On February 16 2012, organizers from across the country came together for a call to reportback on decisions from USSF Planning Committee Meeting in Detroit, present new information or updates from PMA representatives, discuss what has made PMA effective, and outline the goals of the PMA Coordination Team Meeting on March 23-24. Check out the Highlights from the Call and view the complete minutes below. Click on the links next to each of the highlights listed below to get more detailed information about that section.
1. USSF PLANNING COMMITTEE MEETING IN DETROIT
At this meeting, the USSF National Planning Committee outlined that USSF will be developed as an ongoing social movement building process and Peoples Movement Assemblies will be used as an integrated vehicle. Click here for more.
2. NEW INFORMATION OR UPDATES FROM PMA REPRESENTATIVES:
Detroit: The Digital Justice Coalition, Food Justice Task Force and others are determining ways to create community media. Click here for more.
Assembly to end poverty: The Assembly to End Poverty is organizing the March on Washington June 30 2012. Organizers are currently adapting the PMA toolkit to make it specific to this organizing strategy and context. Click here for more.
Moveable Peace: A number of committees are working towards a global teach in on the new economy Click here for more.
World Social Forum: Coming out of this last NPC meeting, the USSF is endorsing Free Palestine as organized by international council for WSF; through this we are taking the lead from Palestinians. Click here for more.
Southwest Summer Drive: Ruben has been working with contacts across southwest to lead towards a summer drive to connect and hold assemblies focused on connecting across the border.
Southern Movement Alliance: Eight organizations in the South have will be working towards a Southern Movement Assembly before the election, to build up force between local action sites and build toward the peoples first 100 days after the election to keep up motion and not have the elections drain us.
Queer Liberation PMA: The Queer Liberation PMA was held on January 28 in Baltimore at the Creating Change conference. Over 100 people attended this 3-hour PMA. SONG and Project South organized the PMA and the multi-racial, intergenerational 12-person facilitation team represented many organizations. Click here for more.
3. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What has made the PMA effective? What needs to happen around the PMAs given the backdrop of the 2012 elections? This discussion examined what is making PMA effective, the fronts of struggle, the relationship between Occupy and other social movements, and the elections. Click here for more.
4. GOALS OF PMA COORDINATION TEAM MEETING (March 23-24)
Steph outlined the meeting schedule and other informational points and people offered other suggestions for the goals of the meeting. Click here for more.
Peoples Movement Assembly Coordination Call Complete Minutes
UPDATE FROM USSF MEETING: (Steph, Sylvia, and Sara)
This meeting in January included deep political conversation about strategy given where we are and what is at stake. We also outlined that the USSF organizing process will not be from one conference to next, but will be a social movement building process and Peoples Movement Assemblies will be used as an integrated vehicle. The strategy for 2012 includes using assemblies on local, regional, and thematic levels to build towards regional forums in 2013 and USSF III in 2014.
• There was a major agreement that USSF needs to continue to evolve to both reflect grassroots movements in this country and be connected to global struggles.
• NPC is seeing itself as an organizing committee, which will also focus on site-based anchor work. Teams are moving forward to put together an organizing plan to reflect that. These teams are taking the work further; they are putting together a timeline and calendar to get the work done.
• The summary from this meeting was recently sent out. A more comprehensive, more detailed proposal will go out in the next two weeks to current NPC members and other ongoing and emerging movements. It will outline themes for people to give input.
Some PMA Background
The PMAs were used as a way to build before, during, and after USSF II. And we feel that the “After” part of the process has now come to completion. Throughout 2011, we continued to build the process and to build deep synthesis and held an in-depth interview process. We held a National Strategy Session in February 2011. We participated in the World Social Forum and saw the ways that PMA is distinctive and the ways to connect PMA to other processes in motion globally. We were able to connect a little to Occupy movement and draw some
connections and pass along the organizing kit, which reflects both the political and methodological process. We hope to continue that dialogue with Occupy. Now, we are in a new strategy, which we see as organizing before, during and after these major elections. PMA calls to question questions of governance: community governance and plans. There is currently much opportunity and much to explore. We see this as major turning point for the PMA process.
DETROIT (Diana Copeland, EMEAC): The Digital Justice Coalition, Food Justice Task Force and others are determining ways to create community media: looking at doing live tweeting with the Food Security Assembly and Youth Assembly. They are also exploring what would community journalism look like to get more information to others who can’t attend and report back to get new folks involved in process.
