Social Solidarity Economy Forum Visits North America

by Tawana 'Honeycomb' Petty

From April 7th - 10th, I had the honor of co-coordinating, along with Emily Kawano from RIPESS, NA, a convergence of hundreds in Detroit for the North American Social Solidarity Economy Forum. It was the first time the Social Solidarity Economy Forum had been held in North America. Presenters and participants came from Cuba, Quebec, Spain, Jackson, MS, St. Louis, MO, New York and all across the globe. We also had many participants and presenters from Detroit who shared the work that Detroiters are doing locally, as well as their Detroit collaborations across the globe.

We danced together, performed together, and engaged in political struggle. We struggled around politics, new work and new culture, racism, patriarchy, capitalism and more. We participated in a Theater of the Oppressed workshop hosted by Reg Flowers, a yoga workshop with Gwi-seok Hong, performed in a No Talent Necessary Talent Show hosted by Bryce and danced in respect of indigenous land and our Ancestors thanks to Consuela Lopez.

We successfully held a forum with over 400 participants and had only 1 regular sized garbage bag of waste per day. We hope to take that down to zero waste soon. Thanks to Homespun Hustle, many participants either rented, bought or brought their own utensils and dishes, then washed them at a washing station. We composted our food scraps in order to produce new food, thanks to Ty Petrie.

The young people held it down with their own incredible youth track thanks to the organizing of B. Anthony and we held serious discussions on race and decolonizing the solidarity economy with an entire track thanks to William Copeland, Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Elandria Williams and others.

On April 7th, we had 3 amazing tours: From Growing our Economies to Growing Our Souls (Rich Feldman-Boggs Center), Five Miles to Freedom (Jamon Jordan-Historian) and Incite Focus Fab Lab tours (Blair Evans) and hosted a screening of American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. From April 8th-10th, we held over 65 workshops and activities and four plenaries. Be sure to check out all the workshops and plenaries and all the incredible facilitators who made them possible.

Plenaries included:

  1. Building the Movement for a Social Solidarity Economy

  2. De-colonizing the Solidarity Economy

  3. Achieving Recognition and Support for the Social Solidarity Economy

  4. SSE from Latin America/Caribbean to North America

Participants brought and exchanged items and held discussions around their newly found treasures with our swap, thanks to Halima Cassells.

Many folks made the NASSE Forum successful, and we still have much work to do. Thank you to everyone who made the forum possible and who will continue to do the work. Thank you to the coordinating committee, local coordinating team, all presenters, volunteers, to Samaritan Center and the Wellness Center, to our sound engineer, maintenance folks, the Digital Stewards for our wireless mesh set-up and to all of our sponsors. Thank you to Kehben Grier of the Beehive Collective for the wonderful cover art attached, which was used on our program.

May we all continue to build towards the world we want to live in.

In love and in struggle.