Coalitions Conference
10/5 (Thanks to Corinne Ogrodnick for drafting these notes during the meeting)

Thinking about new ways of building coalitions
We are making the path as we walk
Theorizing how groups operate and change
GOALS:
Synthesis of the knowledge about coalition work in this political moment
Paths and new ways of working together that can restructure ways of working together between activists/social movements and academia

Why the US and World Social Forum as a focus?
Boundaries and clarity for conference needed
Empirical practice associated with process
World-system level of analysis that SF brings to process
Reflexivity
Demonstrates attention to culture and relationships other movements do not do as explicitly
Is this form the right one for doing relationship building?

Key points during introductions:
Jerome – how can we build the USSF into a global movement?
What makes the WSF useful in relation to social movement building?
What do we do today that other processes are not?

Walda – finds deeps contradictions between movement and theorizing that is happening within the academy
Need to document needs and communication of process of movement building

Cindy – sees need to build coalitions between grassroots orgs and activists and USSF activists
Absence in documentation of our stories, invisible labor that occurred “convergence is great, but what are the outcomes?”
How do we tell that narrative?
What does it take to do movement building?
What makes WSF process useful for movement building, and what are limits of WSF?

Nella – conditions are ripe for cross-movement coalition building
What are the other spaces that offer opportunities for coalition building?

Assata – I don’t think of coalitions, I think of collaboration
Need to think about how things work on the ground?

Skills sharing and bridge building

Rose – a new political moment

How do we create/support communities that support/sustain organizing work?

Roger – how are corporations shaping us into what they want us to be
What can academics do to support movements?
Politicizing campus as a site of struggle

Valentine – natural movement between labor movement and women’s movement
Three worlds – activist, academy, and the UN system
Opportunities in North Africa in particular for movement and coalition building

Jeff- telling stories is the first step of movement building
Listening as a practice
“Observant participation” and “militant ethnography” in movements
Collaborative Research
Tracing
Facilitating links

Alice – precarious workers
Precarious knowledge – methodology of research of co-research: the production of knowledge to create conflict
Creating knowledge for struggle

Mary Margaret – “Embodied Activism” tools to help activists remain healthy and to create healthy organizing spaces

Nicole Doerr – how do stories constrain us? The impact of wounding
Need to discuss moments of consciousness – the way moments of consciousness broaden and create new subjectivities – SF as process to facilitate moments of consciousness
The classroom as an extended social forum

What new subjectivities can advance movement building?

Sylvia – the toll that activism takes on activists
How do activists bridge cultural differences? Intergenerational differences?
What are good practices for time management for activists to be active and to reflect and document work and processes?
What are the ways to do public archiving of movement processes?

Carl – how do we create new organizational forms to move forward?
Difficult to connect even to the next neighborhood, let alone to the global struggles
New Voices a new initiative in Pittsburgh that should be modeled upon
We are all in different places in our mind, how do we bridge those differences?

Bonnie – community benefits agreements
Academics tend to come in neighborhoods and “tell”, we need to come in and listen at the feet of people on the ground
We need to document what people have done and what their world view is and how this can translate into everyday work and movement building?

Jackie – how to organize in the academy differently? WSF is one of biggest political transformations of our time
Feel like a missionary in sociologist circles trying to convince others that WSF is an important opportunity
How do you study the WSF?
Collaborative research needed to study WSF
Tracing needed
Observant participation is a good practice
We are rethinking some of the models and organizing forms
How do you measure impact of movements? By what criteria do we measure it?
Are the tools adequate to the moment, particularly of the WSF?
Assata – community based research – how to build collaboration in genuine ways
How do we show that we are doing things together – co-research?

Session One: Goals andPolitical moments
Principles of scholar movement collaboration
Aims
Practices
Models

Clarify movements and alliances? Movements? Principles?
Use the WSF as a case study to process the process of the conference
What are the patterns of convergence that we are seeing in the US?
How do we build on what’s already worked?
How do we work from principles that have already been established amongst work of participants at conference?

Agreement to use WSF/USSF as forum/framework
Detroit and Atlanta USSF – what worked?

