Saturday, June 30, 2007

farewell to ussf

It's been such a crazy couple of days but nothing could have ended it on better note then the plenary on Liberating Gender and Sexuality. All of the speakers were incredible. One of the most memorable quotes of my time here was by Imani Henry when she said "if another world is possible, then a u.s isn't necessary with". Mia Mingus left me completly amazed and the honor of listening to Loretta Ross and the others was an experience almost too much to handle.

I left the civic center with a pounding head and a pounding heart, but for the first time since i've been here, the two were insync.

In a earlier workshop i had this morning, they asked us to put on paper the burning questions that we fall asleep thinking of and awaking to. Questions we focused on is what "change" really is, and does it really last. I felt so cynical for a moment and thought of change as some fickle friend you know of that never keeps her word. But tonight i heared her speak and and i figured that the word isn't for her to keep but mine. I hope that makes some sense since i've been trying to make some sense of everything these past four days.

As this comes to a close i'm making resolutions with myself of just how i'm actually going to take back home what i've gotten out of these stories and workshops and people. It's been crazy and fun and ther's not a doubt in my mind that it's been historical and life-affirming as well.

remembering to breathe

shocking as it may seem, i was not prepared for the u.s social forum. What i knew and was expecting was that like other conferences i was going to meet dozens upon dozens of briallant people from all over the country. I also expecting for the workshops to be amazing and inspiring for me and my work. But what i was not prepared for was the roller coaster and confusion of emotions i was going through as i went from table to workshop, from film to plenary, from person to person.

On my first day, at 10:30 in the morning i walked into a workshop by United to End Racism on Listening to End Opression. Sessions of listening without speaking and speaking without listening for five minutes was so hard for me, I revealed more about myself that i would ever want to and i heared more that i was capable of processing without feeling just as hurt. Then i went to the Youth Connecting workshop where we had to do the same excercise for ten minutes. After telling my story and hearing these experiences of others, i found that after a lot of these workshops, although i felt i was going through some life-changing moments, i emotionally felt heavy and confused (i'm sure the heat didn't help any).

So because the ussf is great in every way, i went to visit the healing center for meditation and even that was such a crazy experience. I'm keeping these lessons with me even after i leave the chaos of ussf, that sometimes remembering to breathe is enough to keep you stable. Just remembering to breathe.


peace out.

I've learned a lot. and I've learned a lot about what i don't know.

One thing I've been turning over in my head for the last 10 hours is video as a means of empowerment and education. it all started while i listened to these sisters from Building Movement and their collaborators who use videos for advocacy work, to help their communities understand stuff that they aren't otherwise getting. brilliant.

Now I have this idea about how when i get home I'm gonna get together some people and start my kids on a steady diet of video making and watching. of course, since i work in social services, I'm also gonna have to get myself on a steady diet of grant writing to make it happen. this is fine. i like writing.

I've learned about why history is important to teach, and learn, and seek out.

today i also learned about the steps of the transformation process: learn, awareness, vision, strategy, action, and reflection/ evaluation. this is good to know. it seems i usually loos it somewhere around strategy. I learned that from the Labor/ Community Strategy Center.

tonight's plenary on liberation of gender and sexuality was fantastic. each speaker brought forth precise descriptions of why feminism still matters. sometimes, i spend so much time with kids that it becomes difficult for me to articulate my beliefs. hearing others so clearly present theirs has given me the kick I've been looking for- inspiration to recommit myself to freedom. Loretta Ross was AMAZING.

Here's what I scribbled down as she spoke:
- a slave cannot own a slave
- competitive victimhood- be careful that you don't put others down to raise yourself up.
- they may be your color, but they're not your kind
They had it TOGETHER. They were the people who head the Bus Riders' Union in LA.
- white supremacy would gladly replace anyone, as long as there's some one to oppress
- leadership is an opportunity to serve. To take risks, make mistakes, be accountable
- beware of the colonization of not only the mind and the body but of peoples, and communities. Imperialism ans colonialism are mighty opponents to us.

ok, well. its been real. i gotta go to bed so i can catch the early flight home. bye!

This is why it's HOT

Can I first just say WOW! I have had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing people, doing profound and much needed work in their/our communities. It is truly a privilege to share a room with all the amazing minds at the United States Social Forum.

