Questions to Ask Yourself (and Others) Before Going to the 2010 USSF:

(Answer questions, question the questions or add questions in the comments.)


1. How is “movement” being defined by the organizers of the USSF?

What is the USSF’s strategies (fundraising, community participation, issue focus, decision making, tactics, action, representation, location, goals) in contrast to the politics it adopts and to movements in other countries?

Is the USSF taking the lead from the worlds most oppressed peoples?

Does the USSF perpetuate “1st” world privilege?

How will the USSF directly address the US’s role in internal and global oppression?

2. Is this truely a peoples gathering or an organizers gathering?

Who is this really for? Who is benefiting from the USSF? Organizers and their organizations or communities?

3. How many resources are going into the USSF?

How much does it cost to put on the forum? Who pays the price? Where does the $ come from? Where does the money go? (corporate hotels, airlines, restaurants?)

How much money will my organization invest or divert from other projects for my participation in the USSF?


4. What other ways can those resources be used more effectively in my community?

5. What can the most effective thing be that my community can benefit from my participation at the USSF?

How is the USSF going to be supportive of the issues/work i’m doing in my community? Is it critical to your work?

6. Is my participation at the USSF based upon a critical need?

7. Is there another way to achieve the same results by not going to the USSF?


8. Have Indigenous Peoples of the original land that Detroit is on been involved in the process to bring the USSF?

What is my commitment to Indigenous People’s struggles who’s land I’m on? How are Indigenous Peoples being tokenized?

9. What do they really mean by “Another US is Necessary”?

How does creating another US address its colonial roots and history?

10. How does this forum challenge existing power structures?

What are ways that the USSF direclty challenges the state? What are ways that it upholds it?


11. How are young people being included in the dialogue throughout the forum?

What opportunities are there for younger people and/or elders and organizers for socializing that don’t involve parties with alcohol?

How are youth meaningfully involved in the decision making/planning processes?

How are youth tokenized?


12. How are the USSF workshops and speakers addressing root causes?

13. How are the actions planned at the USSF going to be effectively intervening with the issues?


14. What is the culture of the USSF?

Historically? What’s projected? What’s assumed? What’s practiced?

15. How are the organizers planning to address co-optation that happens within the movement?

If this forum is looking at strategies and strategizing does this really include a balanced dialogue of diverse tactics?

16. What can I do to ensure that issues and people wont be tokenized?

How is the USSF identifying the marginalized and how are they truly represented?

17. Who am I representing at the USSF?

18. How is who I’m representing at the USSF going to be meaningful to my community?

19. Does the USSF challenge movement vanguardism?

20. Who really is behind the USSF?

Who is the National Planning Committee (NPC) and why aren’t they upfront about their membership?

21. Who has the most to gain from the USSF?

22. What is the relationship to detroit or is it just a movement hotspot?

How is Detroit benefitting?

23. Who chooses the main themes and topics to be presented and represented at the USSF?

How is it decided upon what issues are more important than others?


24. How is the non-profit industrial complex reinforced by the USSF?

25. How am I paying for my trip to the USSF? Organizational, foundation, or donor funds?

Are the funds I’m diverting or additionally raising from my org/community calculated with the overall expenses of the USSF?

26. If I wasn’t getting paid, if it wasn’t a free trip, and I didn’t get to recreate, would I need to be there?

27. Who are the funders of the USSF?

Who is the USSF accountable to as a forum?

Who are the organizers of the USSF accountable to?


28. What are the true ecological costs of the USSF?

29. How will my choice of travel to, and consumption at the USSF compound with the effects of an estimated 20,000 people?

Does the USSF’s carbon footprint balance the impacts on Global Warming?

Will purchasing carbon offsets really mitigate the environmental impacts?


30. How will my participation at the USSF be effective towards getting justice for my issue or community?



Please forward these questions to your contacts, your organization, and anyone else who may be interested in the USSF.
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3 responses to “Questions to Ask Yourself (and Others) Before Going to the 2010 USSF:

  1. x

    it’s pretty funny that you ask “Is this truely a peoples gathering or an organizers gathering?”, meanwhile your questions need a fuckin glossary to be intelligible to anyone who’s not an academic. Or maybe you’re answering your own question…

  2. Lance

    I’m a life-long Detroiter, and a community organizer in the city. I’m planning to attend the USSF this year, in order to network with other organizers and groups working on local issues. I’m excited to meet new people, and to learn about the work that they’re doing, and hopefully to apply some new skills to my organizing in Detroit. All that said, I’m concerned about many of the same questions this blog asks, regarding the motives and identities of the organizers, the potential impact of the conference, and questions about whose interests this conference really serves.

    Of course, Detroit is in the midst of great struggle – and this struggle has received a good deal of media focus, lately; but the fact that the forum seems to be focused so strongly on Detroit as a model for the failures of capitalism, imperialism, and the like makes me angry as hell. Why doesn’t this conference, instead, cast Detroit as a model of resilience, staunch organizing, tight-knit community, or even fertility?

    I became an organizer in this city when I was fifteen years old. Before that, my mother worked as a school social worker and my dad worked with the local food bank. As a life-long Detroiter, I have always been exposed to dedicated organizers and activists – folks who wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to claim those titles, but who do much more for their local community than many of the self-righteous, self-proclaimed “radical activists” I’ve come across.

    What I hope Forum attendees will keep in mind, during their stay, is that the Forum is not going to benefit Detroit nearly as much as Detroit is going to benefit the forum. That’s not to say that I don’t think the forum has the potential to act in strong, positive ways. I believe the USSF will be a catalyst for great dialogues, a good networking opportunity, play host to some cool workshops, and be an ultimately positive experience, for a lot of people, in a lot of ways.

    That in mind, it’s a conference that has been marketed much more heavily in explicitly “radical” communities and spaces than it has been to the average person in Detroit – most of whom have no idea that the conference is coming to our city, if they’ve even heard of it, before (which most haven’t). By virtue of living in Detroit, most people become activists, in their own way – it’s close to unavoidable. And, although the recession has cast Detroit center stage, as an example of resilience, this is nothing new for us. Detroit has been a sight of activism and radical organizing since WAY before “the recession” was something the average American was talking about, and should be recognized, as such.

    So come to the forum, and come to our city, and I’m excited to meet you, and learn about the awesome, necessary work that you’re doing. But also, come with the understanding that this city is strong and resilient, on it’s own. We don’t need outsiders to come in and turn our home into a model of someone else’s idea of a radical movement. We’re doing just fine, thank you. I want to learn about you, and what you’re doing, but I don’t want you to look only at the aspects of Detroit that can be characterized by social, economic, environmental, or other injustices – please, look also at the beauty, strength, creativity, and passion that comprises our community. When you’re here, please avoid making sweeping statements and conclusions about what it’s like to live here unless that’s an experience you’ve lived, yourself. When questions about the city come up – about what the problems are, what the solutions out to be, or how to get there, listen more than you talk. Detroit has a lot to say, and we shouldn’t have to fight, in our own home, to say it.

    Safe travels, and I hope you enjoy your time at the Forum, and in Detroit. I’m excited to meet you.

    If you’re interested in continuing this conversation, please contact me at

  3. joel

    Please explain your position. I can see you have asked some intriguing questions and your leaflet was the best of the gazillions I collected at the USSF, but your complete position is only hinted at by the questions. Thanks.

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