Here in Philadelphia, Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) and Asian Americans United (the two Philadelphia anchor sites) have been busy organizing and planning for the US Social Forum! Below is an update of what we have been up to during the months of February and March.
February 1st: National Communications & Technology Meeting
During this meeting we had the opportunity to meet with Alfredo and Jackie who are part of the National Planning Committee of the USSF and the COMS/TECH Working group. We talked about how technology is a magnet for organizing massively across boundaries. A major focus will be skills transference, making sure that those within the Philadelphia community learn the necessary skills to become leaders within the communication and technology field. Our meeting was comprised of representatives from PPEHRC, PhillyCAM, Philly Net Square, American Friends Service Committee, May First, Huairou Commission, Openflows, as well as graduate students and local residents interested in Communications and Technology.
February 8th: USSF Meet & Greet
At the USSF Meet & Greet we had about 50 organization representatives who signed up for various local working groups in order to support the USSF. These working groups were: Communications & Technology, Outreach, Arts & Culture, and Fund Development. Some of the representatives included: PPEHRC, Asian Americans United, West Kensington Ministry, Neighborhood Networks, Decarcerate , The Green Party members, Students from University of Pennsylvania & Temple, Environmental Justice organizations, as well as concerned citizens. The meeting consisted of icebreakers, a video describing the USSF, testimonies from participants of past USSF’s, and small group discussions.
Some of the questions we discussed were:
1) What impact can the USSF have on Philadelphia?
2) How can the USSF help your local organization to build a different Philadelphia?
3) What are some concrete actions that we can do together leading up to the USSF & afterwards to build a more united Philadelphia region?
Everyone was very encouraged to see how many organizations came out to the meeting and how eager everyone was to collaborate with one another to help create a better Philadelphia and a better world!
March 6th: Local Communications & Technology Working Group Meeting
After the first COMS/TECH meeting, we began recruiting local residents and representatives from various organizations such as PPEHRC, Americans Friend Service Committee, Prometheus Radio Project, Media Mobilizing Project, and more to begin to mobilize an official Communications and Technology working group within Philadelphia. During this meeting we gave an introduction to the USSF as well as the Communications & Technology component of the USSF, brainstormed potential partnerships, and talked about the importance of bridging the digital divide, language justice, utilizing the wiki page, and skills transference.
March 8th: Philadelphia Local Organizing Committee (PLOC)
When it comes to organizing for the USSF we knew that it is essential to have a local organizing committee dedicated to the overall outreach and coordination of planning towards the USSF. In response to this we created a Philadelphia Local Organizing Committee (PLOC). During our first meeting, we had representatives from PPEHRC, Asian Americans United, ANSWER Coalition, Maypop Collective for Climate and Economic Justice, American Friends Service Committee, Beauty for Ashes, etc. During the meeting we discussed how our various organizations can benefit from the USSF, what we think the movement needs, the various local working groups we have created, People’s Movement Assemblies, what other people we could bring into the USSF and PLOC process, next steps we should take, as well as some upcoming events for us to support. Everyone was very excited about the USSF and were very forthcoming with ideas on how to make this the best USSF to date! Many were interested in uniting all the various organizational issues, creating mechanisms for communication and developing a network that creates movement building after the USSF to further continue its vision.
March 10th: Local Arts & Culture Working Group Meeting
Our very first local Arts & Culture Working Group meeting was comprised of representatives from PPEHRC, Folklore Project, Spiral Q Puppet Theater, Recovery Christian Center, and Harvey Finkle who is a local documentary photographer and photojournalist. The opening discussion explored the use of the terms ‘arts’ and ‘culture’ and what they mean to each individual and the collective group. It was agreed that the way we visualize art is to be an outlet for social change. As a group we decided it is our role to bring our collective 116 years of experience with Arts & Culture to the USSF and spearhead the successful transfer of issues related to social change and social justice in the forum to arts and culture workshops, exhibits, and performances.
Upcoming Meetings / Events:
Thursday, March 20th – Local COMS/TECH Working Group Meeting, West Kensington Ministry (2140 N. Hancock St. 19122) from 6-8pm.
Saturday, March 22nd – Philadelphia Local Organizing Committee (PLOC) Conference Call, 12pm.
Monday, March 24th – Arts & Culture Working Group Conference Call, 10am.
Saturday, April 5th – Philadelphia Local Organizing Committee (PLOC) Meeting, Liberty Resources (714 Market St #100) from 11am to 1pm.
Monday, April 7th – Arts & Culture Working Group Meeting, PPEHRC Office (174 W. Diamond St) at 10am
If you would like to be on a conference call, please contact us at PPEHRCorg@gmail.com for further information.
If you would like to get involved in the planning process of the USSF, specifically at the Philadelphia location, please contact us at:
Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign
Phone: (215) 869-4753 | Email: PPEHRCorg@gmail.com
Asian Americans United
Phone: (215) 925-1538 | email@example.com