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Breaking News - US North West Social Forum Collapses!!!!!!!!!!!

horizontal | 07.10.2004 01:30 | European Social Forum | Free Spaces | Globalisation | Indymedia | London

The US NorthWest Social Forum planned for the same time as the ESF in London has collapsed as several groups pulled out of the process citing problems over the organising process including accountability, failure to adhere to charters and values, and margianalisation of grassroots groups.

Here are the statements from

Northwest Social Forum will not be held October 15-17, 2004.
The International Forum on Globalization pre-event, scheduled for October 14 will not be held.

Statement of the Planning Committee of the Northwest Social Forum
October 6, 2004

With deep sadness, the Northwest Social Forum Planning Committee has come to the painful decision not to hold the Northwest Social Forum as it had been planned from the 15th to the 17th of October. The Indigenous Programming Committee withdrawal of September 23, followed by The Youth Planning Committee’s withdrawal of September 28, has been of great concern to the NWSF Planning Committee and to the many communities that have been participating at different times and in different capacities.

While our goal has been to use the Forum as a space and a process to bring the networks and communities together, at this point we feel that the process is not serving that purpose. Our decision indicates our desire not to increase the division or confusion and to return to our focus of building relationships and social movements that foster understanding and cooperation within our diversity.

The NWSF Planning Committee deeply apologizes for all the inconvenience this decision will cause. Before making this decision, we would have preferred to consult far more extensively with all the communities that have worked so hard to put on the NWSF about their views about what is to be done. However, given that there are only nine days before the event was scheduled to begin, such extensive consultations did not seem feasible.

We the Planning Committee reaffirm our commitment to the principles set out by the participant organizations in the initial NWSF planning retreat back in April 04 and attach those principles. Once more we take responsibility for misunderstandings, misstatements, transgressions, and inadequate responsiveness to concerns raised by the Indigenous and Youth Committees.

As we move forward with this decision, we the Planning Committee, reaffirm our most sincere intent and commitment to dialogue and healing based on learning, respect and mutuality. We especially encourage all those communities that have been historically marginalized and exploited to participate in this process.

We believe the NWSF should be seen as an event in the path we walk to build strong networks and movements in the Northwest region and beyond. We remain hopeful for our working together in the spirit and principles of the Northwest Social Forum because “Another world is possible” and we all together can build it.


NWSF Planning Committee




Indigenous Programming Committee Statement on the Northwest Social Forum
After consultation with local Northwest Coast Native elders and leaders, the Indigenous Programming Committee (IPC) members have decided to dissolve our participation on the planning committee for the Northwest Social Forum (NWSF) and withdraw our participation at the NWSF. The Indigenous Programming Committee is comprised of Native grassroots leaders from the Northwest, organizers from the Indigenous Environmental Network, Native Movement, and allies. We recognize that a tremendous amount of work has gone into the organizing of this event and as such has made this a very difficult decision.

During the NWSF Planning Retreat (April 15-18, 2004) a gathering of over 40 Northwest grassroots organizers and community leaders from diverse backgrounds, including three Native representatives, came together to meet each other and developed a vision for the NWSF. Here are a few core values that were presented during the retreat and initial planning meetings:

• Working from the ground up with grassroots workers, organizers and activists taking the lead.
• Recognition of traditional wisdom, traditional knowledge and protocol for working together with Native elders and leaders.
• As people of color and Indigenous peoples, we speak for ourselves and we set our own priorities.
• Affirming the youth as full members and committing resources support and sustain their work.
• Shared and equal leadership, respect, cooperation, open and honest communication and decision-making based on consensus.
• Appropriate funding resources and adequate support to organizing grassroots involvement at the NWSF.

These values also uphold the Second National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, “Principles of Working Together” (see attachment). This document was shared with key organizers during the second planning committee meeting.

The advice and concerns that we received after our consultation with local Native elders and leaders indicate that the overall vision and core values were not upheld by the planning committee and by the overall planning process. Issues regarding protocol, outreach and community involvement raised by our Indigenous representatives and some grassroots representatives to the planning committee were not heard, trivialized and not taken into consideration. Thus, full consensus was never achieved at every level of decision-making resulting in our Indigenous Programming Committee representatives and other grassroots representatives to the planning committee feeling marginalized. Additionally, minimal funds, time constraints, internal organizing demands, and lack of accountability greatly impaired the ability to do effective outreach and accommodate Indigenous participation at the NWSF at this point in time. The NWSF planning committee should not take for granted the leadership and expertise in the grassroots communities and be able to demonstrate a commitment to take the lead from grassroots people.

