A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the US Social Forum

Posted on June 22, 2010


I was planning on live-blogging from the US Social Forum, but an offer to volunteer soon became an a full-time commitment to do Spanish-language interpretation for the duration of the week. I don’t know how much free time I’ll have–I’ve been led to believe zero–so I want to take a minute to at least get some thoughts down at the beginning of the conference.

First things. Detroit is a strange country. They  have their July fourth here two weeks before July Fourth. And on a Monday. So I came in on a downtown-wide block party, which I have to say, was cool. My roommate snores. I know they say there are a lot of Arab-Americans here. But there really are a lot of Arab-Americans here. I haven’t had this many people pronounce my name correctly since I lived in Palestine.

Okay. Now that’s out of the way. There’s a lot of excitement here and a comfortably transgenerational feel, not just young hippies or perma-culturites. Things are just beginning. But, of course, once I closed off an avenue, I feel a great deal of regret for the workshops I won’t be able to attend—“DIY New Media”—“On the Road of Unilateral Actions to Suspend Debt Repayment”—“Popularizing Radical Politics”… But at the same time, just being a part of this event is an political act in itself, especially considering the non-hierarchical way in which disparate people have come together to form groups to fulfill the needs of such a gathering. The group I’m involved with, for example, handles all of the language requirements. No one told them to do this, they just saw the need and created the infrastructure. Similarly, the wi-fi signal that I’m using to post this is provided by another group who have come together to provide their tech skills to fulfill the needs of the conference. If they hadn’t all been individually motivated, none of this would be happening. Which is pretty fucking amazing.

More later I hope. Unlike most of the time when I don’t spell or grammar check, this time I have a good excuse, since my battery is about to die.