[ssf] Hello from Dan
dan at aktivix.org
Mon Jun 13 00:08:58 BST 2005
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
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
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
· 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.
Edward Maltby, on behalf of ISYF
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