Grassroots International

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  • What do GMOs, Ibdaa and Amandla Have in Common?

    One of my first experiences at the forum today was watching a group of women from Tamil Nadu shout Amandla Awethu! and sing several variations of we shall overcome. It took me a minute to figure out that they were chanting Amandla until I saw a fellow African nod and smile at me while pointing to the women.

    So its another day and I can't quite figure out how my body is holding up. My task for the day: I promised Ziad Abbas (Co-director of the Ibdaa Cultural Center in Dheishe, Palestine) that I would join him at his session on child labor, child trafficking and children in conflict situations but was also scheduled to interview Vandana Shiva (Indian physicist and activist against biopiracy, the production of GMOs and its effects on poor people) during the same time slot.

  • World Social Forum, Mumbai: Day Two

    Each day seems to get a little more overwhelming. So I will try to highlight just a few experiences and interactions here. Just a quick note on organization though... because people talked alot about how the organization and logistical coordination of the last WSF was somewhat of a challenge. Given how many people are attending (My estimate is 100,000+) I think they are doing an amazing job logistically. There are "assistance" centers, food counters and volunteers with badges everywhere that have made my life a whole lot easier. The biggest problems they are facing are around timing, space and translation. The fact that translation isn't working out is to me the biggest problem and it limits the amount of audience-panel dialogue and other interactions that can happen.

  • Flight Zurich–Mumbai: A Conversation En Route to the World Social Forum

    Wow where do I even begin? I finally got access to the media center on the large WSF grounds here in Mumbai (am thanking the higher powers for having registered as media) and am for the third time trying to submit a log because the electricity keeps cutting so i'll keep it short. I want to backtrack to my trip over here for a minute before moving on to talk about being in Mumbai and the WSF:

    The plane was basically one large WSF delegation mainly from Brazil and Western Europe. I did my first interview with Sasa K. Director of an development and social rights organization in Macedonia (former Yugoslav State which gained its independence in 1991; population 2 million) who was sitting next to me. Here are some things he shared with me.

  • World Social Forum, Mumbai: Opening Thoughts

    It has been quite overwhelming to be in India and at the WSF. The past 24 hours here have been humbling and eye-opening to say the least. I have never felt more first world and priveleged than here partly because I don't speak Hindi and have so little knowledge of the grassroots movements from India that are represented here. It is hard to know where to begin. It is incredible to see people from all over the world connected to grassroots movements and organizations fighting for justice.

  • Headed to the World Social Forum in Mumbai

    My fellowship program (New Voices) is bringing/sending 30 of us to Mumbai for the World Social Forum (WSF) a yearly gathering of social change organizations, activists, organizers, academics (100,000+ registered) etc... that began in 2001 in Brazil as an alternative to the yearly World Economic Forum organized by large multinational corporations, national governments, IMF, the World Bank and the WTO in Davos, Switzerland to discuss trade policies and agreements.

  • Welcome

    Welcome to Grassroots Journal, the weblog of Grassroots International. As an independent human rights, social justice and alternative development organization, GRI interacts with the world in a number of different ways. This weblog is an attempt to share some of the things we learn from the people we meet and work with, and to open new paths of communication about the kind of work that we do.

    To launch this project, we are proud to present a series of reports on the World Social Forum from Nisrin Elamin, GRI's advocacy coordinator.

    The WSF, a gathering of civil society movements and groups who are committed to building a society based on human rights and social justice, takes place this year from January 16-21, 2004 in Mumbai, India. Many of the most exciting activists from around the world will be attending, giving speeches, participating in debates, and sharing the stories of their successes and struggles with one another, all in the interest of building a better world for us all. Nisrin will be attending this year's WSF and sharing her thoughts and experiences with us, here in this weblog.

    In the future, we will use this space to document other journeys on the road to making the world a better place. We hope you will join us, and we hope you enjoy the trip.

  • Feeding Dependency, Starving Democracy

    In 1997, Grassroots International released a research study entitled "Feeding Dependency, Starving Democracy: USAID Policies in Haiti." Offering an in-depth examination of USAID development policies in Haiti, the study concluded that, as the title suggests, official aid actually damaged the very aspects of Haitian society it was allegedly trying to fix – namely it created a lack of democracy and too much dependency.