Submitted by admin on Tue, 02/05/2008 - 16:13.

The Independent Progressive Politics Network (IPPN) works from what, at the surface, may seem contradictory beliefs that 1) the current political system (especially at the national level) can do little to affect change for those most in need of justice in the US and the world because both the Democratic and Republican parties place corporate interests above all else and 2) grassroots driven electoral participation with equal access and clean elections is essential in addressing the ongoing injustices rooted in racism, economic and environmental oppression that the national parties continue to ignore.

Our goal is the transformation of this country through the unity of its peoples in active opposition to racism, sexism, homophobia, economic class exploitation, age discrimination and all other forms of oppression and discrimination. We are committed to the involvement of people of color, women, workers and young people in key leadership positions within IPPN and within the independent progressive movement. We provide written materials and publish a quarterly newspaper, reach out to new organizations and activists, maintain a web site and electronic discussion lists, organize conferences and engage in activities that further these objectives.

IPPN joined the National Planning Committee (NPC) for the United States Social Forum (USSF, the Forum) in December 2006. In the months that followed trips to Oakland, Chicago, Baltimore, DC, and Philadelphia focused on outreach and organizing as ongoing work in the Southeast continued. We helped organize workshops through United for Peace and Justice and with IPPN member groups to highlight the need to participate in the USSF and IPPN Summit. We also worked to bring the voices of grassroots leaders and groups to the planning process.

The Forum was intended to be an open space to build stronger relationships among groups working for fundamental national change. The NPC acknowledged that strategy, while needed and forthcoming, had to be built on the establishment of effective communication and trusting relationships. IPPN’s ability to build effective strong relationships and address community building continues to be a benefit to the NPC.

I met some great organizers and community leaders doing great work across the country. These are a few of the remarkable people I got to know during my work on the US Social Forum

Cindy Wiesner – Cindy works at the Miami Worker’s Center. She struck me right away at my first NPC meeting when she began to facilitate a meeting with style and just as strong a process as I would use. She had the kind of consistent energy and poise that I rarely manage, so I paid keen attention. Cindy is a strong, caring and compassionate leader among the NPC. She managed to bring needed creativity and levity at important times and could help us find political unity even after too many hours of meeting when the afternoon seemed to linger. I look forward to learning more from Cindy as the NPC plans for 2010.

Carlos Fernandez – is part of Jobs with Justice and works in the Chicago Office, hosted of the NPC’s March ’07 meeting. Carlos served with me on the Concert Committee. We shared many challenges and had cause for much creative problem solving together. This was a hard process. More than once one or both of us felt overwhelmed but with the help of our other committee members and the excellent USSF staff, both major concerts for the event were enjoyable, fun experiences for all attending.

Loretta Young – Loretta heads Sister Song in Atlanta. Loretta and I met years ago and have been to a few of the same meetings at the same time over the years but never worked together before this experience. We all need a Loretta in our lives. She’s seriously competent yet doesn’t take things, including the gravity of the work we all do for justice, or herself, too seriously. And it’s rare indeed to find someone who sees and values the many expressions of love and dissent in the world while being absolutely unyielding around political issues and quality work.

Josué Guillén – was my hero of the day more days than i can remeber over the past many months. He’s brillant with everything technological, has needed insight and sharp group skills. Thourgh the Praxis Project he works to build partnerships with local groups to influence policies and address the underlying, systemic causes of community problems. Josué was one of the folks who brought time in working on the USSF and had much to teach, which he did with grace, humor and patience.

Ora Knowell – is one of those “lead by example” people. She’s bold and brave with the drive and persistence fueled by a vision of justice on the streets of Oakland for all young people through the West Oakland Fatherless Children Foundation. While her work is rooted in the needs of her neighborhoods and neighborhoods like hers, Ora makes the connections to these horrors and the ongoing injustice the US exports internationally.

Tamarah Loftin – is a 17 year old fourth generation public assistance child. Hers has been a life with little exposure to models of how to bring needed changes to the area she lives in near downtown Atlanta. Tamarah stood out among the young people who signed up after a talk I gave to recruit youth volunteers. I saw promise in her eyes and heard hope in her voice as she asked about IPPN and the USSF. I know when I saw her toddler along beside her that she had motivation to act for something different for her son. Over the next few weeks Tamarah exceeded my expectations as she took the lead to organize her peers to recruit other volunteers. She and her friends are all needed in this work.

Anna Whitehat – brought insight, needed skepticism and historical perspective to the Backbone Campaign’s Progressive Cabinet meeting. As I heard her speak I felt that the project would be stronger with her inclusion. If this project is to realize its potential a solid long term view –both long term of our past and long term for our future must be fully considered. This deep consideration with clear vision and intention may be among Anna’s gift for this work. It will be an honor to build community with her.

Brandon Lacy Campos – I first spent time with Brandon at the NPC meeting in Chicago and I’m extremely pleased that he is now a colleague as we are both new Fellows with Liberty Tree Foundation for Democratic Revolution. I came to count on Brandon’s humor and perspective over the days of the NPC meeting in Chicago. He’s a 21st century Renaissance man who performs, writes, and is an activist and fundraiser. He certainly does the Green Party proud.