Analysis: Political Moment
Cindy - GDJ holds space of sheparding the social forum process within the alliance bit also at international council level
1. Debates around future of WSF process
“Another world is possible” a galvanizing slogan
Most significant contribution has been the creation of relationships and alliances
2. Is WSF the overarching tent, or just a forum for other processes and efforts?
There is very different culture of folks at WSF/Intl Council/NPC
Different bodies and different decisions that were made that led to the emergence of certain decisions and leadership within both groups
How does SF process relate to emerging movements?
Revive the WF process to a new process – emerging movements add to the complexity of process, particularly at the intl level
How to interact and engage with the emerging movements (i.e. Occupy)
Careful engagements are happening at the global level
WSF useful for building and strengthening relationships around grassroots sector
What are all the things that formed as a result in different areas, etc?
How can we utilize these new orgs and groups formed that used the WSF as a platform?
Folks went back to Detroit to form a global climate justice alliance – formed out of USSF
Increased a dynamic and diverse character – “it was the best of the left”
Engaged with international allies in new ways – had an intl committee to make bridge from USSF and WSF, tangible in materials
Have to be able to talk about the US is an intl context need intl link
How do you we use the forum as a process, not just for coming and going
People did intentional bldg along the way to USSF that have created enduring alliances
What was not accomplished at USSF:
Thematic tracks disconnected from each other
There were more issue specific sessions
Tension between own issues and broad USSF focus
Did not reach broadly enough between Atlanta and Detroit, and to other folks
Intention of who should be at USSF, missed other groups and people to connect with – broader unity needed
Under-resourced orgs over-tasked, thus we did not figure out what was next
What happens next? Whose job is it to coordinate next steps?
We have not figured it out globally
Serious questions about another SF. Re-groupment questions and processes
99% movement beginning to take up a lot of political space
How do we build the left in the US
The USSF is a forum and a tool that groups have used, but the permanence of it questioned
What kind of national convergence is most needed at this moment?
We need a strategic outcome – we need clear strategies around the war, the economy, climate change
Is the SF the tool to do that?
Tunisia is going to be the make it or break of the SF
IC trying to figure it out
Random membership on IC
Reinvention of IC needed – Tunisia is the lifeline for it
Tunisia is a revolution in process

Invested in a translocal process – it has to be grounded – the consciousness is where the work is needed – it has to have a global dimension – we have to be able to understand the global and systemic issues, but ground them in practice
Occupy movement – serious questions about moving forward – what is to be done?

Bonnie – bread and butter? How does all this translate to all this to people on the ground?
Delivery helps shape consciousness? “You gave me bread and butter, now I understand…”
Oya – Detroit – went around to involve brothers and sisters on the ground – “how do we survive this?” this is a beautiful process, but how do we survive?
We had to sell it to them
It challenged us to go beyond our egos and immediate goals and needs that it was connected to larger community
Had a work brigade
You are not coming to Detroit to save us, you are coming to work with us
Had to move beyond titles and money
Had to figure out ways to change the circumstances –
Putting people in homes
Deal with corrupt govt
Collaborations that have come out of it have been enduring
Had to build trust, had to learn how to work together
Loose titles, How do we love each other?
Needed to lose hierarchy to build trust amongst people involved in process
Bonnie – articulate here’s where the SF come’s, here’s what it leaves
Oya – had to educate community about what working together looks like
How do we go beyond our oppression that’s been internalized and how do we challenge it?

Jackie –
WSF process as a tool
Strengthening ties local and global, and across communities in US
Took a global process to get US based processes involved with one another
New politics of values and consciousnesses
Practices – intentionality, translation, socialization

Rose – an absence of certain sectors
How does the intelligentsia play a role in SF process? What is appropriate?
Been difficult to make connections between intelligentsia and people on the ground
Who was there and who wasn’t??
Need to hold onto intentionality piece – who is at the forefront? Who is in the leadership?
We need to think about different social locations – what about people who don’t have a place to stay when they come to the SF? Need to be conscious about privilege in leadership in movement?

Walda – yes
We need to see that are all in the movement together
It is a systemic movement
The system is oppressing us all in different ways
We are all in the same movement – we need to get people to realize that, and then come up with a division of labor based on our different resources. We have not done that yet
This speaks to the moment of crisis
Jackie - Strategic use of privilege