The first day or so, I was a little disoriented. It took a while for me to figure out how I was going to 1) navigate my way between the hotels to get to the workshops that I wanted to attend, 2) narrow down to one workshop the 10 or so that I would like to attend in any given moment, and 3) find time to eat J I would have to say that by Friday and Saturday I pretty much had it figured out.

I was really impressed at the degree to which people are really focused on getting as much learnin’ done at the forum as possible. We all have risen early, stayed up late, and kept the touring of beautiful Atlanta to a minimum. Good Work Everyone! As a result, I can see from the workshops that I participated in, we are all going to have acquired many tools to take home with us.

On another note, and I’m just being real yall’, I find it kind of strange that a Social Form that houses org’s that place a high level of criticism on the state, capitalism, and resources, chose its location to be in fancy downtown Atlanta, in the finest hotels no less. Now mind you, most of the activists are staying 4+ to a room, and even though I am an Atlanta ex-pat, I cant think of a single area of town that could possibly hold this number of people, it still feels kind of weird. No recycling! What's up with that, I know that the recycling industry creates huge waste, and usurps many resources, but as any harm reductionist would say, even a little positive change goes a long, long, way.

You know what I realized, that the workshops were just long enough, and provided just enough information and inspiration, that I know what I need to do my homework on. I’m fired up Yall! I want to redouble my efforts, and expand the work that I am doing. I want to get out there and make the change that I want to see. I also realize that I need to improve my facilitating and educating skills, there are some really dope educators out here and I have much to learn from everyone of them.

A more detailed write-up of what I learned to follow tomorrow J


Well, its Saturday night and I have finally found the time to sit down and write. Needless to say, running nonstop, I am exhausted. The days have been filled with iced tea, sweat, hugs, reunions, making new friends, building new alliances and allies. I am overwhelmed, and I know that it will take me awhile to really be able to process it all.

Right now I am having difficulty focusing because the two people next to me began an impromptu, non chalant discussion and have since being building connections, exchanging information, and meeting "beautiful inspiring people."

So, I guess you have to excuse me, I can't really bring myself to focus at staring at a pixeled screen when there are so many discussions to have and workshops to be a part of.

peace out for now. more soon...

Through the eyes of Chaka B prt. 2

I will definitely miss the atmosphere of the US Social Forum, the sweet ice tea and my hotel room with AC ( I wish I could take it with me to Chi-town)
I was able to cram in a fair amount of workshops during these last few days, most of which have left me heated and inspired to keep on fighting for peoples rights. Here are the workshops that I attended:

They Left Us Here to Die: Katrina and Ethnic Cleansing in New Orl. & Mississippi Gulf-People's Hurricane Relief Fund

Stopping the Rail to Jail:the US's Addiction to Incarcerating Youth of Color-The Community Justice Network for Youth

Black & Brown for Alliance Building-Centro por La Justicia

Fuck The Police: Why Hip Hop Does Not Cooperate with Law Enforcement Agencies-National Hip Hop Political Convention

All of these amazing workshops, all of the issues and topics that I have heard being debated so far this week have inter-connected and kriss-crossed so much so that as Susana said earlier in her blog...I feel that the most important piece that has come out of this forum for me, is that all of these issues are important to see the overall picture of how people of color and working class people are oppressed. That all of us need to work on these multiple issues, if we want to make serious head-way as a collective that can bring about change.
There is so much work to do, I hope that I will be able to continue to build with all of the dope people that I have been blessed to meet with this week. Shout out to all of the Third Wave recipients and the Third Wave staff! Thank you for this inspiring experience :)

Winding Down...

Oh, Atlanta! So hot, so hilly, so full of sweet tea. I don't think a day's gone by where I haven't gotten lost just within the four blocks of the hotel. All the same, this experience has been informative and interesting, and the midday sweet tea pick-me-ups really do trump iced coffee.

