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Success of the WSF Consultation

Dear all,

The consultancy process that the International Committee decided to launch as part of the 2005 World Social Forum preparations, due to end on 31 July, has met with an even bigger success than expected. Over 1,000 organisations have taken part in the process, a positive effect of the fact that we all consider the Forum as an open and participative process and not simply as an event. Faced with the evident interest in the consultancy process, it is vital that we respect the diversity represented by the participants and their responses, as well as guaranteeing all organisations the right to link up independently with other organisations.

At the same time, it is essential that we take into account the limits of the consultancy process. These include the fact that over half the organisations that took part in the process, if not three quarters of them, are Latin American organisations, mostly Brazilian. The consultancy process cannot therefore be considered as representative of all the organisations likely to take part in the next WSF, especially since the Mumbai event opened up the Forum to new areas which we must not cut ourselves off from. In addition, not all the organisations responded to the consultancy process in the same way. For example, some used a great many key words and wrote long texts, whereas others only used one key word and wrote just a few words, if any. This means that, if we defined the format of the Forum based solely on the consultancy process, some organisations would come across as far more creative in terms of links and work themes than others, without it necessarily reflecting the actual contents of the proposed activities. Grouping organisations together on a theme-only basis would also mean diluting the presence of a number of actors who want, quite legitimately, to appear as themselves, including women, the homeless, lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals. And finally, we realised that by only taking into account the consultancy process, we would be ignoring the experience acquired by the Forum over the years (for example, its slow structuring into lines that do not block self-managed activities) and would even risk depoliticising it somewhat; for instance, the theme of patriarchy barely crops up in the consultancy process, whereas it emerged as one of the main concerns of the two previous Forums.

The definition of the 2005 Forum’s format needs to be a little ”repoliticised”, with the aim of bringing together actors with different characters and different strategies around relatively cross-cutting themes. The 2005 Forum will be designed as a community, within which everyone will be able to experiment with certain elements from the other world. The Forum community will be divided into sub-groups, whose name remains to be decided. These sub-groups will be defined during the meeting of the “contents and methodology” committees taking place on 22, 23 and 24 August in Sao Paolo. The concrete contents of the groups will be based directly on the consultancy process: each participating organisation will be invited to take part in one or more groups with no constraints. Within each of these groups, the organisations concerned will be free to define the number and format of activities they wish to organise. This work will impact directly on the physical architecture of the community. The goal of this process is to avoid several pitfalls: the danger and raison d?être of the consultancy process - of building a platform in a way that is neither participative nor spontaneous, and the danger of using the consultancy process to create groups that are too artificial and not really spontaneous. So there you have the latest news on Porto Alegre 2005. Good luck with the rest of the preparations for the Forum!

(Please don’t hesitate to write the author for further informations)



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The World Social Forum



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