Jerome – what’s lost in the discussion of relationship between scholars and activists is history
History – people involved in revolutionary processes at all levels in history
Need to remember role of McCartyism that sought to break relationship between intellectuals and activists
Transformative movement at its very core is an intellectual movement – need the intellectual and conceptual understandings of movements and where we are trying to go
Where do the ideals come from? What are they?
Valentine – from the ruling class?
Notion of anti-intellectualism in the movement did not happen by accident. Part of a strategic process by ruling classes
Not a relationship between individuals and sectors – it is history
SF process taking place within a world environment – need to look at history of context in which WSF happened?
What did the fronts of struggle look like at different times? E.g. economic crisis
Make sure to look at what is happening in our environment to be able to build our response and movements
How do we bring consciousness to the spontaneity of the responses to the environment? How do we examine the moment to create the consciousness?
Important to look at recent experiences, i.e. what happened in North Africa?
We question need for political organization
Need to look at the current motions – what has come from them?
What had ability to move forward to create govt from the movements?
We NEED to build a relationship between activists and scholars to create a transformative society
Jackie - Space for unity – shared revolution amid diversity
Nella – Right has major financial resources for their project, but also have engaged in a major effort to try to change people’s consciousness about how to thin about govt and people’s rights
Have used Tea Party as vehicle for this message
They have provided the Tea Party with resources – i.e. organizing resources etc
The left is up against insane amounts of resources in this movement
Sami – has WSF utilized platform for building a political party?
Assata – need a model/structure that points me to how I am dealing with other people
Capacity – need to understand of groups and people that get involved
Compassionate communication – assessing needs of groups that I work with so that people that I work with get their needs met first, before I state my needs
What are the mechanisms of our collaboration?
Janet – observing the global process
Has been successful for the highly organized
Question about the relationship between SF process and survival processes on the ground – untold and understudied
SF been a failure – the subaltern movements – movements of poor marginalized people
Movements of disenfranchised people have had a hard time connecting with SF process
The movement is bigger than the campaigns – to what extent can we talk about building a single movement?
Movement potentiality is uneven across the world – question toward building one movement? Is this push towards something against the state? This is an unresolved question
SF insistence on plurality of movements
Tension between indigenous people and other movements is the statist levels of the movements
Carl – we need to organize so control the land that where we live, need to do this by voting blocks
Need to control the space where we live – electoral politics not for the sake of electoral politics, but to have accountability and control over spaces where we live to eventually deal with opportunities that come
Need to start in our neighborhoods – this connects to the survival issues
We need to adopt a new organizational form that will be a new political organization to control the land where we live
We need to take over precincts
Its an organizational thing, not an issue thing
We are fighting organizations such as the democratic party that gives away things to the Penguins downtown, etc
Need to develop assemblies
We need to liberate areas where the people are and then liberate issues from there

Political Culture Group
A politics that recognizes the dynamics of culture
Need to understand the difference in the power distribution
Power based on historical position
Recognition of where we all came from – social structure
Coalition – how much facilitation and intervention is appropriate?
People involved need to always have a conversation of political differences
But if start to raise concerns about differences and unifying positions, may undermine long term coalition
Need to have a conversation about political purpose (in short and long term)
Need to have a conversation and recognition about capacity of coalition
Need to evaluate the benefit working together – but it is a tradeoff
Often the way we operate is of the dominant model without recognizing it – how do we bring into the space other ways of engaging
Vision and strategy – how do we move forward?
Is coalition the right way to think about working together in context of WSF? Is it more of a stable network?
Culture as a circulation of ideas and discourses
Key frames provide something for people to mobilize around
Need to check your capacity to build trust
We never identified an ongoing process to resolve issues and tensions in SF process – need to establish a process to do this
Compassionate communication – based on making a connection with people about things that are important to them, it is a language to communicate, it acknowledges needs
A conflict resolution aspect to it
Helps resolve some conflicts b/c creates a level of respect
At the end of the day it is about a connection, creates a mindfulness
At the organizational level – what are the organizations needs and requests
State needs and not necessarily with the expectation that everything will be met, but offers a model to move forward
Periods of downswing in movements – need to have a dialogue between organizations to state needs and disappointments with working with other orgs to avoid shit talk of one another
Political culture
What are we up against?
Economic, political and cultural aspects
How do we get an alternative vision communicated to people?
Need to reveal how our everyday practices bridge our different subjectivities
Need to have success stories and stories of hope in process, need to have victories
Show people they can impact the destiny of their block so they can feel the potentiality of making change on a larger level
Breaking isolation is a powerful tool
Importance of recognizing that coalition building is a multi-scalar activity
Coalitions need to do a real political assessment
Important part of everyday work of activists is cultural work

Oya – want to talk about the realities of documenting the USSF, and the resources and burn-out that occured

Cindy - There are things that happened with the USSF that needs to get lifted and told in the moment of questioning next SF. Things that happened pre-Occupy that were good that need to be revisited.
This is an opportunity to connect with what should happen at the next forums – have some create takeaways
How do we talk about movement building back at the academy?

