The First U.S. Social Forum

On June 26th members of The Kitchen Table traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for the first ever US Social Forum. We facilitated a popular education workshop called TEACH OUR OWN: ACTIVISM THROUGH UNSCHOOLING. It was a great experience to share and learn about mainstream education and the resistance to it. More information about the workshop is available on this site. Here’s a little about the delegation we traveled with.

ANOTHER WAY OF DOING POLITICS
LIVING THE VISION FROM BELOW AND TO THE LEFT
a delegation of women of color, moms, kids, youth, and childcare volunteers
traveling together from NYC to the first ever United States Social Forum (USSF)
Atlanta, GA June 27 – July 1, 2007

WE ARE a community of organizations, cultural workers and individual activists committed to creating an intergenerational movement that is welcoming and accessible, prioritizes collectively-based work, integrates self-care, and builds on our cultures of resistance. Some of us are women, mothers or families of color, some of us are kids or people who play with kids, some of are queer, questioning, transgendered, gender non- conforming, gay, lesbian, or two spirit, some of us have been locked up or have family members inside, some of us have experienced police violence or interpersonal violence, some of us are poor or have limited access to resources, some of us are wealthy or have abundant access to resources. We contribute critical perspective, visions and practices of movement building that understand transforming entire communities and our inter- personal relationships as central to addressing the structural injustices facing us.

THE USSF, inspired by the World Social Forum, promises to be the first major gathering of grassroots movement building organizations in the country. Many times, individual paid professionals and “token” community members represent community organizations in larger strategic conversations, gatherings, and conferences. The USSF provides an important opportunity to change this dynamic. Instead of choosing a few individuals to travel by plane and rent out hotel rooms, we will use a comparable budget to enable a large group of mothers, children, youth, and childcare volunteers to attend the USSF. Ground transportation will enable more participants to attend, particularly immigrants and families with children.

THE JOURNEY ITSELF will embody our politics, fostering an intergenerational space of connection, sharing and caring for people from different communities in NYC. At the USSF, we hope to both learn from others and to share our own work. Some of the workshops that our groups are developing are around collective and non-hierarchical approaches to organizing, violence against women of color and transformative justice, alternatives to institutional schooling, solidarity work, and community-generated autonomous visions and practices. We also hope to learn and build relationships with other groups of young women, mothers, and immigrants.

UPON RETURNING TO NYC, we will produce a newsletter report-back about the USSF experience, and a popular education curriculum that builds upon the workshops we lead and participate in at the USSF. These materials will be bi-lingual (English-Spanish) and shared with NYC groups to use in-house in their leadership development work. We will also organize a city-wide gathering for reflection about lessons learned at the USSF, focusing on practices and strategies employed across the country that we could incorporate to strengthen our work.

OUR GROUPS INCLUDE

SISTERFIRE: a project of INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence. We are a network of NYC-based women of color invested in building a multigenerational movement to end violence against women of color in all its forms.

SISTA II SISTA: a Brooklyn-wide collective of poor and working-class young and adult
Black and Latina women building together to model a society based on liberation and love.

SISTAS ON THE RISE: a community organization based in the South Bronx stared by teen moms to develop leadership, promote political education, and fight for their rights of teen moms and all young women of color through community organizing.

REGENERACIÓN CHILDCARE NYC: a network volunteers who provide childcare to facilitate the participation of low-income mothers of color in building movements for collective liberation.

CENTER FOR IMMIGRANT FAMILIES: a collectively-run organization of low-income immigrant women of color in Manhattan Valley (Uptown NYC). Our stories and lived experiences are central to building a community that works towards social change and promotes justice, mutuality, love, trust, and dignity.

THE KITCHEN TABLE: an intergenerational parenting and education collective, with members in New York’s five boros and Atlanta, GA. By “teaching our own” we are building alternatives to oppressive systems of formal childcare and education for our families, our communities and ourselves.

PACHAMAMA: THE BUSHWICK CHILDCARE COOPERATIVE: Black and Latina mothers caring for each other and our children while organizing for collective liberation.

CRITICAL RESISTANCE YOUTH FREEDOM SCHOOL: connecting low-income mothers of color with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in order to build solidarity, develop organizing capacity against prisons, policing and jails, and imagine solutions to interpersonal harm.

COMMUNITY BIRTHING PROJECT: a collective of women of color working to support the empowerment of low income women in their birthing experiences, and to challenge practices of forced medicalization, unnecessary interventions and controlled decision making.

LIL’ MAROONS: a parent-run childcare cooperative operating from a child-led African- centered curriculum. In the spirit of maroon communities children and parents model the principles of independence, self-determination and cooperation with each other and the world.

HARM FREE ZONE: provides tools and trainings to local communities to strengthen and develop our ability to resolve conflicts without the need for the police, court system, or prison industry.

MOTHERS ON THE MOVE/ MADRES EN MOVIMIENTO: a grassroots, membership led community organization fighting together for social, economic and racial justice in the South Bronx and beyond.

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