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USSF 2010 Program and Culture Working Group Report

USSF 2010 Program and Culture Working Group Vision Statement

Movement Transformation

We want to create solidarity amongst the various sectors of our movement at the USSF 2010. We want mass organizations and social movements to work towards convergence where possible and logical, and for our social movements to be ready to grow in size, scale, and politics. The movement we have at the end of the USSF 2010 should be more courageous, more committed, and more strategic than the one we started with.

Grassroots Participation

We must have a very high level of participation from grassroots organizations. The expertise of organizers and members of grassroots organizations must be valued. To accomplish this, we must make the planning process open and highly participatory to ensure the program design reflects the questions relevant to strengthening and growing grassroots struggles. Our outreach should emphasize the relevance of the USSF process to the daily work or grassroots struggles, and should highlight the connections between the USSF and the International World Social Forum process. At the social forum, we should have highly participatory spaces (achieved through equally participatory workshop and caucus proposal processes) for grassroots struggles and organizations to discuss and struggle through the challenges, opportunities, and lessons that they are finding in their work. Finally, we must create mechanisms to overcome major barriers to attendance, especially the high cost of travel and accommodation.

The Role of Cultural Programming

We believe that cultural programming of all kinds is crucial to making the Social Forum a dynamic, inspiring experience for all. Perhaps more importantly, we believe that cultural programming must be integrated into most aspects of the Social Forum (before and after plenaries, through an opening march and/or concert, and even during sign-in and registration). We want cultural programming to celebrate the depth and creativity of our struggles, through murals, dance parties, poetry, artistic performances, and many other forms. We think the cultural programming can create the opportunity for an extremely engaged and interactive experience at the USSF (at the tents and other creative spaces), and that this type of programming is likely to be one major way to grow and encourage local participation. Finally, we want the opportunity to share healthy meals at the USSF 2010. We believe it plays an essential role in encouraging people’s active participation, and we also believe that shared meals provide an unmatched opportunity for relationship-building that will prove useful at USSF 2010.

The Role of US Social Movements

We believe that the fight against US-led Imperialism must be at the center of the forum. One key goal of the forum must be to build the consciousness of the attendees around the role of Imperialism and all forms of exploitation and domination in our own communities and also globally.

Political Culture

We believe that our movement must be able to understand political differences clearly, engage in honest struggle with each other over those differences, and develop unity where possible. We are committed to a program at the USSF that respects differences and most importantly encourages struggle that is not necessarily antagonistic, so that we may continue to build unity together. We believe that this moment in our movement calls for political convergence amongst people and organizations, and that we should develop the needed level of unity to move towards that convergence. We believe that some forms of cultural programming can play a helpful role towards this end.

Format and Accessibility

We believe that we must pay close attention to format in order to accomplish our lofty vision for the USSF. We believe that the NPC and our workgroup must make the forum accessible and fully participatory in as many relevant languages as possible. We know that we want to see tent space similar to that of the USSF 2007 in Atlanta, and that we also want a fair amount of space for cultural programming. In addition, we’d like to see a space for children’s participation. The forum must also be accessible to people of all physical abilities. Finally, we want to make sure that our workgroup is working closely with other relevant workgroups to achieve the political goals, including the goal of convergence, of the USSF (e.g. the People’s Movement Assemblies workgroup).

Specific Suggestions From the Program and Culture Working Group

   * In our outreach and marketing:
         o Forward the message that what we are doing counts, that everyone’s efforts count. Honor the work we are doing.
         o Put intensive effort put into gathering workshop proposals from many diverse groups.
         o Promote the forum, not only as an event in Detroit, but also as a movement and a national period of action during the days it takes place.
         o Before the forum, use spontaneous art and performance within the community to get people involved and raise awareness within the community.
         o Printing locally is ideal.

   * In our art and music:
         o View the integration of culture as a way to move the whole Social Forum, not just as entertainment.
         o We want all cultural aspects to be geared to/reflect social justice in some way.
         o We want a tent city, representing diverse communities and social issues. We want it to be used as a highly interactive space for folks to actively create art. Have a tent with DJs and a mic for people to freestyle. Have a graffiti tent.
         o Bring in musical artists from all over the country to do one big performance together.
         o Include movement poets; they can articulate a movement vision in a way that touches folks.
         o Integrate art, bring art into Detroit: community murals and graffiti art in community gardens, on building faces, etc.
         o As people are standing in line for registration, have performance theater, spoken word, music, mural creation (on durable canvas).
         o March with the products of all the visual artistic expression at the closing march.

   * In our program:
         o We want a children’s forum.
         o We want a cultural opening, along with a march to start off the event.
         o We want to stay connected with the PMA Working Group in order to develop a broad program vision.
         o Our program should emphasize that we are a forward-looking process and that there is something that we want.
         o Create spaces for dialogue, for the creation of associations, national-sized movements. Have caucus times and spaces. Create a space for caucuses to report back on their goals and vision for the coming years. In putting out a call for workshops, also Put out a call for people to request, or offer to facilitate, caucuses.
         o We want to raise consciousness about the role the US has in shaping the futures of people around the world through domination.