Walda – what pieces if what we have talked about and identified could be used to build coalitions moving forward? Particularly for the SF? Concrete commitments.

Janet – for the USSF organizers, what kinds of concrete pieces are you looking for? Wants a focused conversation, not a vague conversation

Jerome – it is important not to over-commit concretely in walking away from this conference. What are our capacities? Tell us what you (academics) can offer us (organizers) with your capacities?




Discussion 10/6
Agenda:
Overall goal – offer an opportunity for scholars and students to plug into and support activists and movements
Offer ideas for creating networks and building onto the networks
Discuss NPC needs and ideas

Documentation and evaluation of SF process important
Different pieces of WSF and USSF documentation and reporting on wiki page that offer models for more work on the topic
On wiki page – summary and reports of students’ writing about engaging gin USSF
Assata - How do we translate academic writing into a more accessible language so that a broad audience will be interested in reading it?
Sylvia – It is not necessarily that academic writing is inaccessible activists, but that we do not have time to read it. Intros and conclusions, and even more so oral reports are the most useful
Rose – it is necessary to think through how we can do joint writing projects with folks on the ground – Book with an example – Playing with Fire
Mary Margaret – Masters in Social and Cultural Pedagogy in the School of Social Transformation – maybe students in that program may be interested in analyzing SF data
Communication – Journalism and Research
Writer’s network on list serve – 200 people – Jackie offered ideas about how to connect SF with current events. Offers ideas about how to bring about SF into popular venues and forums
USSF newspaper
May First web link - works on how to keep the info accessible and autonomous
Film on Detroit – We are not Ghosts
Need help with writing for USSF/SF newsletter stories
Students can write reports for it, etc
Sending student delegates to USSF
International conversation about scholar activism in 2005 (INoSA)
- Support civil society
- Expand access to knowledge and information
- Resist neoliberlism on campus
Sociologists without Borders
Valentine – INoSA and Sociologists w/o Borders can make a difference with access to knowledge
Alice – open access journals; already there in the natural sciences, not a trend in social sciences, yet; certain publishers heading towards open access – creative commons liscences
Nicole – need to think about connecting with professionalized journalists
Sylvia – professional media comes in with demands that activists can’t usually meet
INoSA – use as a discussion document

NPC needs and priorities
Documentation of movement and successes and lessons learned – short and long-term
Impact on the anchor and local organizing committee in both Detroit and Atlanta
Archiving documents and papers for movement building (radical reference network) Multimedia archive
Video documentation of both Detroit and Atlanta – help needed
Need to document movement’s story of WSF as a movement tool and process
- Need to talk with organizations that brought lots of people to USSF
- snowball sampling
- linkages to Occupy – some elements of Occupy movement had connection to SF
Need to document the on the ground process of transformative moments
Identify collective of folks going to Free Palestine and ask them to document experience and process

Outcomes of documentation
Lessons learned – long term process and serious analysis; a movement tool for other groups to use for movement building; substantive piece (6 mo)
Part of the work is also conceptual – what do we mean by social movement outcomes? Thinking about movement infrastructure and building – how do we thing about think about conceptualizing this? How do we frame the stories, and particularly to make it attractive to funders.
How do we get folks at the table who are not there yet? How do you tell the story in a way that makes the story appealing to those folks?
Angles of stories – examine the caravans; use the city perspective; obstacles and successes of particular caravans; some documentation that has been done on this; Jackie has documented some of this; the book has a lot in it, too
Need an analysis of data as well as data collection
Lack of funding in process – a lack of trust on behalf of funders; after Atlanta won over some funders, but not enough
Intentionality throughout the whole process makes it more challenging and different
Funders – lifeline funders – funders are impatient and don’t understand the importance of convergence; we need to claim our successes
What outcomes would attract funders? Policy outcomes, success stories
Need to demonstrate the standards we have about organizing
What do folks in the process see as outcomes?? And how can scholars connect to that kind of evaluation?
Occupy Philanthropy

Need to operationalize outcomes
Working groups:
  1. Need to trace outcomes of forum for funders (short term) and outreach strategy (long term)
  2. Research and writing piece – telling the movement story
  3. Documenting the process of the Palestine delegation to Tunis