I don't often travel south, so being in a place where they still refer to Northerners as Yankees or "yellow" is very interesting. Like others on this blog, it has also brought up thoughts and conversations about the image of movements labeled as "leftist". The hotel leaves a copy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution every morning, so on Thursday I was eager to see what kind of coverage the local media would give the USSF. I read the following article in the Metro section:
Unions and liberal organizations joined with the left-wing fringe Wednesday on a 1,000-person march through downtown Atlanta to demand everything from universal health care and worker rights to an end to U.S meddling in Venezuela and the Bush presidency.
This and ongoing coverage is very biased, but I guess that's not very surprising. It brings up this image of reformers as crazy Lefty Communists that is a stigma not easily dispelled and is something that has not gotten enough attention to correct... or maybe I didn't make it to the right workshop for this type of discussion! There is/was so much to do in such a short time. I don't feel like time was wasted because the best practice is reflective practice, and I have been doing plenty of that these past few days.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a safe trip home!
Wow, as I write this it just hit me how tired I am. I think the excitement and people and workshops and conversations and heat have finally caught up to me a bit, that or I am just an old man as the youth I work with back home like to say. I keep thinking about tomorrow, dreading the long drive back home, and knowing that on Monday it’s back to being in a space where conversations like I’ve had, people like I’ve met, are few and even further between. An event this huge has been so overwhelming in so many ways, but at the same time so amazing that putting words to it has been so hard. Simply being able to connect with other Southern folks who feel the same isolation that I do, having that solidarity is comforting in a weird way. I know Monday there will be countless questions and tons of mail in my in box and I’m trying not to think of that right now and just be in the moment and enjoy what’s going on around me as tired as I am (okay and I’m totally thinking about the amazingly comfortable bed back at the hotel that feels so decedent to be sleeping in). To explain the USSF is impossible I think, it’s one of those events that is life changing and continues to affirm why I do the work that I do.

"power to the people"

it's been hot here.
and really inspiring.

yesterday i went to a workshop entitled "progressive anarchy: anarchism for the future." the workshop was composed of people from a variety of anarchist movements/organizations, including NEFAC (NorthEastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists), Atlanta Anarchists, WSA (Workers' Solidarity Association), and NYMAA (NY Metro Alliance of Anarchists). My friend Kelly from Boston was reppin NEFAC...I was especially moved by her talk, and really felt connected to what she had to say. She talked about how she used to steer away from explicitly anarchist organizations/organizing because she felt it wasn't really speaking in concrete and pragmatic ways to working people of colors' experiences. But after time she felt like she had to be a bridge between the two (identifying in both areas), and this is the reason why she is in NEFAC....because these folks ARE doing anarchist work (direct democracy, concensus, horizontal relationships) without an explicit identification. i really felt her on that and was really glad that another anti-authoritarian woman of color felt that way too.

after that i was going to attend a workshop on Participatory Economics with Michael Alpert, but heard (through the grapevine) of an unpermitted march through the streets of Atlanta organized by the Poor Peoples' Economic Movement of Atlanta. some of us headed over to that. this experience not only gave me an opportunity to see outside Atlanta, but also talk to some folks from the surrounding area (in the SWELTERING HEAT!!) about their concerns and organizing. after an hour of marching in the atlanta heat, we ended our march at the Coke HQ, demanding that Coke end its abuses in a Colombian solidarity activist, i was really moved by the solidarity that was shown by all these folks for my people.

one of our chants was

power to the people
(power to the people)
the people's power
(the people's power)

and i really felt that.
and will bring that feeling back with me to providence.

Searching for a vision at the USSF

Susana De Anda USSF Blog 6.29.07

As the second day of the US Social Forum comes to a close, one theme has emerged from the various workshops and discussions: people are searching for a new direction for the left. Throughout all the conversations I hear, I see people looking to each other, to panelists, to workshops, for a vision of where the movement for social justice is headed. People are hungry for an understanding of what the left needs to do to make real change in the US.

Overwhelmingly, there is a message that we as members of different movements need to come together across our various divisions and isms. Everyone rallies around the cries of speakers to overcome differences in race, issue area, politics, etc. because without this unity we will never succeed in making real change. People clearly want to create bridges between all of our collective efforts in order to see the larger change we work for in our organizations and communities.

This urgency for change that hovers in the air underscores the larger dilemma: what is the vision for the left? What will pull us all together? As many people have pointed out, we failed to do so when Katrina hit, wreaking havoc. Overall, the left failed to not only provide crucial support for Katrina victims but the left also failed to fully pressure the government when its horrible management and institutional racism was revealed. Similarly, the left failed to provide a strong vision for the movement for immigrant rights. In California, where there millions marched for immigrant rights, that incredible energy dissipated as immigration bills moved through the Congress with little hope of providing real relief to immigrants and no clear direction for next steps emerged.