   * Miscellaneous:
         o We would like a tech Wiki training at the NPC meeting.
         o We want to stress integration from the local to national level. We want to include the struggles and context of Detroit in the program and culture, and want to work as a team with local organizers.
         o We propose the creation of a joint program design group. We would like to create this team as soon as possible; it will exist throughout the planning process
         o Do grassroots fundraising so that those who want to can get to Detroit.
         o Include many languages at registration and throughout programming and workshops. (We need DLOC to bring forward what languages are needed, particularly in programming dealing with immigration.)
         o Build community through food. Create spaces for people to eat with each other. Incorporate breaks in the program for meals. Bring food to where people are.

Decisions and Process

   * We have been meeting once every two weeks via conference call, as the joint Program and Culture Working Group. Our regular meeting time is Mondays at 9pm Eastern. We have someone take minutes at each of our meetings and email them out to the list.
   * We have been making our decisions by consensus. If anyone is opposed to a decision, they express their concerns and we work as a group to meet these concerns.
   * Regarding separating into two Working Groups, one Program and one Culture, we decided to wait until after the NPC meeting to split into two groups. We wanted to stay together until we were finished with the larger visioning process. Our intention is to talk more about this at the NPC meeting. If we do separate, we intend upon maintaining regular communication between the two working groups, with joint conference calls not less than once a month.

USSF 2010 Program & Culture Work Group Timeline

Timeline March 2009 – July 2010

Note: Once overall Program Design is developed at NPC July 2009 meeting, we will add more detail, especially around the political culture of USSF and cultural programming.

March to now:

  1. Built working group (24, including good Detroit rep & national rep & growing)
  2. Set up listserve (by Mallory from Tech & kiran volunteered to be administrator)
  3. Regular bi-weekly calls (Mon @ 9pm ET/8pm CT/6pm PT will be regular time)
  4. Collective leadership going into July NPC (Oya & Will – Detroit, kiran, Rishi, Jerome & walda) of program & culture components of WG
  5. No definitive decision at national level on 1 WG w/2 subgroups or 2 WGs with collaboration & coordination (at DLOC level 1 WG to date)

July – October

  1. Participate in NPC development of overall program design for Cobo Hall, Hart Plaza, other venues (cultural programming, workshops, plenaries, opening march & closing, assemblies & peoples movement assembly process, open spaces, tents, other) from NPC July meeting
  2. Recommendation to NPC: Set up NPC overarching Program Design team: includes reps from Program / Culture, PMA, Plenaries (if separate), Opening / Closing march / ceremony, Logistics, Tech, Outreach, International & whoever doing printed program
  3. Possible consultations (with Outreach): to help determine “tracts” or themes for organizing program, build for participation, submission of self-organized proposals
  4. In Detroit area work with Outreach to do local consultations & insure grounding in local communities – find out how they want to participate – encourage programmatic / cultural participation
  5. Develop on-line submission form w/ Tech (needs vast improvements over 2007) by September 30th (absolute deadline, earlier if possible)
  6. Post on-line submission form on website & other outreach media by September 30th

November – January

  1. Work on overarching programming / cultural spaces  (needs detail @ / after NPC meeting)
  2. Work on getting self-organized proposals in, especially solicit, joint proposals, bigger pieces
  3. Work with Logistics on details of space
  4. Work with PMA on PMA / assembly process of programming
  5. Tents – how will they intersect with Program / Culture?

February – March

  1. Deadline for self-organized proposals: March 1, 2010
  2. Push to get self-organized proposals in, start to review, if needed communicate with orgs, networks, alliances, local communities
  3. Work with logistics – will we have enough space? How do we do “program / culture” in general space of Cobo Hall & Hart Plaza
  4. Have draft of all pieces of Program Design

April – May

  1. Decisions on self-organized proposals: April 20, 2010 (absolute deadline, earlier if possible)
  2. Emails go out as decisions made, all decisions, emails by April 20
  3. Finalize all aspects of Program Design (cultural programming, workshops, plenaries, opening march & closing, assemblies & peoples movement assembly process, open spaces, tents, other)
  4. Work with logistics on location of all aspects “Program”
  5. Layout printed program – who, how?
  6. Work with printed program folks to get info for printed program to them by May 15
  7. Program goes to printer by May 20 (absolute dea, earlier if possible)
  8. Program on-line by May 20 (absolute deadline, earlier if possible)


  1. Get printed program June 15
  2. Last minute details
  3. Logistics, materials, set-up for Cobo & Hart Plaza spaces
  4. Teams for crisis management
  5. Arrive June 15 to 20
  6. USSF II June 22-26
  7. Initial debrief & evaluation


  1. Extended debrief & evaluation
  2. What worked, what didn’t & lessons learned
  3. Write-up report

Questions to answer / affirm

  1. 5-day walk through: overall Program Design
  2. How do we insure full integration DLOC Program & Culture WG with our/NPC Program & Culture WG in overall work?
  3. How does this overall program design move forward the processes of movement convergence & movement building? How does it bring forward our visions and our strategies for fundamental social transformation?
  4. How many & what will tracts / themes be?
  5. Who will do printed program lay-out & design and who will print it? Will it look consistent/ continuous with 2007 Program? If changes, what, why? (no need to reinvent)
  6. Only organizations submit self-organized proposals, requests for open space, etc.
  7. Individuals w/ their organizational affiliation have to be registered & paid to submit proposal
  8. Urge at least 2 organizations to submit all proposals
  9. Limit of 1 /  2 proposal(s) per organization as lead org
 10. Length & time / space self-organized workshops
 11. Details all venues, exact number rooms at each & all time slots
 12. Room allocation details


Return to Program/Culture WG main page.