ASSEMBLY TO END POVERTY (Rose and Sylvia):
A planning meeting was held in D.C. January 20-22 2012. The PMA process was explained, which has given our organizing work a boost. The education committee, which is a subcommittee that includes PMA folk, is now in motion. We are taking the organizing kit and tailoring it to communities that are doing anti-poverty work. This will include inserting context: how have we come to such poverty in USA and globally, and what are people doing about it? We will be doing a pilot project, starting with a few communities, to make sure that we are communicating well and really understanding how we are trying to organize this. We will also be revisiting the internal structure and committee processes that will help support this work.
MOVEABLE PEACE (Alan):
We had a meeting a month ago to determine where we have become established across the state. There are number of different committees; we are focusing on developing a global teach-in on the new economy and trying to see that in as many places as possible. The Movement for a Democratic Society is pulling together the development of a manifesto for now in Michigan in June, which may be formed as a PMA.
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM (Sara):
Coming out of this last NPC meeting, the USSF is endorsing Free Palestine as organized by international council for WSF; through this we are taking the lead from Palestinians. An adhoc committee of USSF NPC members and other organizations are going to be organizing a delegation, intended to be cross movement, in November, in preparation for the following August/September. It will be a PMA that looks at what are the real popular uprisings in Palestine and in the US: what are the demands that need to be covered (i.e. who builds prisons and trains police, US funding of police repression) to build agenda for USSF that sees interaction and looks at ways that this relates to other regional assemblies in 2013 or builds that into thematic forum.
SOUTHWEST SUMMER DRIVE (Steph):
Ruben has been working with contacts across southwest to lead towards a summer drive to connect and hold assemblies focused on connecting across the border.
SOUTHERN MOVEMENT ALLIANCE (Steph):
Eight organizations in the South have will be working towards a Southern Movement Assembly before the election, to build up force between local action sites and build toward the peoples first 100 days after the election to keep up motion and not have the elections drain us.
QUEER LIBERATION PMA (Steph): The Queer Liberation PMA was held on January 28 in Baltimore at the Creating Change conference. Over 100 people attended this 3-hour PMA. SONG and Project South organized the PMA and the multi-racial, intergenerational 12-person facilitation team represented many organizations. Additional people present played specific roles and assisted in creating a culture of dynamism; there were greeters, who oriented people to the space. People got into groups around the fronts of struggle to look specifically at how queer liberation advances those fronts. There was great focus on challenging the idea that single issues and campaigns are going to be enough, that race, economy, land all need to be held and recognized. We learned that (1) PMAs need to be at least 4 hours in length, to get to the action and strategy steps; (2) The content is highly political and that needs to be put out in front. We didn’t ask for agreement about key political understandings (some examples: This is not a neutral space: assemblies are about advancing all peoples liberation; Wining single issues is not enough; A queer politic can help build stronger and more transformative strategies.)
We are currently doing a deep synthesis process. We are exploring questions about method, how we moved through the process. We are going to be putting together a comprehensive statement outlining: How do we continue to develop synthesis processes that are participative and offer spaces for entry beyond the assembly, but is also continuing to build strong forward momentum? Through this process, we continue to evolve the question: what is a PMA and what makes something an assembly?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What has made the PMA effective? What needs to happen around the PMAs given the backdrop of the 2012 elections?
What is coming out of the assemblies in regards what is making PMA effective?
(Rose) I’m really excited to hear these report-backs. It sounds like many important lessons are embedded in these
experiences. So much of what you reached (large number of people, exploring the different entry points, how do you do a synthesize, putting deep political issues up front) seem to be exactly what the Assembly to End Poverty needs to move forward. I’m really looking forward to seeing the synthesis that will come out of the Queer Liberation PMA.
(Rita) Out of a recent Healthcare assembly, two main points arose: (1) the importance of not getting derailed with election and (2) that the context (i.e. of health care) will still be the same after the election. Also, we are increasingly seeing the intersections with other movements that are developing.
(Ruben) One of the things that came out of the Latino PMA in Portland was that people were able to come together on regional platform as far as issues that affect Latinos. The PMA enabled them to come together as a whole and come out with platform about all those different issues as well as to organize smaller PMA in different cities on northwest, to replicated PMA at home.
In relation to fronts of struggle
(Steph) The fronts of struggle emerged from USSF II through strategy meetings. We have continued to hone them, and they have been presented as eight. We can send the mapping that we have done if that is helpful. It’s definitely moved away from issues and on to fronts. People have been shifting their thinking, from single issue/identify and even intersectional to bring all that together to see the ways that all these struggles are part of the same capitalist, colonial project. The fronts are the sites where power is contested. It has been working so far to look at them this way. We could look at that further in March.