It is inspiring and encouraging to hear so many people and organizations calling for a move away from divisive, territorial politics that have torn the left apart for the past decades. There is a sense of the overwhelming need for not only for real change in the US, but also a real change in how we operate as organizations, movements and people working towards social change. One of the most immediate starting points is by moving away from the isolated, narrowly-focused approach of much social change work. This is not to say that everyone wants to adopt everyone's issues, but incorporating the awareness of and solidarity with other struggles has emerged as a key theme.

People are hungry for change, but they are also hungry for a vision. However, the part that seems missing is the how. How do we build these bridges and come together? What are the next steps we need to take to create a more unified front for social change? But we all keep looking to the panelist in front for that vision, or the organization putting on the workshop for the compelling message to gather around. As the final days of the USSF unfold, it seems many people will be looking for a cohesive vision that we can all come together around. It is my sincere hope that we can collectively find that vision, and that the cheers for unity echo way beyond the plenary sessions.

All of us or none

The reason I choose this title is becase i feel that we all are looking, for the same thing here at this gathering, and that is either justice for all, or none. i must say that this has been the most, profound experience I have ever had in my life!!!!!!!!!

The work shops were very moving and also the speakers were excellent.i have been here since wednesday morning, and have had little sleep, but how can you when there is so much going on here. The first day me and the housinng coordinator. of A New Way OF LIfe Re-entry Project,went to a workshop regarding durg court, and how they are helping people to stay cclean and the sevices they provide there. The second workshop was on transgender rights and how they are abused in and out of the system. Ok now for the juicy one-----The Plenary i don't know if I spelled that word right but ya'll know what I am talking about. The panel on thursday with the people from new orleans was by far the best experince I had yet. The unprinted stories is was i call them because we heard what they did not print or brodcast. My heart went out to all of those people because I did not know the damage that was done. It moved me to tears becuse, it is one thing to loose a love one or a friend but to loose your whole life and everything you know under water is somethingt totally diffrent. I was astonished at the testimonies, of those people who where strong enough to tell their story without breaking down, had that have been me I would have been in a straight jacket! But they say "god don't put nothin on u that u can't handle. And it just made me realize that I have so much to be thankful for. Those people are in great need of our help and if I can do anything although I don't have much I am willing to do it. I'd rather give the little that I have to the people who have absolutely nothing!!! One thing this gathering has taught me is that no fight is separate we all fighting for one thing and that is to live free and die happy!!!!!! The panel was a turn out, the civic center was so packed I think los angeles heard us. We have soo much power to change the world and I hope that by us all attending this helps us to carry the torch of justice to our comunities and our neighboorhoods, to impact some people enough to want to get involved. I just want to say thank you to the third wave foundation for blessing me with this extrodinary opportunity!!!!!!!!!
I'll Holla

Rain and Alarm Clocks

Wow, has this trip been rather "interesting". First off, coming here from Chicago was my first plane trip. I spent the last week constantly worrying about crashing, it was a mess! When we arrived in Atlanta, NOBODY here knew how to get to Pine St. After spending 2 hours and $30 in gas, we find our hotel only to be dissapointed that the hotel we're staying in was a knock off to your neighborhood Motel 6. None of my group members wanted to call and let the director know the Savannah Suites was far from sweet. That place was terrible!! Finally someone gets the nerves to call and explain to her that we're in the hotel from hell and roaches have been spotted. She tells us we should have called the day before!! So we get moved to the Holiday Inn (yayyyyyy!) and life has been grand!

Dealing with the hotel situation I missed a lot of the workshops I wanted to attend on thursday. So friday was my make-up day. I sat in on a Criminal Justice workshop and the Black Caucus Immigration workshop, I think that one should have lasted all day!!! Im leaving saturday evening so I have to make sure I get up extra early so I can get some more workshops.

Friday, June 29, 2007

friday is the new wednesday

hey all,

first of all, theres something i need to get off my chest- ATL is hot- and the sun is relentless. I'm bringing an air- conditioned bubble for my next trip here. or maybe the thing is that i spent a great deal of the day walking in the wrong direction. hmmm. ok, im over it.

so- today was decent. frustrating- i found that the majority of things i really wanted to go to were the farthest away from where i am, and apparently, i do not understand the bus system, because after a failed attempt to make it to L5P, pouted my way to the renaissance to check out a session on Urban Youth Growth and Development put on by this agency called GlobalHood.

