Today at the U.S. Social Forum

My friend Natalie Holbrook attended the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit today. Here’s her report:

I’m super tired, but here’s my take on the USSF today. Many, many people walking around Detroit peacefully and with an air of kindness. Cobo Hall was thumping with hundreds of folks. All different sorts of people — young, old, people of color, white people, queer folks, people of all abilities, people of all different sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds, stinky people, not-so-stinky people, hairy legged and arm-pitted women galore (finally, a place I can fit in), etc.

I was a little nervous that things would swing on the side of a little too PC (the overreaching kind of radicalism that doubles back toward a different kind of fascism), but really all of my personal interactions, whether it be standing in the line for the toilet–and that only happened once–or engaging with people during our workshop, have been amiable and positive networking experiences.

It really made me smile to see so many people all over Detroit with these orange bracelets on and Detroiters would ask,”what you all here for?” And the visitors would respond with an explanation of the forum (and those explanations do vary); many of the Detroiters asked follow-up questions and were interested and really inviting to the visitors.

A personal example: We were checking out Milliken State Park (it is a really pretty wetland park on the river walk downtown) to go over some last minute details for a picnic we are co-throwing with various Detroit and National organizations for people returning to the “free-world” community from prison, and two weathered men were sitting in the shade of the pavilion. They wondered what we were up to and we explained and gave them a flier and invited them to our event-free food, live music, inspirational, political speakers. Anyhow, one of the men called me back over and asked if he could volunteer to help out on Friday. He said he would be at the picnic and stay to make sure the park was all cleaned up. I said we could definitely use his help. A little later we left and he yelled over, “see you Friday to eat and volunteer.”

Whether or not he shows up to volunteer is not the end all or be all, rather this exchange exemplifies the story of general good will that, to me, is the theme of the USSF. We all have our differences, but that overarching feeling of good-will is permeating many of the spaces throughout the social forum. That makes it all worth it…

Natalie says that she’ll send photos tomorrow. In the meantime, you’ll find video at Democracy Now.

And, for those of you who might be interested, a schedule of events taking place on Thursday and Friday can be found here.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted June 23, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    If you were there today, please leave a comment. I’d like to know more about the sessions, etc.

  2. Knox
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    An article from the Detroit News on the first day of activities:

    http://www.detnews.com/article/20100623/METRO01/6230361/1409/metro

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