Which way for the Northwest Social Forum?

Which way for the Northwest Social Forum? A dialog on cross-issue organizing

Amoshaun Toft, Nancy Van Leuven, Lance Bennett, Jonathan Tomhave, Mary Lynn Veden, Chris Wells and Lea Werbel.

The Northwest Social Forum (NWSF) was organized over a 2 ½ year period, leading up to a planned weekend long event in Seattle, Washington. Since the World Social Forum was started in 2001 in Brazil, local and regional Social Fora have become a significant positive force in global justice organizing by connecting activists and organize rs across issues and geography,resulting in several movement coalitions and actions. The NWSF would have been the second Social Forum in the US, following the Boston Social Forum. Concerns about process emerged 2½ months before the planned event, eventually resulting in the Indigenous Planning Committee’s decision to pull out of the Forum. The Film Planning Committee and Youth Planning Committee followed, and the main Planning Committee decided to cancel the event just 9 days before it was to be held. Both the process and the call to cancel have resulted in a significant amount of criticism, but no formal process was undertaken to evaluate a nd move forward. The first US Social Forum is planned for June 27th – July 1st, 2007 in Atlanta, and some effort is being made to organize regionally for the Forum in the Northwest. This report has collected and organized online organizing documents, survey results and interviews around 10 main themes that emerged through the process: organization, decision-making, race, conflict, technology, funding, geography, time, cancellation, and thoughts for the future. Participants and readers are invited to contribute to a dialog around these themes and issues on the project’s website, hopefully contributing to the development of further Social Forum organizing.

Toft, A., Leuven, N. V., Bennett, W. L., Tomhave, J., Veden, M. L., Wells, C., Werbel, L. (2007). “Which way for the Northwest Social Forum?” Center for Communication and Civic Engagement white paper series, University of Washington. http://ccce.com.washington.edu/projects/assets/NWSFReport.pdf

(2007). Lead archivist, The Northwest Social Forum Archive. Center for Communication and Civic Engagement. http://ccce.com.washington.edu/projects/nwsf.html

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