They are a pretty interesting group of people and Alba outlined a youth development program hat they've been researching and developing for 3 years. that's a long time to work without results... so i give her respect for that. the basic concept is take a young adult who has pretty much fallen through the cracks, but does not want to be down there and hook him to an intensely personalized, individually- based program of mentorship, training, and international rural development work to break them from their situation. once they return from their international trip, they come back to the hood and use their skills at home.

coming from a place with its fair share of janky NGO's i am concerned that the kid will come back here, all jazzed up to work, and end up connected to some irresponsible NGO who crushes their spirit. Alba assured me that she would take this into consideration...check it...

tomorrow, if I'm feeling ambitious i will attempt the trip to little five points again. otherwise it looks as if ill be at the hotels all day. call me if you need a partner. 312- 479- 5385. for real. or if you wanna check this out hit me up.

Ahmay Ahgo

Hi, everyone!

Well, much like Rhea, I came alone (*sidenote: we should have met up since we both came from Chicago!). The first day, Wednesday, was a bit daunting, since there were so many groups, organizations, communities, etc. who already had a strong bond. I’ve been in “school” mode for the past few years, so I almost forgot what it was like to be able to connect with the bounty of organizations, programs and… people!

By far, the most amazing experience I’ve had so far was at the “Engaging Black Youth” workshop, combined with a workshop on “Sexism in Hip Hop” facilitated by Dereca Blackmon of Leadership Excellence in conjunction with the National Hip Hop Political Convention. Within this workshop, I was able to observe what is known as a “walk through”. In this activity, five women (Jessica Lashon of Chicago, Regina Kelly of Texas, Adelic Mosely of Atlanta, Pamela Bush of Boston and Randa Powell of Oakland – sorry, I've butchered most of these names) lined up on stage and repeated disrespectful language they had encountered in their lives as five young men (Brent of Oakland, Darrell of Baltimore, Kelon of St. Louis, Dante of Chelsea, MA and Michael Chung of Chelsea, MA) walked by them one-by-one.

The emotions from this activity are hard to describe. I had seen and read about programs like this, but it truly is about the experience. It had been so long since I have felt such a deep feeling of hurt and pain. As an educator, these are the feelings that are hard to deal with but most important to bring to the forefront. It is the act of letting go of the “internalized oppression” in which young women can feel love and respected and young men can become men. While this particular program is intended for African-American youth ages 14-18, I feel like it has the utmost relevancy in the elementary grades. After all, racism and sexism are not ageist.
Marching. I feel like nothing can compair to the feeling of being in a crowd of like minded people, marching together for a common good. The sounds of drums and horns and bells and so many people, the expereince was so overwhelming it was hard to swallow the lump in my throat that still comes up when I think about this. Being in the middle of the march and looking back and seeing no end to the people, and looking forward and not even being able to see the beinging, and knowing that I was a part of it. It's been so long since I've felt hope for the movement that I love and that feeds me like no food ever could. To be with my comrads, my family, nothing can compair to this feeling that one day I know that things will be better, to know that there are people fighting so that my grandchildren will be able to sit around and hear my stories of how I marched with the social forum and made change in the wolrd, an experience like this is one in a life time.

"be honest with yourselves"

it's kind of surreal.

i can't really totally explain how beautiful it was for me when i first walked into the civic center. i had gotten off the MARTA (which is a beauty compared to the NYC transit system!) and was wondering lost around finding my hotel. after gathering myself together, i walked over to the center and was just mezmerized (sp??) with the sight of it. thousands and i mean THOUSANDS of peoples from all around---LGBTQ activists, human rights activists, kids!, clowns, dancers, Katrina victims, indigenous activists, labor activists, my fellow students....all together. it was an unforgettable sight.

after meeting up with old friends and making new ones, i spent most of the day preparing for my workshop on "intergenerational organizing and the new SDS." i was really nervous, not really quite sure what the turnout would be....and Ashanti Alston was going to be on the panel too!! Betita Martinez was going to be originally on the panel (!!), but complications arose with her flight. in any case, the workshop was AMAZING, much better than i had expected or imagined. it was composed of myself, ashanti (anarchist panther, estacion libra, black liberation army), bob wing (founder of COLORLINES magazines, co-founder of UFPJ), david metz (direct action anti-nuclear activist), madeline garber (SDS, war resisters league), and josh russell (one of the most amazing young activists i have ever met---for real---Rain Forest Action Network and SDS). basically, us SDSers talked about the challenges and successes of organizing with older folks, esp. with SDS's longstanding and complicated history. bob, david, and ashanti had some really enlightening things to say (afterall, they've been all), and really pushed us to think critically about not only our own organizing ("be honest with yourselves....all the time" bob) and also with making sure us young folks make autonomy for ourselves ("you gotta make room for yourselves. breathing space" ashanti), and we need to work to make those relationships horizontal ("there's a difference between being a LEADER [authoritarian] and LEADERSHIP....we need the latter" david). it was an honor to be in the room with these veterans of past movements.

