They also explored the future of campaigning: the social forum experience is sharing ideas and mutual support. In the morning six workshops [Environment, global warming, community struggles and future plans for Manchester/ Peace, anti-war/ Migrants and asylum seekers, freedom to stay, freedom to work/ Health and public involvement/ Gender and sexuality/ Psychogeography and transforming the experience of the city] brought campaigners and interested members of the public together in a non-party-political atmosphere to discuss radical alternatives and look at ways campaigns can work together to better understand how complex issues are interrelated and how the campaigns themselves can benefit from mutual aid and resource sharing.
The Campaigners’ Fair involved almost 30 different campaigns. The afternoon started with films of local protest actions and photos of a year of social forum anti-war work and campaigning, then stallholders explained their aims and distributed information while brief microphone spots gave further publicity to those who wanted to speak. The event ended with reports from the morning workshops, calls for action, announcements of upcoming events and other useful information. A number of people continued their discussions at The Basement, the vegan cafe and radical library (with bookstall and exhibitions) at 24 Lever Street near Piccadilly Gardens.
All campaigners and people who think another world is possible interested are invited to a Social Forum on Thursday 28 April (7.30 p.m. at the Friends’ Meeting House, Mount Street, central Manchester). The meeting will further develop links and ideas from the workshops and fair, laying the basis for collective actions.
The social forum idea is a process of change. It is important to know where we want to go, but even more important that we get there in the right way. The journey is an exploration of change and possibility, backed by the knowledge that another world is possible because ordinary people like us are capable of doing things differently. We will not wait to be told what to do by experts, bosses and self-serving politicians, nor will we beg for crumbs from their table: we will educate ourselves for change and build those revolutionary changes into our own lives now.
Sometimes the small things matter most. For example, refreshments were on offer throughout the day, with Fairtrade tea and coffee from the Unicorn cooperative grocer’s in Chorlton and an excellent vegetarian/vegan lunch. No supermarkets made any money out of the event! Food and drink were paid for by donation, which meant that people on low or no income ate for free, and the rooms at the Friends’ Meeting House were likewise funded by collections on the day. How we live today tells us how our lives will be tomorrow. Ethical, environmentally-responsible living is the only way to guarantee our survival on this planet. Cooperation is no longer a luxury – it is now an essential necessity. Contact Manchester Social Forum at firstname.lastname@example.org