Meeting was held at Chicago Humanist Center in OpenSpaceTechnology
. These notes have been emailed to the listserv, but they are also here so people can work wherever they feel most comfortable (this can be a living document and change as we get more organized). Feel free to chime in, even if you weren't at the meeting.
Chicago Social Forum Notes
- 06 Aug 2003 at the Humanist Center (1751 W. Devon)
These are my (TedErnst's) personal notes of the process and outcomes from Wednesday’s meeting. The other’s present will perhaps fill in what I’ve left our or correct what I’ve gotten wrong. This is a bit messy because I have not really attempted to summarize outcomes as much as give a feel of the process. I’ve also expanded a bit on some brief conversations based on my understand of the point of view of the group, but I might’ve messed that up. Please hold me to your truth. My understanding of the outcomes does come at the end, but again, this is only my point of view and the others will chime in to hold me to their understanding of what happened.
We utilized an Open Space Technology meeting format where there was no predetermined agenda and the people present took responsibility for convening conversations on whatever topics they wanted. In a larger meeting many conversations will take place simultaneously, but in this case the whole group moved through the most pressing topics without utilizing break-outs.
Here is a list of topics posted:
- Who is invited? Who invites?
- Ideas for getting different folks involved in process/ in Chicago Social Forum
- How can we broaden the diversity of people involved with the Chicago Social forum?
- How do we create a truly democratic space for the Chicago Social Forum without interference of sectarian groups, groups with more resources, funders, etc.
- Frustrations with the process/organizing so far - How to overcome them
- Process vs (and/or) Event
- The process for organizing the Chicago Social Forum
- Are we going to think of global/local themes for the Chicago Social Forum?
- What types of outcomes do people experience from a Social Forum?
- What decisions NEED to be made?
- Open Space Life
- What do we need to do to make the Sept 9th meeting a success?
My notes of discussion (others experiences surely differ)
- ideal of process/event is open, but not clear vision of process or event so how to make it happen?
- some have been very careful not to push the process in a particular direction, but this has felt highly inefficient as if this were a “regular” event it would be much further along by now
- opinion: whoever is at the meeting can make whatever decision gets made
- seed group idea from New York (if you’re there for 2 meetings in a row, you can make decisions)
- what about groups taking over for their own agenda?
- what would it look like if a group did try to take it over? Is it possible to create a format that doesn’t get bogged down (is open), but simply doesn’t matter if someone tries to take over?
- could we articulate some basic process principles? (there was agreement about this as a good idea, but we didn’t follow-up on it because the discussion moved on and it no longer seemed necessary)
- Questions that need to be answered between now and Jan31/Feb1?:
- How do we pay for whatever needs to be paid for?
- How are proposals accepted?
- Committees (duties, membership, power, etc)
- Creating broader participation
- Communication during process
Part one: Once per month from now until Forum, we have a big meeting as proposed at the July meeting. This big meeting will start with a conversation on a particular topic (How local issues connect with global issues, for example) and then will move into organizing for the 2nd part. The idea is that people not yet involved in working toward CSF will come for that initial topical conversation and are invited to stay and get involved in the work. The entire meeting can be done in Open Space Technology with therefore a suggestion for two parts (and in fact two times slots), but some people might start the organizing conversations during the 1st time slot and others might continue the topical conversation into the 2nd time slot, as each one chooses.
Part two: Once per month from now until Forum, we have a logistics/business/organizing meeting where all are still welcome, but the focus will be on moving forward with actual logistics/business/organizing. This meeting is also in Open Space Technology.
Further conversation about this proposal: The convener of each session (the one putting the topic on the wall) is responsible for making sure notes get send to the listserv or printed out and brought to the next meeting thus ensuring everyone is kept informed. Each meeting could begin with report-back from the previous meeting or perhaps this won’t be necessary if notes are posted on the wall or copied to hand out at the start of each meeting (a constantly growing log-book of minutes from each session, ultimately documenting the entire process from start to finish).
The above proposal means that anyone can host a similar meeting in their own community, even at the same time as someone else’s meeting. This could vastly increase our possibilities for getting people involved as those already involved are free to invite to meeting in their own areas, then inviting those participants to get involved more directly in the larger process. Notes from these community meetings also go to the listserv.
- Q: What happens if two people convene meetings on the same topic? Shouldn’t someone be responsible for keeping track of all topics to avoid duplication?
- A: Let’s say two groups are convened on “Finding a space for CSF in Jan/Feb?.” Anyone can see those two topics on the wall and suggest to the conveners that they merge these discussions. If they are not merged, one or both sets of notes are sent to the listserv and it can be addressed at following meetings. For example, at the next meeting maybe I’d put “Conflict over Space for CSF” on the wall. We all are capable of working this out without centralizing facilitation or decision-making.
- Q: What happens if the group working on a particular area doesn’t get it done?
- A: If this is to be an open process and people here are not willing to impose their own organizational resources just to “get things done” but instead work within the collective toward (and in) something totally different, it seems the group (again, whoever wants to work on it), will have to address this shortfall.
- Q: How do we know this is going to work?
- A: We know the World Social Forum has worked. We know that people are capable of making their own decisions. We who have been working on creating the Chicago Social Forum so far feel that while it might be worthwhile to use traditional methods to create something open and free, it is much more interesting to “live in” the space we’re creating for Jan/Feb?, rather than simply see Jan/Feb? as an end without regards to the means.
What outcomes to people experience from a Social Forum?
- I felt like a bee hive – all I wanted to do was write about it for hours – totally energized and full of life
- full of hope
- felt the positive side effects of globalization
- logistical frustrations
- the connections made furthered my organizing (tangibly as many are working on same issues from diverse angles and locations)
- The 09Sep03 meeting will be in open space, with the suggestion that the 1st part be local/global and the 2nd part be “what needs to happen to move towards CSF?” /MeetingNotes09Sep03
- Assuming this works as well in Sept as it did in Aug, we will continue meeting this way as outlined in the proposal above. Each meeting location/date can be decided by the person or group wishing to host it. People can be working on Oct, Nov and Dec big meeting places now so the calendar can be set. The same can happen for the logistical meetings.
- This is fun!
Incidentally, I have started a wiki-space at ChicagoSocialForum where I will put any notes posted to the listserv. Wiki is a way of making websites where ANYONE can make new pages or modify what’s already there...This is not meant to be a replacement for the listserv, but for those that find they are comfortable working in the wiki environment, it could prove useful as all notes can be updated as things change, rather than having to wade through several different versions on email. If it’s not for you, don’t worry, all significant results will be sent to the listserv as well as printed out for the meetings.