[ssf] Hello from Dan

Dan dan at aktivix.org
Mon Jun 13 00:08:58 BST 2005

Hia Edward,

My name's Dan - I'm connected to the Sheffield Social Forum. Thanks for 
the e-mail and the invite - I've forwarded it to the SSF discussion 
list. I'd suggest getting yourself onto the SSF discussion list, so that 
you can make suggestions - http://lists.aktivix.org/mailman/listinfo/ssf

I've also included the Social Forum list in this e-mail, because others 
might want to disagree with me on some things - yeah, I know, I do go a 
bit overboard on democracy sometimes! I'm just going to comment on my 
own behalf.

I've read your discussion at the MSN ISYF page with interest - (not a 
very diplomatic description of the SSF there, but hey...!) It would 
certainly be worth meeting up, although if I did it wouldn't be as a 
delegate - just as an interested activist. Again, that's because SSF 
isn't able to send delegates as such. (Any more than, say, Burngeave 
Area Panel could send delegates.)

On your proposals: I've actually recently proposed an SSF planning 
meeting that will be looking to do something in the same ball-park, if 
not exactly the same. See - 
http://lists.aktivix.org/pipermail/ssf/2005-June/001290.html - a 
proposal for a full Sheffield Social Forum in either late Autumn or 
possibly early 2006.

(If that seems like a long timescale, spare a thought for Boston Social 
Forum - two years of planning, ending in 5000 attendees, and 550 events 
- with Noam Chomsky as a mentor! See 
http://letslink.org/papers/BostonSocialForum.doc for the full write-up.)

So - is there scope for working together? It seems that we may have 
similar goals, but equally it may be that we're doing very different 
things. Either way, I believe in working with people, particularly 
locally, as much as possible. Let's find out.

Your focus is global. While SSF doesn't shun global issues, it has also 
focused on the local impact of globalisation and profit before people - 
see, for example, the research being done into the impact of 
'regeneration' policy in Burngreave on the SSF WIKI: 
http://wiki.sheffieldsocialforum.org.uk/SpitalHill - and making links 
slowly over time with other groups.

On getting groups together for global issues, Sheffield's 'inter-agency 
conference' run an event once every one or two years. Their focus is on 
global issues solely - although they don't campaign between these 
events. See http://wiki.sheffieldsocialforum.org.uk/Hungry_for_Justice 
for details of last year's. (Have a read of the transcripts from the day 
at the end - that was a lot of typing! But Michael Hart's talk is really 
worth reading.)

What the inter-agency conference people *do* have is a lot of members 
who campaign on global issues - WDM, Christian Aid, Cafod (who you've 
written to) and others. What those groups *don't* have is a very young 

The biggest lesson for me, throughout my SSF involvement, has been 
learning about the ecology of local organisations: who they are, how 
they relate to, say, Sheffield's huge regeneration sector (which can 
affect their ability to affiliate or participate as organisations, 
although you'll see the people at things like the SSF launch and Peace 
in the Park yesterday), all the various socialist factions, including 
authoritarian or open ones.

It's been about how to to co-operate in that eco-system. This has meant, 
for example, that SSF had an open meeting, with food etc, in Feb - but 
since then, most people have been either involved in G8 planning and / 
or Peace in the Park organising.

We did a pretty large amount of outreach for the launch, and making 
links with people has since been an ongoing process. As I think someone 
else has said to you, there's actually already a large amount of 
informal connection and communication between groups: the question is, 
what role can further organisation or meetings play in making this more 
valuable and effective locally?

I'd also say that being *really* specific about goals is important. This 
is something that the SSF didn't get for a while: then we had the 
launch. Since when various things have been tried, worked or failed.

I'm guessing trying to get Sheffield organisations to join a single 
movement, as you suggest, might be a bit like herding cats. The reason 
the Social Forum movement gets so uppity about keeping itself as 'a 
space, not a body' is so that it can act as a place for groups to come 
together to plan actions - without them feeling an agenda is being 
imposed on them. There are always issues of power, and they should be 
made as clear as possible - but still, the Social Forum space is (at 
least for me) meant to be somewhere that organisations can trust an 
agenda won't be forced upon them.

But I'm going on a bit now! Let me know if you're happy for informal, 
individual activists to attend - which is to say, whether you're OK with 
it being an open meeting.

You may also be interested in another local group who are organising a 
'power inquiry' meeting, some time in the early Autumn. It's a national 
investigation, being funded by the Joseph Rowntree foundation. I reckon 
they could do with some input - take a look at the website to see if its 
your kind of thing (the same goes for SSFers) and let me know if you 
want contact details - http://www.powerinquiry.org/

Right! Gonna stop waffling now. Look forward to hearing from you,



Dear Sir or Madam,

My name is Edward Maltby, and I’m currently studying for my A-levels in 
Sheffield. I’m also a member of the Independent Socialist Youth Forum 
(www.isyf.tk), which is a sixth form and university student organisation 
which campaigns on social justice issues.

We have noticed that there are a great number of groups in Sheffield, 
all part of the same movement, all with roughly convergent aims, but who 
do not appear to act very much in firm concert.

What we propose is a meeting between the most prominent Sheffield-based 
social justice groups and campaigners to discuss creating a permanent 
council to co-ordinate co-operation between each other. Ideally, it 
would follow the model of the Make Poverty History campaign, whereby 
hundreds of individual groups joined a single movement to organise a 
dynamic, urgent, high-profile and sustained campaign, to raise awareness 
of global issues and create huge popular pressure on politicians.

The five proposed manifesto points for this group are:

· Furthering the independent media movement
· Protecting the environment locally and globally
· Finding democratic and accountable alternatives for the IMF, WTO and 
World Bank
· Creating a global parliament
· Instituting a Tobin Tax on international currency speculation

Of course, these are only proposals and will have to be discussed and 
possibly changed at future meetings.

A provisional date for the first meeting has been set for the 30th of 
June – but a venue has yet to be booked.

We would like to invite two representatives of your organisation to the 
meeting – and it would be appreciated if you could reply to this email 
to accept or decline this invitation by the 17th of June.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Maltby, on behalf of ISYF

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