Numerous attempts to address these concerns and ensure accountability among all parties involved on the planning committee were presented by Indigenous representatives, but unfortunately failed. We feel these core values mentioned above have been violated with unprincipled actions taken with regard to the planning of the NWSF. Therefore, IPC has chosen to dissolve its participation with the NWSF planning committee and withdraw our participation at the NWSF. Although we are not participating we remain committed to building meaningful and respectful relationships with those who uphold the vision and principles of the Northwest Social Forum.


Voice, Mind, Music: Youth Planning Committee Statement

In light of the recent dissolution of participation in the Northwest Social Forum by the Indigenous Peoples Group and affiliated organizations we, the Youth Committee, have been compelled to reevaluate our participation as well. After reviewing the statement of dissolution put forth by the Indigenous Peoples and significant dialalogue amongst committee members, we the Youth Committee, have decided by consensus to withdraw from the Northwest Social Forum. The basis for this decision is the same as outlined in the Indigenous People’s statement and which highlighted a broad gap between the values and ideals of the Social Forum model and the realities encountered by grassroots youth of color who have tried to participate in the organizing process. The three core values from the IPC, statement that we as youth and youth of color feel have been unrealized with respect to our participation are reproduced below.

• Working from the ground up with grassroots workers, organizers and activists taking the lead. Affirming the youth as full members and committing resources support and sustain their work.
• Shared and equal leadership, respect, cooperation, open and honest communication and decision-making based on consensus.
• Appropriate funding resources and adequate support to organizing grassroots involvement at the NWSF.

Further, we feel that to host a Social Forum without the participation and approval of the Indigenous Peoples of this land is profoundly in conflict with the stated vision of the Social Forum, “ Another World is Possible.”

As a youth committee we remain committed to realizing our goal of hosting a Youth Summit that will reflect and embrace the issues, and interests of youth, and specifically youth of color in our region.


NW Social Forum Planning Committee Reply to Statement by Indigenous Programming Committee
September 28, 2004

To the members of the Indigenous Programming Committee of the Northwest Social Forum:

As members of the Northwest Social Forum (NWSF) planning committee, we deeply appreciate the members of the Indigenous Programming Committee and other indigenous leaders who brought their wisdom, their concerns and their issues to the planning process of this first-ever Northwest regional social forum.

Truly, it is with deep regret that we receive the message that the Indigenous Programming Committee will no longer participate in the NWSF.

As individual planners, we know and understand the hard work and level of commitment required to create programming, reach out to communities, and engage others in a process that is largely unknown. Resources and adequate time for planning are stretched thin, and we’re all challenged to create the most compelling and worthwhile programming possible.

From the beginning, organizers involved in planning the Northwest Social Forum (NWSF) recognized that participation – individual and collective – would be based on a commitment to an ongoing, long-term – and sometimes difficult – process to bring together diverse movements and peoples. In April, we strengthened this commitment by collectively developing the NWSF Charter of Principles and Operational Guiding Principles.

Because of our commitment, we take responsibility for oversights, misstatements, and transgressions, and for less-than-adequate accountability and responsiveness to concerns raised by the Indigenous Programming Committee, and we apologize. The event – and the process by which it is coming together – is a huge undertaking and learning process for all of us.

An important piece for everyone planning and participating in this event is to honor indigenous peoples as we all gather on their traditional lands. This has been central to developing the Forum, and we believe that the Forum will be less than it could have been without the Indigenous Programming Committee participation. The strong presence of indigenous wisdom is important. We respectfully invite indigenous participation in whatever way is considered appropriate.

As we move forward – as we must - we reaffirm our most sincere intent to respect and stay within the process we have all committed to and bring the movements and communities together and to celebrate our strength in working together.

We ask that either during the forum, or at another time, we gather to hear from each other about how we might work together in the future in respectful and effective ways, and how we might heal the wounds that have occurred. The intent of a social forum is to move us all down the road of understanding and respect, and we hope that this difficult time can bring learning and new ways to work together.

We’re heartened by the final sentence of the Committee’s statement, saying that the Committee “remains committed to building meaningful and respectful relationships with those who uphold the vision and principles of the Northwest Social Forum.” We, too, remain committed to those ideals and trust they will provide a foundation for our next steps in learning, understanding, and future collaboration.


The Planning Committee of the NWSF.



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  1. That's sad to hear but... — Ozymandias