Long-term research, analysis and documentation
Need to document how the SF actually got to the US – story should start a few years before it got to Atlanta
- GGJ Grassroots Global Justice and Economic Human Rights Campaign are two groups
DLOC did a lot of work with anchor groups
Anchors are the ones who bid to have the forum
- Atlanta – Project South
- Detroit multiple
NPC – had to be multiple committees to make sure it happened, to ensure the process was carried through so that the national apparatus could work through the local groups
Organizing committees included anchors
DLOC
EMEAC East Michigan Env Council, Centro Abrerro, Jobs for Justice, MWRO Michigan Welfare Rights (need to document intentions and actual experiences with working with these groups)
How to build relationships to work together more effectively

Important to show “That it actually happened”:
DLOC did a lot of work with building relationships City Council, Police Dept
Built a ton of relationships and coalitions amongst different types of groups
Problems:
Building relationships of trust
Question: how honest do activists want scholars to be?
Takes a lot of collaboration with activists to document problems
Need to document some of the issues for resources so that movements in future do not make the same mistakes
Scholars have only recently incorporated emotion into the paradigm – a challenge for scholars to have a more nuanced way of doing research to incorporate emotions and feelings into analysis
Co-research necessary to agree upon writing and publication – need an agreement set at the beginning
Need to make movement need distinct from scholar need for research, analysis and publication – research geared for movement needs
Important to set on the table two needs – that of scholars and that of the movement
We need a methodology to divide between internal research and documentation and external publication
- community based research where community members are a whole part of process

Research team and interests:
Assata will look at the way in which we are going to create the knowledge and data for telling the story; the tools we are going to use (i.e. the methodology)
There should be a statement of purpose for methodology
Need to identity people and networks to help facilitate the research
Bonnie would like to go to Detroit and document stuff on the ground
Teams in each city to compare and contrast
- Core cases- Focus on Detroit and Atlanta, and Chicago b/c of special connection to Detroit
- Talk about processes leading up to Forum and then impact and aftermath
- Focus on anchors and local committees in D and A
  • Compare difference between one anchor in Atlanta and multiple in Detroit
- Focus on other cities b/c of connections and relationships built

Nicole wants to work on long term project to healing processes and interventions, applied research

Timeline:
Split the long and short term

Research areas and Storytelling
  1. Process (organizing and funding)
  2. Experiences of people (organizational, people who attended)
  3. Outcomes
How as it before and after the forum? This could offer systematic analysis
Dynamics and conditions of USSF locations before and after forum – transformation of place? How was place changed by the forum? We change people and we change places…
Story of the funding – not just foundation funding, but also how the process raised other sources of funding

Research teams/topic areas for long term project
Detroit + Chicago
Atlanta
- PMA process (After story?)
Caravan stories
Story before the USSF
Next forum
Other spill over projects

Identity who the “we” is; how did this create new names and overcome some of the typical boundaries
Identify was data is available and what is needed to collect and then how to analyze the data
Need to think about funding for long-term project

Tracing group:
Hillary has the notes

Upcoming WSF group:
Wiki page as a community organizing resource
- Links to background on Tunis
Writing articles with wide circulation – collaborate for article on Free Palestine
- circulate with groups that went to Detroit
Follow-up
Need student reporters


Closing discussion and commitments
Sylvia – connect with same networks
Rose – Heading to do research in Chicago with Oya
Bonnie – wants to research what happened on ground in Detroit, will connect with Oya
Leslie – Interface; teaching class on social movements in Spring
Jeff – wants to continue working in a forum like this
Cindy – appreciated connecting with scholars to do future work together on WSF
Nicole – appreciated the connection between scholars and activists for “quick and dirty work”
Suzanne – will try to connect students to needed research
Mary Margaret – building coalitions within the university in Arizona
Assata - appreciated this as a foundation for building a community based research center
Walda – this has been a good space to reinvigorate activist side, wants to continue breaking through the doors of connecting activist and scholarly work
Janet – will be part of the quick and dirty work, and looks forward to think about long term projects
Valentine – will write about experience here and share with Global Women’s Studies Women’s Research network, as well as colleagues doing international work; will work with work-studies and will connect with course teaching next semester in senior capstone; will work with Rose on ASA 2013; Rose and Walda on paper in Tunis; will share with colleagues in Japan
Hillary – will be thinking about how to make connections with own research
Jerome – looks forward to supporting process when research actually happens
Oya – this has been a healing process “how is this vision contributing to our people”