The USSF, held in Atlanta, Georgia, June 27 – July 1, 2007, was an experience the Funding Exchange was proud to support and participate in. The forum sent a message to people’s movements around the world that there is an active movement in the US, opposing unjust US policies at home and abroad.
Organizers of the forum put out the call early: If you believed that another world is necessary and possible, you were invited not only to participate, but also to take leadership and share your knowledge and perspectives at the forum. To meet this challenge, the Funding Exchange, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Third Wave Foundation and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice strategized to ensure the participation of women at the USSF. In the resulting partnership with Ms., Third Wave and the Overbrook Foundation, the Funding Exchange agreed to administer the pooled funds that provided full funding scholarships to 37 young, low-income women of color and trans women, each of whom is a powerful activist leader in her community.
Four FEX staff members and one intern were also lucky enough to attend the forum. We were perhaps most inspired by the activist-led process by which the forum was organized, and the resulting breadth of people and issues represented. Conference organizers cast the broadest possible net to grassroots communities across the country and the world. As the number of workshop proposals swelled to nearly one thousand, the organizers responded by finding more space, until the conference had spread itself across much of Atlanta. The goal was to bring people together, not to create a common agenda, but to provide the political and geographic space for diverse progressive groups to share ideas that would stimulate common action.
Those of us who attended were able to see theory turn to practice on many occasions. We wish we could bring all of the workshops home to our community, but a few highlights include:
We also learned about cross-generational organizing; black and brown solidarity; media activism in hip-hop communities; new alternatives to incarceration; voting rights organizing; and countless other issues. We came home fired up about the people we had met, new groups that would become a part of our community, deeper learning on issues that we have long supported, and the undying inspiration that comes of seeing progressive leadership in action. We’re looking forward to the next forum in 2010 and to looking back on the progress we’ve made between now and then.