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Impressions from the Boston Social Forum
an article by Helen Raisz and Joe Yannielli

There were so many good workshops and seminars! It was hard to choose where to go. Hence, in giving our impressions of the Boston Social Forum, we can only touch on a few of the nearly 600 events that were attended by 5000 participants from July 23-25.

As the organizers said, the Forum was not a platform, nor an organization, but an "open space ... a meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and interlinking for effective action by groups and movements ... committed to building a society centered on the human person."

Timed just before the Democratic National Convention, the Forum had much to say about American politics. Some highlights:

* Granny D, a marvelous orator, signs of FDR and even Barbara Jordan, had a good message for the splintered left: "This election is not about YOU. For every time there is a season. This is the Electoral Season. Get Busy."

* Danny Glover and youth from the League of Pissed-Off Voters (See CPNN report) led a discussion on the "National People's Platform" for community-based activism.

* Dennis Kucinich in the panel for a strong United Nations, spoke about the need for a culture of peace.

* The youth and student peace coalition discussed books not bombs (See CPNN report).

* Angela Davis spoke on corporate globalization and the prison industrial complex.

* Tom Hayden addressed the problem of gang violence.

Continuing the internationalist tradition of Porto Alegre and Mumbai (see CPNN report), other Forum highlights included:

* a description of what the wall means to one village in Palestine, presented by a member of Boston to Palestine Solidarity;

* presentations on Cuba by two members of Venceremos, just returned last week and the aide to Congressman McGovern who has worked to lift the travel ban;

* a speakout by a founding member of the Iraqi vets against the war.

Not surprisingly, given the size of the Forum, it was not always well organized. It was especially annoying when some participants monopolized discussions. But - this was the first time anyone in the U.S. tried something like this, we should give them some slack.

Further information is available on the Boston Indymedia website.


Question(s) related to this article:

World Social Forums, Advancing the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace?

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Latest reader comment:

At the Forum, almost everything touched on the culture of peace, although only a few speakers linked their talks to the UN initiative, prompting a leader of the French Peace movement to remark he was disappointed that the culture of peace was not better represented at the Forum. The response to CPNN was positive, but most people were unaware of its existence.  Next time there should be culture of peace events, pins and t-shirts, as well as the CPNN cards and flyers that we gave out.

This report was posted on July 29, 2004.