For those of you who don’t know, Detroit, MI is the capital of the economic crisis as far as industry is concerned. The fall of the auto companies based out of what is widely known as “Motor City” has had a catastrophic effect on the community, leaving many homes abandoned as Detroit’s employment rate continues to fall.
However dire the situation may seem, there is a momentum brewing in Detroit that is lighting fires for social change around the nation and globe. The focus of efforts to deal with these issues, in the minds of the community organizers, starts locally first. By building back the local economy from the ground-up, the people of Detroit are setting the example for the rest of the nation. This is why we now refer to Motown as Solution City – the place where we fix the problems of today and build the foundation for the world of tomorrow.
AMC is an annual event produced by Allied Media Projects in collaboration with social justice organizations around the world. The organizers believe in educating grassroots orgs about innovative uses of current technologies to create powerful media for implementing social change. The conference was created to share these media-based organizing models for movement building.
USSF is an extension of the World Social Forum, which first took place in Brazil in 2001. Now a global series of simultaneous social forums, these gatherings exist to stimulate dialogues between communities around the world facing the same hardships. These conversations aim for alternative solutions to global issues than the decisions being made by world governments. This de-centralized, non-partisan, alliance building forum lays the ground work for a “more solidarity, democratic and fair world.”
Organizations throughout the country are already orchestrating caravans to Detroit, plotting multiple stops along the way to unite with other traveling groups. Southwest Workers Union (SWU) of San Antonio, TX leads the local effort in communicating with a number of regional orgs in preparation for their second trip to the US Social Forum as part of the People’s Freedom Caravan.
SWU organizers have been instrumental in the forum’s planning process since the first WSF in 2001 and continue to be one of the nation’s anchors since it took shape in the US. On their first trip to the USSF at Atlanta, GA in 2007, the caravans took reps from 80 organizations. This year, organizers are projecting that more than 100 organizations will be uniting under the People’s Freedom Caravan to be a part of the gathering. Also, to the delight and at the urging of members of the last caravan, this year’smeetups along the plotted cities will allow for some organized mingling between buses.
Borrowing organizing models from the civil rights movement of the 60′s, SWU has established a network with strongholds in Albuquerque,NM and Jackson,MS forming the SXSW Experiment (which has nothing to do with Austin’s music festival). For the last two years, the cities have been sharing histories and organizing strategies via workshops in a rotating series of conferences. Now, with USSF around the corner, SWU and company are rallying community members and orgs to grab a seat on their bus.
“We’re making stops in Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Louisville, Chicago, and finally in Toledo where all the caravans have agreed as the meeting point before we all head into Detroit,” said Diana Lopez (SWU) about San Antonio’s bus route to the forum. She went on to tell me that there is a group of people bicycling from Cali and a troupe of people marching from Georgia all in the name of change.
Detroit and my memories from last year’s conference made an impact that still swells like a flame of inspiration. My band brothers and I, in part with Local 782, plan on heading out before theSWU caravan to attend AMC, and, if Detroit grants us extended hospitality, we will enjoy the USSF as well. I hope to meet many of you there.