i also went to another workshop on colombian trade activists....this issue means a lot to me since my aunt (and godmother) is a coffee union organizer in Colombia (where according to a United Steel Workers' census in 2000, 60% of the union organizers are killed a year). i was really inspired by this one man, german, who was an afro-colombian organizer working against the recent biofuel struggle in colombia....

soon i will be heading to another workshop---on immigrant rights. then one on student organizing.

i guess...i am kind of overwhelmed. but in a really, really, really good way.

i guess i'm just really, really happy to be here.

being honest with myself.

We dance together

It's kind of surreal that we've only been here for just one day.

I arrived in Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon, and immediately found other USSF folks in the van on the way from the airport to the hotel. No time was wasted; I immediately jumped into a great conversation with a woman who works for a leg of Pacifica radio in L.A. about youth activism, the work she does in California, and the work that I do at Third Wave. And in just over a day, I already feel like I've had so many important conversations about so many issues that feed my passion for the work: food justice, eugenics and reproductive technologies, sex workers' rights, human trafficking, academia and its place in the movement, the commodification of marginalized peoples and especially bodies of color. These, of course, among many others.

There are so many issues that people bring to the table here at the US Social Forum that it can feel quite overwhelming. As someone deeply invested in cross-movement work and movement building, I wonder how we can keep these thousands of important, pressing issues in mind while doing the work, and also attempting to forge coalitions between activists and the movements we serve, even when (and especially when?) we don't agree.

Tonight, I attended the 20 year anniversary party of Jobs With Justice. It was a beautifully raucous celebration attended by hundreds of folks from the conference, celebrating two decades of organizing workers and our convergence at the conference. After my friends left, I decided to stay a bit and listen to the live band that had the dance floor packed. Do you know what it's like to dance with hundreds of people shaking it to a live version of "Sexy Back?" The floor was literally shaking with our movements. I had a mini epiphany in that moment, if you'll indulge my metaphor.

What I saw on the dance floor were people gathered from different arenas of social justice work celebrating loudly. We all danced in time to the music being played for us and we were at once individual dancers, and also part of a larger collective of people moving their bodies in celebration. People danced in their own styles and at different abilities of rhythm and movement; some were partnered, some were in larger groups, some like me were alone. But we all were able to revel in the beauty of the music and each others' company. And we were a sight to see, and feel, and hear.

Is this, perhaps, the potential of cross-movement work? Where we dance alone, dance together, and are able to use our collective power to make the floor shake with our might?

Being at a conference of nearly 10,000 certainly gives me hope and faith in our potential to make change. I am imaginging all of the hundreds of thousands of conversations that people are having with each other, and dreaming of the ideas, and alliances, and actions that will inevitably be born here in this space and time. This overwhelms me in the best of ways.

Shanina's blog

Day 1 – The Adventure…

My alarm clock decided that it would be okay not to wake me up at 4 o’clock to catch my airplane. Instead, my mom woke me up. After I got myself together, my brother in law drove me to the Oakland Coliseum Bart Station so that I can get to SFO Airport. Before I left the car, he said a prayer for me that cooled my nerves. I gave him a hug and now I was on my way.

I thought that was the end of my detour, but when I get to the Airport, I was delayed not once but three times. One was due to technical problems, the second was staffing and the third was the plane was just late. Along with the delays, I had to change gates 6 times. By now, I was praying, Lord will I every make it to the U.S. Social Forum? At a point, I was wishing that I was like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like the Social Forum.” But I praise God that I was safe and that my needs of a flight were arranged.

After the long flight… I finally made it!!! I walked the Atlanta Airport, lost in where my luggage and staff members were but eventually found them. Got on the MATRA transit system and off to the Westin Hotel.

The night lights of ATL was great to see, but I know there will be more to come…

Day 2 – What a Day…

So much information… so much networking… so many organizations… where do I start???