In relation to Occupy and other social movements
(Alan) Sharing the facilitation models connected to PMA with Occupy could be very helpful.
(Sylvia) I am thinking about the conversations that PMA have had with Occupy about using the organizing kit, I know that there are other communities curious about using this tool. Has PMA developed strategy in terms of how to share the kit? The kit can be useful tool to have conversations with others, since it’s a good tool.
(Ruben) There are two conversations going on. The regional social forums and PMAs have organically assimilated the toolkit and translated it to specific local issues. They have utilized it in different ways. Each PMA has been a little different. What is in common is that facilitation is about being all-inclusive and there is a synthesis process. In these contexts the kit itself has been growing and the numbers of assemblies using the kit is growing. In the context of occupy, it was more of a reaching out to explore to what extent they would assimilate toolkit to use in the general assemblies. It was not necessarily embraced as a process. They are working through the internal issues that they have in terms of the facilitation.
(Steph) We are at cross roads in terms of really thinking about how to get out the kit further. It is not really about convincing others to do assembly, but seeing it as an organizing vehicle that can grow and expand movements and assist in the process of trying to get strategic.
In relation to elections
(Dan) Has there been any direct discussion about how social movements should interact directly with the elections? Or are we just going to ignore it? I’d like to have that conversation. The occupy movement seems to be reformulating. There is an occupy gathering in Olympia on February 18th and 19th
(Ruben) We need to measure what has been the impact of the administration over the past 3+ yrs. What are the things that we are clearly against even if we vote for Obama? What we are against and for? This needs much more work in terms of making it a national or regional forum. What are we going to be doing to pressure the admin on specific items? That needs a lot of discussion.
(Steph) There have been having conversations with Kali, who is connected to USSF and PMA, thinking about using space in March to develop principles/practices of how to continue to build movement in an election year, how to strategically exploit conversations about governance whether in local battles or in regards to keeping people out of process.
This meeting will be an assembly of representative, people that are actively organizing PMAs in 2012, to help us think through key questions, such as: (1) Method and facilitation of PMAs; (2) Political framing; (3) How to build on strategy;
(4) The next steps to anchor the different PMAs so that we are moving as a whole; (4) Ways to connect with all of the different assembly processes in motion (including Occupy forces) this year.
Brief overview of schedule:
FRIDAY: afternoon roundtable session to explore: what makes something a PMA? How have we evolved that? What are the political assumptions? What is the analysis building and synthesis processes?
SATURDAY (all day): talk through strategies in all PMA sites. Mapping out the other forces that could use this process and explore what is it that we are building inside of this year? What are the instruments or pressure points that we can create to become a catalyst moving into 2013?
We will also determine what kind of teams are needed (i.e. communication strategy, organization and facilitation support) and land what they could be doing over this year and focus on how to integrate into WSF and USSF.
Other suggestions for goals of the March meeting
(Alan) Discuss how what we are doing is connecting to what else it going on. We need to develop our overall position of all movements to pose ourselves as an independent political force that the administration sees as opposition.
(Dan) Discussion about how Occupy movement shifted the national focus to 1%, when USSF and PMA didn’t do that. What is forum process going to do in relation to that or in regards to self-criticism?
Sarah outlines that we are in the process of getting out a proposal about a consultation process about how to connect to people involved in other movements, Occupy and others. Part of the reorientation needs be, and was, what kind of vehicle can organizing the social forum be for social movements? How does the social forum really serve social movements, not just organizations?
(Diana) Examine the roles that organizations could hold, such as different type of logistic roles.
Steph responds: We will be discussing what roles people/organizations can hold.
(Ruben) At the March meeting, we wanted to discuss: (1) What is sum total of the impact of PMA? (2) What has been impact of Occupy movement? The focus should be on PMA, not Occupy, but is there a possible connection between them? (3) What is the balance of Obama administration in the political moment where we are at?
Other informational points about meeting
(Steph) We will craft a call for March to pull out the thinking and build towards effective meeting in March. We will send out the online registration forms for folks interested in coming, folks who are aligned with the process, bringing organizational capacity and resources. There is a little bit of money, through USSF process, that we can put toward stipends. We are looking forward to to having a productive political conversation and strategy session and planning.