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The Boston Social Forum: Another World is Possible
25 Jul 2004
Starting on July 23rd, 2004, thousands of progressive people and organizations came together at the 3 day Boston Social Forum (BSF, http://www.bostonsocialforum.org). Following the 2004 model of the World Social Forum that happened in Mumbai, India, the Boston Social Forum is not a platform or an organization, and is, in their words, an “open space… a meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of xperiences and interlinking for effective action by groups and movements… committed to building a society centered on the human person.”


Starting on July 23rd, 2004, thousands of progressive people and organizations came together at the 3 day Boston Social Forum (BSF, http://www.bostonsocialforum.org). Following the 2004 model of the World Social Forum that happened in Mumbai, India, the Boston Social Forum is not a platform or an organization, and is, in their words, an “open space… a meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of xperiences and interlinking for effective action by groups and movements… committed to building a society centered on the human person.”

Featuring a collection of progressive events, exhibits and cultural activities, lectures and workshops, art installations and convocations, the Boston Social Forum is a massive local reaction against the societal issues that our world faces, including the current U.S. Administration and the Boston-based Democratic National Convention. The nearly 600 events planned for this weekend summit include topics as diverse as: Racial Profiling: Before and After 9/11, Impacts of Nuclear Testing in Light of New nuclear Rearmament, The Killing Zone (Gaza), Theatre of the Oppressed, Community Based Divestment, Free Gift with your Cosmetics Purchase! A Complimentary Dose of Toxic Chemicals, Sweatshops, Outsourcing, Venezuelan Democratic Revolution, and many more.

The mood of the event has been nothing if not festive. While there are sobering topics and issues discussed, there are also pointed moments of joy and a general feeling of welcome relief. There are real issues that we face, there are enormous obstacles that we must overcome, and there are many people who are all aware of and working towards a better future.

Outside of the dozens of classrooms, media labs and lecture halls, underneath the eves of college buildings, many local and national organizations had tables with informational literature, buttons, bumper stickers, books, clothes, maps, posters and other items for the curious attendee. Well known activist organizations like the Beehive Collective (http://www.beehivecollective.org/) and Code Pink (http://www.codepink4peace.org/) had booths, and other lesser known but equally important organizations such as the Somerville based Eagle Eye Institute (http://www.eagleeyeinstitute.org), an organization that helps urban youth experience nature in a variety of different ways, including forest learning, land stewardship and green industry career programs.

Within the hallways of the U-Mass Boston campus, delegates to this Social Forum politely made their way to the day's events. Each day was planned with many minor events and a single major evening Convocation with guest speakers. The opening Convocation included guest speakers such as Angela Davis, Winona LaDuke and local city Counciler Chuck Turner. Some of the many topics mentioned by these guest speakers included U.S. imperialism, racism, green power and representive government. Perhaps most clearly and elegantly, Winona LaDuke's comments about representative democracy and our need for true alternatives to our country's longstanding oppressive government are an accurate summation of this forum.

The groups and individuals who came to this gathering, the majority of whom met for the first time, are a small representation of the larger anti-globalization movement. The common ground of each topic discussed at this forum is corporate greed and the dehumanization of our social and political structures. During these 3 days, while people talk and smile and weep, they are also building bridges and forging networks that will help strengthen the movement. These delegates are many of the people who are changing the world, and this Social Forum is one of what we should all hope is a progressive trend in liberal social movement.

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