RIPESS-NA (Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy-N. America) initiated the process of organizing this forum. RIPESS-NA members include these national networks: the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network (SEN), the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNET) and the Chantier de l’économie Sociale in Quebec.
While RIPESS-NA has taken the lead in initiating this effort, we look forward to working in partnership and collaboration with like-minded actors and allies. We have formed a Coordinating Committee that we are continuing to expand. Current members include the above-named groups, the Democracy Collaborative, the New Economy Coalition, and Detroit organizations, including: the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, the Center for Community Based Enterprise (C2BE), the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), and the Conscious Community Cooperative.
RATIONALE, LOGISTICS AND SOME CONSIDERATIONS
There are multiple motivations for holding the first continental Social Solidarity Economy Forum in North America, including:
Visibility and recognition: A continental forum is a chance to promote visibility and recognition of our work, as well as a chance to deepen and widen networks through targeted and strategic outreach (see diversity below).
Global vision: The Forum is an opportunity to build a common understanding about the solidarity economy, while at the same time respecting the differences grounded in the specific history, culture, language and economic/political realities of different places. RIPESS’ Global Vision statement provides a starting point for discussion and exploration. We hope to explore in greater depth important yet underdeveloped concepts and realities such as the role of the solidarity economy in addressing issues pertaining to race/ethnicity/culture, class, gender, rural/urban development; the macro-economy; and the environment. This is also an opportunity to explore the common ground between the solidarity economy and other frameworks such as community wealth building, the social economy, green, popular, community, sharing and cooperative economies. This topic would be well suited for a plenary with breakouts in order to foster a common base of understanding.
Workshops and Preparatory convenings/webinars: Workshops can be used to advance knowledge and work on issues. For example, single or multiple workshops could focus on:
- Policies: In the United States, we are doing a scan of local solidarity economy policies and are planning a series of webinars, and a meeting to lay the groundwork for a track of workshops on public policies. CCEDNET, which tracks Canadian policy and RELIESS, which monitors public policy for the SSE worldwide have lots to contribute as well.
- Education: the RIPESS SSE Education Working Group is conducting an inventory of solidarity economy educational materials and compiling a list of educators who are engaged in popular, alternative and formal education. We are planning webinars in English, Spanish and French and hope that these will lay a foundation for a meeting at the Forum.
- Mapping: we can showcase the new United States solidarity economy map and the existing Canadian/Quebec ones, along with the RIPESS global map.
- Research: RIPESS discussed the question of developing an academic network, though we seek to adjust that to include community-based researchers as well as academics.
- Best Practices: a wide array of workshops on leading examples of solidarity economy innovation in production, distribution and exchange, consumption, finance and governance.
- Networking: strengthen the North American solidarity economy network
AND LOTS MORE
Diversity: A high priority is to ensure that we have a diverse group of participants in terms of class and identity (race, ethnicity, indigenous, LGBTQ, age, gender, people w. disabilities and so forth). We will provide templates/tool-kits for organizations to do their own grassroots fundraising and provide some limited coordination support for caravanning. We anticipated implementing a sliding scale for registration and are committed to organizing for the provision of free or low cost solidarity housing.