Thursday, June 3, 2010

Alliance for Democracy at the US Social Forum

Alliance for Democracy is a sponsor or collaborating organization for the following 2-hour workshops and 4-hour Peoples Movement Assemblies. We are excited to be working with several other groups on these events. Workshop topics include strategy session for keeping water accessible and in public hands, rights-based organizing around toxins in water, and teaching about corporate plunder and community resistance with the Tapestry of the Commons presentation. Peoples Movement Assemblies will focus on health care, ecojustice, and corporate personhood.

Click on the "read more" link for full descriptions, and see you in Detroit!

1. Water Warriors Strategy Session
People’s Water Board of Detroit and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, sponsoring organizations; AfD collaborating organization

Wednesday, June 23, 1:00 – 5:30 pm, Cobo Hall, Room D3-28

This four hour workshop will give Water Warriors from many areas an opportunity to share their struggles to obtain access to clean, affordable water and to discuss their vision and strategies for advancing those struggles. The People's Water Board is a coalition of organizations based in Detroit, Michigan that have come together to confront: 1) the devastating lack of access to water faced by thousands of low income people who have had their water shut off; 2) water pollution due to industrial irresponsibility and an aging wastewater infrastructure; and 3) the effort of corporate interests to gain control of Detroit's water system.

2. Our Democratic Right to Safe Water and Health

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, sponsor; AfD, collaborating organization

Wednesday, June 23, 10:00 – 12:00 pm, Cobo Hall, Room O2-35

Safe water for personal and domestic use is essential for health and life. New science shows how trace amounts of chemicals and heavy metals in water cause life-threatening diseases and disrupt normal cognitive, neurological and reproductive development from cradle to grave. This accumulating “body burden” of toxics creates a “precondition” for disease at any time in life, even many years after exposure. Alarmingly, research shows how a mother’s “body burden” affects fetal development and the content of milk for the nursing child. Industry, agriculture and the military, the worst offenders, lobby government to lower regulations and fight in court against fines.

This workshop will lead participants in a discussion of how to reframe this issue from one of regulation that actually permits degrees of harm to that of asserting our rights. U.S. corporations, given the rights of persons in the 19th century, have no right to harm the bodies of natural persons. We, the People, must assert our fundamental, inalienable right to be free of involuntary invasion of our bodies by disease-causing toxics. Steps for communities to take to assert this democratic right will be presented such as: adopting a Precautionary Principle Ordinance for a city to act with “precaution” to prevent harms to the environment and protect public health even when full scientific evidence about cause and effect is lacking; and passing a “Chemical Trespass Ordinance” to prohibit corporate chemical bodily trespass, establish strict liability and burden of proof standards for chemical trespass, and subordinate corporations to the people.

3. Tapestry of the Commons: Corporate Plunder vs. Community Rights
Alliance for Democracy, sponsor; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, collaborating organization

Thursday, June 24, 10:00 – 12:00 pm, UAW Building 1032

There is new focus on “the commons” as corporations and individuals commodify almost every aspect of nature and culture creation. We can not stand by as our shared “commonwealth” is turned into private property for global investors and the financial elite to profit. The central questions raised in this workshop are: what is “the commons,” what aspect of nature and culture creation should be part of the “the commons,” and what principles should apply to the use and sharing of “the commons.” Participants will create the Tapestry of the Commons by weaving together sets of ribbons that represent aspects of nature and of culture to envision how they are interwoven and interdependent.

Using interactive exercises participants will explore, how, for example, media, literature, movies, and advertising condition how we think about nature, what “rules," creations of culture, should apply to nature; who should be making these rules?

This workshop is suited to teachers looking for new, creative ways to explore these and many other questions with Elementary and Middle School students. The answers hold the keys to protecting and sharing the commons of nature on which all life depends, safeguarding our human culture, and advancing community democracy and the rights of nature over corporate plunder.

Peoples Movement Assemblies
All are held on Friday, June 25, from 1:-5:30 pm in Cobo Hall. Look for room assignments in the descriptions.

What the Health Happened and How Do We Get the Healthcare We Need?
Submitted by Healthcare-NOW with large group of collaborating organizations, including AfD Room M3-31, Cobo Hall

The national debate on health reform went from discussing the heath care we need to how to make health care an affordable, quality commodity for those who can pay for it. Groups will present to what happened in this past year that reduced an opportunity to improve our health system to a political win that restructures the broken employer-based for-profit insurance system we currently have. We will examine the recent health reform, and why the battle must continue with an understanding that the movement for the health care we need is connected to the broader movement demanding healthy food, adequate housing, the right to water and a clean environment, having control over your own life, and being able to fully participate in decisions about your community. This meeting will seek to engage those who have been organizing for an expanded and improved Medicare for All system, as well as new perspectives in the discussion to launch the movement for the right to health care in a new and transformative way uniting head, heart, and feet together to secure the health care we need. We must do it together with a broad people’s movement ready to commit to doing the work to build for the health care for people not for profit.

