What is a Social Forum?[edit | edit source]
"(Social forums) provide space to build relationships, learn from each other's experiences, share our analysis of the problems our communities face, and bring renewed insight and inspiration. (They) help develop leadership and develop consciousness, vision, and strategy."
Social forums are open meeting spaces. Groups representing a world of neighborhoods and causes meet through them, debate, and strategize. The forums are nongovernmental and nonpartisan. A social forum is basically what you make it — a meeting place, a debating forum, an exchange of ideas and solutions, a theater stage, a celebration, a festival, a bazaar — it can be any or all of these.
The World Social Forum was created to counter the influence and purposes of the World Economic Forum (Wikipedia), an annual meeting of top business and government leaders who get together every year "to shape global, regional and industry agendas."
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About 20,000 people attended the first World Social Forum in January 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The event, which has been held each year since then, drew 150,000 in 2005. The sixth WSF was held in three locations: Caracas, Venezuela; Bamako, Mali; and Karachi, Pakistan. The next WSF is being planned for Nairobi, Kenya in January 2007.
Regional social forums have followed in the footsteps of the WSF. Some are the European Social Forum, the Asian Social Forum, the Mediterranean Social Forum, and many local and national social forums. Most social forums adhere to the WSF Charter of Principles.
The first United States Social Forum, June 2007[edit | edit source]
A national United States Social Forum is being planned for Atlanta, Georgia in June 2007.
How can street medics be involved?[edit | edit source]
We have been invited by the Local Host Committee and the Health, Healing and Environmental Justice Leadership Team to provide medical coverage for the USSF and to provide street medic training before it begins. We will share responsibility for the health and safety of all participants in the social forum process. We expect anywhere between 20-30,000 activists, educators, organizers and citizens to attend, so this is quite a big job.
If you are interested to be involved as a participant, go to the website, register, and consider joining the Regional Committee for your area.
Pacific Islands Hawaii, Guam, & American Samoa
Caribbean Puerto Rico & Virgin Islands
Northwest WA, OR, ID
West CA, NV, UT
Rocky Mountain/Plains MT, WY, CO, NB, SD, ND, KS
Midwest/Great Lakes MN, WI, IL, MO, IN, OH, IA, MI
Northeast PA, NH, VT, CT, DE, NJ, NY, RI, MA, ME, MD, DC
Southwest AZ, NM, TX, OK
Southeast/Appalachia AR, LA, KY, TN, MS, AL, FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, WV
What regional focial forums have been held in North America?[edit | edit source]
Momentum is building in and around the US with several new forums starting up in 2006-07, including the first with a national focus.
- The Midwest Social Forum (Wikipedia) grew out of the Midwest Radical Scholars and Activists Conference in 1983. That annual event morphed into RadFest in the late 1990s and then took on the “social forum” name in 2003. The 2006 event was in July in Milwaukee.
- Chicago held its third annual forum in May 2006.
- London, Canada, held its second annual forum in June 2006.
- Houston, Texas started up a new forum in April 2006.
- The Southeast Social Forum (Wikipedia) was started in June 2006 in Durham, North Carolina.
- Maine is held a Social Forum in July 2006.
- The Border Social Forum (scroll down for English) was held October 2006 in Juárez, Mexico, across the border from El Paso, Texas.
- Boston (Wikipedia) held a forum in July 2004. A group is now planning a forum for Western Massachussetts.
- Los Angeles is planning a Social Forum for 2007.
- New York held social forums in November 2001, January 2003, and November 2004. Their NYCsocialForum.org site is down now, but there are some interesting pages still up that show some of their planning process (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4). The people behind it are not currently planning another local event, but are participating in the upcoming national event in Atlanta.
Notes[edit | edit source]
Most of this page is adapted from the Los Angeles Social Forumpage.