Well, I started off, going to the Ms. Foundation breakfast to met scholarship recipients like my self along with meeting my girl, Courtney from Why Give. After the breakfast… I registrar and headed towards the Civic Center. It was a 20-minute walk where I dodged the sun with Atlanta tall buildings. Once arriving, I was amazed of the umbrellas of movements that are represented here, such as the women’s movement, youth movement, reproductive justice, immigrant rights, media advocacy and the list goes on and on… where do you start and where do you end? I walked all over the streets of Downtown Atlanta from the Westin Hotel to the Civic Center to the Marriott and it goes on… I was having such an inspirational day, that I am thinking about doing another conference.

After my last workshop, I walked back to my hotel to regroup from the day and to get ready for dinner with my 3rd Wave folks. Dinner was lovely along with the company to share it with.

It is an honor to be surrounded by women and people that have a purpose and passion for what they do.

The saga continues…

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Through the eyes of Chaka B prt. 1

I really didn't know what to expect from the US Social Forum. Being a part of the Americorp program 'Public Allies Chicago', a course which advances diverse young leaders to strengthen communities & non-profits. I thought that I had absorbed as much knowledge as I could this year. That I cared enough, to continue working for systematic change through social justice work...
I had come to understand the sad and often complex disparities between being empowered by the knowledge of the various issues which black & brown people face daily and being frustrated with the racism/classicism and sexism that exists within the philanthropy sector.
So the USSF for me, at first was just an escape from the 3.5 jobs that I have to do in order to get by in Chicago. A place that I was hoping would be a good space for me to figure out my next career move, my next re-location within the States, and my current youth to adult transitional phase. So that I could be inspired to take the next jump forward towards my future.

I have been inspired by seeing the true reflection of social justice here, within this diverse group of people which make up the first year of USSF.
Meeting so many activists who are not willing to settle and accept the hand they have been dealt with. Who want to see a change now, within our lifetime, can only give me hope.
I just pray that this group of people will continue to have the passion and drive which brought them here, to change society's institutions.

day 1 and a picture of me

okay. hi. i took a break to go back to my hotel ( red roof inn, sis) to drop off all of the flyers and info i spent this morning collecting.

first of all, please stop and sat hi to me if you see me because i'd like to meet you, and because i came alone.
i suppose that at this point, I'm expecting that the majority of my time spent here will be focused on trying to figure out how to make all of this information understandable...or acceptable to those i intend to bring it back to. it is not uncommon for me to find myself in a position where i have a lot to share, and some solid evidence to back it up, but no one who wants to listen to me. people who will argue that the community has already been lost and that each of its residents are simultaneously to blame and at fault for it. the thing is, i really believe that its the responsibility of the adults to clear the path that we want the youth to take. 'cuz my kids, well they barely know what a compass is.

the ACLU had a good session called "education vs incarceration" on how current policy makes it really hard for kids without a lot of support or resources to A) FINISH school and B) stay out of the prison system.

fact of the day: "they" determine how many jails to build based on the standardized test scores of 3rd graders. huh?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Anticipation and Hello

Hello there everyone!! It's the night before the USSF, and I cant wait to participate. Just trying to figure out this whole Blog thing, since I'm new to it.

Hello again!

If you'd like to read all about our fabulous scholarship recipients, visit our website and check out the docket!

See You Thursday!

Don't forget to check your email and RSVP for the breakfast on Thursday!

I can't wait to meet you all in a matter of days!

Monday, June 25, 2007

ahh--the blogosphere!

Originally uploaded by s_neem
so, i never thought myself to be a blogger and here i am trying to figure out how to upload photos and interact with the third wave blog. it's good for me, i suppose!
this is my attempt to upload a photo to add to my page. i'm not sure where this gets posted...
wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Hello all!

Welcome to Third Wave's blog! All of us are incredibly excited about attending the first ever Social Forum held in the United States, where at the end of this month, thousands of activists from across movements will gather to learn, educate, network and build bridges. In Atlanta, we will get the chance to learn more about all of the fantastic social justice work being done around the country and how we might better collaborate with each other. The US Social forum will be a place where activists can strategize about how to better address the many pressing issues that face our communities.

Because Third Wave is an organization deeply invested in the cross-movement work that will happen at this historic conference, we decided to give scholarships to 22 young activists from around the country to attend the USSF. In this space over the next few weeks, you will find blog entries about our experiences of and thoughts about the US Social Forum from Third Wave staff and scholarship recipients. We hope you look forward to reading this blog as much as we enjoy writing in it.

See you in Atlanta!