Thursday night we officially brought the Ruckus at ATL-United, a humongous party at super-friendly local venue Django’s. Working with amazing partners including MyBloc.net, Right to the City, Future5000, Change the Game and Give Thanks!, we had a non-stop flow of forum participants of all ages from 9pm till 3am in the morning. The ecstatic dancing wasn’t slowed by the pouring rain, the stink bomb someone dropped on the downstairs dance floor, or the wall to wall bodies as our own DJ Willie Maze (aka Marty Aranaydo, Indigenous People’s Power Project Director) amazed the crowd by mashing Oakland and Atlanta’s best music together. Also on the decks were local mega-stars Karl Injex, Oja and Omar! We had live performances by Rebel Diaz and the remarkable, mindblowing Hot 8 Brass Band out of New Orleans.
Saturday evening, after another long day of training, The Ruckus Society joined the War Resisters League to host the Not Your Soldier party in the Youth Tent. With amazing performances by the groundbreaking poets Climbing PoeTree, a poetry/saxophone/singing trio from Cincinatti, Art in Action youth, Rebel Diaz, Tre Vasquez and many many more!
AND JUST LIKE THAT…
On Sunday morning the people of the US Social Forum brought their resolutions before the entire crowd, and then USSF staffer Alice Lovelace sent us on our way with a fiery poetic speech that reminded us that with this event we had proven that another America – which we know is so necessary – is indeed possible. She incited us to take the seeds sewn in this space back into our community.
We want to shout out the amazing Ruckus all volunteer training and logistics crew: Jia Ching Chen, Gopal Dayaneni, Kate Loewe, Kate Berrigan, Celeste Faison, Sagnicthe Salazar, Mattie Weiss, Meighan Davis, Cesar Maxit, Nisha Anand, Jamie Gooley, and Madeline Gardner, as well as Indigenous People’s Power Advisory Board Members Healther Milton-Lightning, Sharon Lungo and Robert Chanate.
With so much love, full of hope and ready for more work!
The Ruckus Staff – Adrienne, Megan, Marty, Satya, Hannah and our newest additions Associate Development Director Sabba Syal and Intern Janine Carmona