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Wed, 3/4/09, USSF NPC-Anchor Conference Call, 6pm EST

Note takers: Sylvia Orduño and Gwen Gaines, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization

Attendees: Josué Guillén (The Praxis Project), facilitator; Stephanie (Project South), Gwendolyn Gaines (MWRO), Michael Leon Guerrero (Grassroots Global Justice), Elena Herrada (Centro Obrero), Shawn Kimmel (Detroiters Working For Environmental Justice), Sylvia Orduño (MWRO), Diana Seales, (East Michigan Environmental Action Council), Rocio Valerio (EMEAC), Cindy Wiesner (Grassroots Global Justice), others?

Announcements: MWRO anchor members Maureen Taylor, Marian Kramer, Gwen Gaines, and Ann Rall will be in New York City 3/27-29 for a previously scheduled event and will miss the Detroit NPC-LOC meeting. However, a few NPC members will be in town beforehand to talk with MWRO. Elena Herrada has a previously scheduled event for 3/27 and will miss at least half of the meeting.

Conference call goal: To provide concrete information and feedback about USSF Atlanta and Detroit.

Conference agenda:

  • NPC feedback from USSF 2008
  • Division of labor
  • Added: Communication
  • Added: Information on NPC and new member process

NPC feedback from USSF 2008


  • Division of labor idea came from five anchors…who does what?
  • Hold coordination roles to different committees, get people engaged, make open, get people plugged in.
  • Biggest question throughout was how to get people plugged in.
  • Communication question is key—national, plus local and regional, including media strategies.
  • Perhaps split up financial management and administration of funds; assign to staff member? Need to have more discussion at NPC Detroit meeting.
  • What do anchors do? Examples: contracts, logistics, hotels, central site, park permits, outside sites. This can be a full-time effort. FYI: Each hotel had a site manager.
  • System for mass numbers? Housing, water (Atlanta put off way too long), first aid, parking for out-of-town buses and cars, security (that goes along with movement principles)—a flexible system for infrastructure.
  • Convene southeast organizations, see Atlanta report.
  • Have a regional organization to lead process? Perhaps SE Jobs With Justice?
  • Prepare for opening march: permits, route, significance.
  • Prepare big umbrella: big tents—where? How?
  • Tours? Engaging communities? Interaction? Workshops? Murals? Trainings? Clean up, recycling?
  • Solidarity housing and youth camps—Alice hired someone in Atlanta to coordinate.
  • Closer to USSF dates, provide stipends to key folks instead of full pay, e.g., $40/day.

Shawn: Have full-time staff for logistics?

Stephanie: Alice was national organizer—one paid staff person for 1 1/2 years. We can anticipate the need better this time. For 2008, one FT person for indigenous organizing; one person for 5 months as administrative assistant for Alice. Perhaps this time split national organizer and logistics person. Need a Detroit person who knows the town, can do the logistics.

Other needs, considerations:

  • Shared political landscape, frame.
  • Orientation about USSF and processes from international process to get U.S. to take a role in global work.
  • Relationship to economic, ecological crises in U.S. and all over the world.
  • Member understanding of what’s happening in Detroit and elsewhere—what are the main issues, key struggles? What’s the impetus for to how address in Detroit and other places?
  • Establishing how WSF works—develop relationships and working styles.
  • Learning from last errors.
  • Build communication.
  • Establish dates: collective discussion and decision; during last call, Elena and Marian Kramer spoke of Cobo Hall struggle, need to ensure people have access.

Elena: Should LOC do local fundraising?

Stephanie: Do local fundraising if there’s a local base. It helped Atlanta organizers.

Michael: NPC has funding proposals out for communications, organizing, etc. Need overall fundraising plan and strategy for Detroit. Perhaps a master plan for resources?

Elena: Detroit may be able to get funds from the upcoming Buck Dinner by drafting a proposal.

Stephanie: Will have to consider travel scholarships to get groups to Detroit, got many requests for Atlanta. One group leading the organizing process is really helpful, and then everyone else can add in.

Elena: UAW Local 22 and Local 600 said union halls cannot be used for non-union events, per new UAW memo.

Cindy: Establishing meeting objectives for March meeting.

