There is so much we want to tell you about the USSF. We trained, we supported actions, we hosted a People’s Movement Assembly, we participated on the National Planning Committee – we invested our time and energy deeply in building movement and alliance through the forum process. The thing is – we met the most amazing people during this process – people who inspired us and taught us so much about doing this work with integrity. We want you to hear it in the words of those we worked with, and those who did the work.
Here is how the forum went, from those who were there:
"The Ruckus Society played a lead role – creating, coordinating and delivering a creative and powerful day of action for the people of Detroit and communities everywhere. In a time when the world needs urgent, systemic and transformative change, grassroots people’s movement’s are required to be built on the streets and in our communities, not in meeting rooms and policy arenas. This is where the Ruckus Society’s range of skills are essential for building a revolutionary path. The Ruckus Society’s’ highly principled commitment to community and environmental justice should be modeled by action coordinators and movement builders everywhere. The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives – communities fighting corporate polluters around the world are indebted to this commitment, and when Zero Waste Detroit shuts down the world’s largest waste incinerator, we will remember that this would not have been possible without the Ruckus Society."
-Ananda Lee Tan, GAIA
“I would like to give a BIG THANK YOU to Ruckus and the other organizations that assisted us so in the social forum. It was truly an honor to meet and work so briefly with such tremendous people. It has given me a new breath of life, and for the first time in a long while I feel that we can actually make a change.”
– Rhonda Anderson, Zero Waste Detroit
“Isaac built all the coffins after the first one, he painted them all, he reinforced the one we had built, and the rest. They went on the march and they went to the PMAs – I just thank God for Isaac!”
– Gwendolyn Gaines, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (on an action which called for 17 coffins to represent those killed when the Detroit Thomas Edison energy company turned off their heat)
“Working with Ruckus on our action at the US Social Forum was everything a grassroots organizing group could ask for. Imagine getting a hand from some of the most creative, energetic, and effective thinkers, dreamers, and doers in our movement today! That’s what it’s like to work with Ruckus! A huge thanks!!”
– Minsu Longiaru, ROC-Michigan, whom we helped to plan a flashmob style action on Andiamo’s restaurant chain, calling for fair and humane treatment of their workers
"It was wonderful and humbling to help set the space up for dancing, music, theatre, sunflower creation, etc. and watch people come in from all over the country and plug in, get creative and add their own personal spice to it. A big highlight was watching people’s faces, some moved to tears, watching the big sunflowers walking by."
-Levana Saxon, Ruckus network, Action Convergence Center
“This is what we have been waiting for, a Social Forum in deep partnership with community, that allows us to mutually bring our skills to the table and create actions that lend power to that communities struggle. I am so proud of our comrades at Ruckus, who bring with them their integrity, their strategic minds, and their amazing actions skills and experience. I hope Detroit has gained more capacity to hold down action, as they have given us the vision of a resilient community!
– Sharon Lungo, Ruckus Co-Director, Incinerator Action Coordinator
PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT ASSEMBLY
On June 25th, the Ruckus Society sponsored the EcoJustice People’s Movement Assembly with Movement Generation, APEN, and many more partners. Adrienne Maree Brown was a part of the facilitation team, working with amazing collaborators to create a space of grounding, alignment, and pushing the edges of what a radical movement for people and the planet needs to look like in the US.
“What was truly amazing is the level to which the organizers of (the Eco-Justice) PMA modeled, integrated and echoed the commitment to transformative movement building in their session. The organizers integrated centering, story/testimony, and forward stance practice into the fabric of the PMA. It had a huge impact on the feeling and outcome of the PMA. In this moment I felt the power of having depth and breath/width in the room at the same time. Organizers of the PMA repeatedly referred to the need for transformative leadership. It also became a formal part of their resolution for moving Eco Justice forward. They had organizers of other PMAs come to theirs and report back. They too referred to transformative leadership, and they also had a clearly aligned sense of vision and purpose. You could feel and see this alignment as something happening beyond the walls of the one PMA.”
-Kristen Zimmerman, Movement Strategy Center, EcoJustice PMA participant
[tom goldtooth speaks at ecojustice pma]
“Ruckus can’t stand on the sidelines and hope that people ask us to do the kind of action that’s needed – we have to be at the table, helping to hold the space and shepherd in a period of deeply effective and impactful action. We have to answer the call from Cochabamba, from the rest of the world, to change this country’s policies and behavior immediately. The EcoJustice PMA was designed with that dual need for depth and for urgency, and it was so historic, so deeply rooted, and so clear in it’s outcomes. I am excited for the next steps, to see this aligned movement in action.”
-Adrienne Maree Brown, facilitator
[adrienne grounds the PMA body]
On Thursday, June 24th, The Ruckus Society teamed up with Training for Change to offer a four-hour workshop at the USSF designed to help participants develop creative symbolic action ideas. Trainers Isaac Martin, Hannah Strange, Celia Kutz, and Andrew Willis Garces shared exercises that help groups flex their creative muscles, adopt a "yes… and" mentality, stretch beyond the ritualized rally/march/rally format and escalate campaign pressure using innovative tactics that tell a story.
“The room was packed from wall to wall with 100 eager participants. The result? Incredible.
How about a classroom projected on the side of a closed-down school building to bring attention to education funding cuts in California? Or a drag show outside of the Philly subway station to protest gender requirements on public transportation passes? Sound more powerful than your typical march? We think so too.”
– Hannah Strange, Ruckus trainer
For more photos of all the Ruckus USSF action, please check our Flickr page!