Climate Justice/Energy/Ecojustice and the Rights of Mother Earth
Two PMAs on this topic were submitted and are being combined; see the two descriptions below.
Room D3-28, Cobo Hall

#1: Climate Justice/Energy and Rights of Mother Earth
submitted by the Alliance for Democracy with edits by Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network and includes these collaborating organizations: Indigenous Environmental Network, Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, Mountain Justice, Southern Tier Advocacy & Mitigation Project, Shaleshock Alliance, Southwest Workers Union, Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice

The 2009 Copenhagen global negotiations on climate change failed to produce a legally binding agreement when the U.S. joined forces with other countries to create an entirely new agreement called the Copenhagen Accords with weak targets and no legally binding obligations for the mitigation of climate change. The strengthening of a U.S.-based social movement to hold the U.S. accountable in national and international climate policy is critical.

From a social and environmental justice framework with intentional participation of communities of color, indigenous peoples and the poor, and communities impacted by extractive energy industries, there will be two 2-hour sessions. 1st: Report of the Global Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, Cochabamba, Bolivia, its’ Peoples’ Agreement and Working Group conclusions; 2nd: to share findings/strategize ideas for building a national campaign around such issues as exposing the false solutions of national and global climate policy and cross-cutting issues ranging from, but not limited to: community rights, energy, water as a human right, food security, economic paradigms, green jobs, and others issues brought forward.

Outcome: consider a U.S.-based social movement Declaration on climate change, human rights and Mother Earth as the source of all life, creating a new system based on the principles of harmony and balance to complement the Cochabamba “Protocols,” and call for a U.S. national summit for movement building beyond the USSF and the Cancun climate conference.

#2: Ecological Justice
Initiated by Ruckus Society and including Movement Generation, Southwest Workers Union, Environmental Justice Climate Coalition, GAIA, Mothers on the Move, Women of Color United, Just Transition Alliance, Global Justice Ecology Project, Indigenous Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, WEACT/EJ Leadership Forum on Climate Change, APEN, Gulf Coast Fellowship for Community Transformation, Institute for Policy Studies

For the last two decades, environmental justice communities have fought to win the right to live, work, play and pray free of toxins and poisons polluting our air, water, and land. Nearly twelve years after the Principles of Environmental Justice were drafted, our social movements understand that the systems that have allowed the poisoning of our communities have also stolen some of us from our lands while stealing land from others. Meanwhile, more and more of the earth’s precious resources have been stripped and misused, leaving once resilient natural systems and the earth’s climate systems on the verge of collapse.

While the US government tries to advance a carbon trading plan that brings another commonly-held resource – atmospheric space – into the market sphere, communities-of-color, Indigenous Peoples, and low-income communities will the hit first and worst by the effects of climate chaos.

In this critical moment, the USSF provides a key site for indigenous peoples, environmental justice, immigrant rights, economic justice, and other racial justice movements to come together to strategize to win community control over our lives and our resources. The voices of indigenous peoples and grassroots community organizations in impacted communities must be central to helping us foster communities of resistance and resilience that can rewrite the rules of the game based on transformed relationships – with each other and the earth.

At this Ecological Justice PMA, we hope to advance proposals from the grassroots for shared work on climate and ecological justice rooted in an understanding of the need to transform the global systems that determine the ways each of us gets to live, work and play.

End Corporate Rule. Legalize Democracy. Move to Amend the Constitution
Collaborating Organizations: Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County, Independent Progressive Politics Network, Ultimate Civics, Program on Corporations Law and Democracy, Liberty Tree: Foundation for the Democratic Revolution, Alliance for Democracy
Cobo Hall, Room W2-68

Participants will help design the Move to Amend campaign, and to participate through their regional networks and local organizations. We will break up into small groups and participants will develop Resolutions to include in the national Amendment discourse. Unelected and unaccountable corporate CEOS are not merely exercising power, they are RULING over us. Corporations make fundamental public policy decisions, while “We the People” have no opportunity for meaningful participation. And those decisions are literally destroying the planet, creating a racist, patriarchal and class-oppressive society with the plunder. Even when people’s movements build sufficient power to enact laws that actually address social injustice or environmental destruction, the wealthy elite overturn our laws in court. Often, the justification for overturning such democratically enacted laws is that those laws violate the “constitutional rights” of corporations. It’s time that we take ourselves and our movement seriously. We must not only challenge oppression itself, but the legal system that legitimizes that oppression. We must build a movement that calls for a new Constitution—one that acknowledges our RIGHT to create the peaceful, just and democratic world that we want and deserve. To do so, the legal doctrine of “Corporate Personhood” must be abolished! A multi-racial, gender balanced coalition of grassroots groups and national organizations are already working to do just that. We are calling for a series of Constitutional Amendments to make the unfulfilled promise of democracy a reality in the United States. For a complete list of coalition partners and PMA sponsors, see

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