  • Have team for facilitation committee for NPC 3/27-29: William, Bryce, Elena, Sharon, Jerome, (others?).
  • Create Social Forum territory, e.g., tents, youth camp, cultural events. How will Detroit bring forth this vision? Pros and cons of space? E.g., in Guatemala, struggle around university for space and public use…participants took it over.
  • Clarity around roles and decision making, parameters—how? Back and forth process? Review working group model—national, regional and local.
  • Coordinating volunteer time and efforts from political commitments. Who’s chairing what? Set up a local working group for now? What about 6 months from now?
  • Collective work plan? Develop timeline and bench marks.
  • Approving budget for Social Forum.
  • Resource mobilization and action—group has been meeting since last Social Forum. What is the budget as a whole? Priorities? Cadillac plans? Bare bones budget?
  • Develop staffing needs from work plan. What’s the division of labor?
  • New recruits to NPC? At this point no new members. Need to determine who, how, gaps, representation questions. Need bigger outreach strategy and clear expectations.
  • Laying out ground work, mapping of social movement groups—who do we do outreach to? Build the movement process. Many are waiting for Social Forum dates.
  • NPC having team meeting on 05 Mar 2009 to draft Detroit meeting and some logistics; thinking through needs.

Sylvia: Are there video conference call tools or resources to connect MWRO folks who will be in New York, or others

Michael: Video conferencing technology questions not so much a budgeting issue, video can be complicated. Maybe they can be connected via conference call.

Josué: It’s a challenge but need face-to-face time. We’re on a phenomenal path for the next 2 years.

Michael: Fundraising—had Southwest workers discussion today. Working on national movement fundraising. Planning 2 calls before Detroit meetings. Sharon and ??, working on NPC fundraising in Detroit, examining a budget especially for organizing. Assessing decisions about structure and process.

Sylvia: Detroit needs better communication tools. I spoke with Will and anchors about this and we’d like to move forward with setting up a wiki or something to help us share and manage information better.

Josué: Talk with me about Internet tools, wikis, or websites. Works with a non-profit technology organization. We pool resources for tech capabilities, suggest no commercial entities. Will be establishing a communication and technology working group.

Cindy: Suggests these areas to come into Detroit meeting with proposals.

  • Division of labor. Suggest anchors discuss if that structure makes sense, and be ready to present what works, ideas, e.g., fiscal (bank account).
  • Pros and cons of different venues for 20,000 people—activities, territories, universities, vacant lots, parks, fields, etc.
  • What are the staffing needs? Job descriptions?

Shawn: Can someone send Detroit the previous job descriptions?

Cindy: Alice can probably send Atlanta’s; Stephanie also has a copy.

Sylvia: Will march meeting also include a discussion of the division of labor between NPC and LOC?

Cindy: Yes, plus a discussion of regional organizing processes.

Josué: Since most MWRO organizers will be out of town from March 27-29, let’s schedule a smaller NPC meeting with anchors on March 25 at 5pm. Gwen will confirm with Marian and Maureen.

End of conference call as a whole. Some members remained on the line to discuss communication concerns and technology tools:

Sylvia: As I mentioned, we’re trying to set up processes and tools for better communication among Detroit LOC participants. We’d like to use a wiki. How can USSF help? Process?

Josué: Several thoughts…

--Much can be done, there’s no plan yet.
--For a separate wiki, need to be convinced that it will be used.
--Had for Atlanta, may be shifting to
--I handle technology for Social Forum, can create an account for everyone, e.g.,
--Can set up everything needed and no additional cost under USSF domain. Otherwise will have cost of another domain (e.g.,

Sylvia: Prior to this conference call and, again, after consulting with LOC/anchors, I contacted a Portland, OR group who does wikis. They’re really interested in working with the Social Forum.

Josué: More thoughts…

--We have access to more and more decent tools; always looking for inspired and motivating groups for communication and sharing info.
--I am the Technology Manager at The Praxis Project—only for social justice groups.
--Did all tech for last Social Forum.
--Social Forum ideals include transparency and that archives are publicly available.
--Concerning wikis—public? private?
--There’s much infrastructure out there.
--Tech pieces have been waiting for face-to-face meeting to get working group started again.
--Have web-based interfaces.
--Can set up emails and websites for $10/year.
--MayFirst has a tech collective (started as Internet hosting), help 500 organizations, turned into now 300 members--$200/year to share in tech resources.
--For Praxis’ $200 have 8 websites, 80 list-servs; all resources for this year go to USSF
--There’s so much tech work, can set up wikis on MayFirst servers.
--USSF tech group has 30-35 people.
--In lead up to Atlanta, website was fully dynamic, could register for workshops, post on boards, etc
--Creating an online database with calendar functionality can be difficult.
--Perhaps can work through more at Allied Media Conference in July with trainings.

Sylvia: layout the needs to me—calendar, organization lists, etc—concrete needs; ask Portland group to contact me.

Diana: Perhaps we can use Google Docs, can help set up.

Josué: Perhaps can help in short-term but prefer no commercial or corporate tools.