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(en) US, Detroit, MI. SDS* National Convention 27-30th July 2007

Date Sun, 15 Jul 2007 13:32:56 +0300

Friday, July 27th – Monday, July 30th Wayne State University Detroit, MI Students for a Democratic Society invites you to be a part of history this summer, at our 2nd National Convention since reforming on Martin Luther King Day, 2006. --- In less than a year-and-a-half, SDS has grown to thousands of members at hundreds of chapters across the U.S. and represents one of the largest radical multi-issue voices on the American student left. SDS has proven itself to be an emerging force against imperialism, leading targeted actions to shut down the war machine from New York to Washington State. SDS is also combating the multi-layered forms of oppression that exist within our organization and the society at large, including but not limited to class, heterosexism, racism, and sexism. SDS incorporates a vision of environmental and climate justice, working to reverse the trend of ecological destruction that threatens the planet. And through it all SDS remains committed to participatory democracy as not only a goal but as our basic operating principle.

As last year’s National Convention resolved, the main priority this July will be to decide on issues of national structure, meaning the way that SDS chapters will be linked together to form a coherent whole. SDSers from all over the nation will gather to resolve those issues, during four days of food, fun, networking, strategy and training.

The burning question this summer is “How do we organize ourselves?” How do we effectively build student power, fight oppression and the militarization of society, ensure internal democracy and at the same time have a functional framework to support the thousands of new students that will join SDS in the coming year?

To answer these questions, as the old SDS saying goes, we need to “Let the People Decide!” And as a member of SDS, that means YOU!

Here’s 2 easy steps you can take to participate in this conversation and help SDS decide on national structure:

1. Come to Detroit this July (and bring your chapter!!!)
2. Send your ideas and proposals for how SDS should be structured, *early* so they can be circulated and read by SDSers across the country before the convention. In the meantime, brainstorm!

The 2007 SDS National Convention may become a pivotal event for our generation, not unlike what the 1962 Port Huron convention became for the generation that preceded us. The world faces some of the same grave challenges that it did in the ‘60s, the stakes may be higher today, but the struggle continues. Come help turn the tide this July. See you in Detroit!

There are going to be a large variety of workshops, guided discussions and other fun activities at this year’s national convention!

Because of scarce time, resources and the importance of this years convention, all workshops have to be relevant to either of the following concepts.

1. Power Sharing. Students for a Democratic Society is full of people with a wide range of experience levels and a lot of political diversity. Discussions on how to build a horizontal, accountable tructure in which people learn to share power across differences in experience, capacity, and ability are really important. This is about process - how to keep our eyes on the prize (a sustainable powerful democratic organization) and make compromises with one another to move forward. When people get defensive and feel the need to debate their positions on broad ideological terms, it is often hard to step out and think about what is best for SDS, if that means a personal compromise. Without adequate framing around power sharing, we will never make decisions that people felt they meaningfully participated in.
2. Anti-Oppression. SDS is full of a lot of new organizers, and is very demographically white, issues of race and gender are at the forefront of most of our meetings and activities. Men tend to dominate meetings, people of color often feel marginalized, and many folks do not share a common vocabulary or analysis on issues of structural oppression. The last national conference was alienating to many folks because of the thoughtlessness around issues of race. These sessions would ground and underpin the convention so that we have a common language to at least talk about the issues so that our proposals and debates can be more productive. They would be geared towards creating and inclusive internal culture where everyone feels empowered to participate. They would also help contextualize deeper questions we will need to address about our own identity as SDS and how we see ourselves relating to the larger movement(s).
3. How Change is Made. This part is not about ideology or theory. This means basic organizing 101. A lot of folks are brand new to organizing in SDS, and we should be offering folks lots of tools to give people a coherent context of what movement building and organizing actually are. This would include things like a bit of context-setting for the anatomy of current social movements in the US and how students fit into them (or how they currently don’t).

These criteria are broad enough to include a very wide variety of workshops and other activities, but specific enough to provide a specific focus and direction for the convention. Anybody is free to propose a workshop of their own that they can facilitate, that they feel meets any of these criteria. Just visit the workshop proposals page and fill out a form! All workshop proposals are handled by the scheduling working-group.
* antiauthoritarian anticapitalist network
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