Like you, we work at the things we do because we believe a better world is possible. Moved by the urgencies of the global situation some of us have come together in exploratory gatherings, held in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, during which we shared experiences as members of a multiplicity of movements. We are anti-globalization activists, rank-and-file union members, students, anti-death penalty activists , peace movement activists, members of past and present movements for social and economic justice and civil rights, labor movement organizers and officials, and many others. We are people of different ages and backgrounds who come from varied Rust Belt locations, such as Toledo, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit, Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Chicago, Youngstown and Philadelphia. We share common traditions of participatory democracy and self-activity.
Encouraged by what we have learned about each other, and by the sense of community we have created, we are determined to broaden the scope of our solidarity with others who work to make the planet a better place. WE ARE NOT CREATING A NEW ORGANIZATION.
We invite you to participate in a movement-building conference at Kent State University, May 31-June 2, 2002. We envision a movement in which we organize and support one another by reaching out to each other horizontally, rather than indirectly through representatives and policy-makers of centralized bodies or hierarchies. As members of diverse movements, our beliefs regarding methods for achieving change may often differ, but surely, because we share core values, ideals, and hopes for a better world, we can find ways to address issues that are important to us all. We share a collective interest in the welfare of future generations and the welfare of the planet that can transcend and transform our differences. Like you, we seek a politics that touches the heart and turns the heart. We believe in accompanying one another, in resisting the tendency to make our ideals into dogmas, as we struggle to change the world.
Help us move toward a convergence of our separated movements and struggles, and possibly, toward a new document similar to the Port Huron Statement created by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) forty years ago. Bring your needs to the conference: what do you need to learn from others in other movements that you can take back to enrich your daily work? Bring to the conference what you can contribute: what are your stories, your experience, and your knowledge?
We have all been to innumerable conferences the agendas for which were fixed far in advance. Speakers whom we did not select made 55-minute presentations followed by five minutes for us to “discuss” what we had heard.
We wish to attempt something different. As you will gather from the registration form that follows, the conference at Kent State will begin with supper on Friday May 31 and end with lunch on Sunday June 2. Friday evening and Sunday morning will be “plenaries”: times when we will all be together. During the day Saturday we want to have workshops, but as the second page of the registration form makes clear, workshops that you will help to define. Saturday
*Port Huron was the meeting place at which a statement of vision and program was created in 1962 by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).
evening we’ll have a party, when Mike Stout, former grievance committee chairman at the U.S. Steel Homestead Works and singer/songwriter, will lead us in singing and celebration. Please bring your posters, button collections, and art work to decorate the space in which we will gather. Please bring your instruments and songs you can perform (and may have composed!).
We envision the conference workshops as times when smaller groups can clarify particular themes of our common struggle, and form mini-networks of folks who will want to work together in the future. Here are some of the questions that we believe are on many of our minds:
How can we resist the war system that surrounds us?
What have we learned in the past forty years about building a movement made up of persons of different races and genders?
When we say “another world is possible,” what do we mean? How can we begin, now, to create an alternative to capitalism?
How should we be preparing for the meeting of capitalist leaders in western Canada late in June?
Are demonstrators at big anti-globalization events burning out?
Are the authorities becoming more sophisticated and effective in their response?
What do demonstrators do between demonstrations?
What strategy should underlie our labor work?
What do we visualize as the role of independent local unions, of local unions that are part of existing national unions, of ad hoc central labor bodies?
How can the 90 per cent of workers not in unions take collective action and establish their rights?
A number of resource people are available to help with the workshops, such as Alexis Buss of the Industrial Workers of the World; Peter Linebaugh, co-author of The Many-Headed Hydra; Tom Laney, who works for Ford in the Twin Cities; and a representative of the Charleston Five.
So here are things that you can do to help:
1. Fill out the registration form, and send it to the Lynds together with your check made out to Kent State University, being sure to fill out the questions about workshops thoughtfully.
2. Plan to attend a final planning meeting at 12 noon on Sunday, May 19, 2002, at 310 South Ashley Street in Ann Arbor. This meeting will finalize the agenda for the conference.
3. Remember that a process of this kind can only succeed if “every one is an organizer.” Make copies of this letter and the registration form that accompanies it, and circulate them to your friends and colleagues with a note as to why you think they should be at Kent State.
Tony Budak, Dominic Caruso, Alan Haber, Staughton and Alice Lynd, Mike Stout
Snail mail: the Lynds, 1694 Timbers Court, Niles OH 44446
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (Budak), email@example.com (Caruso), firstname.lastname@example.org (Haber), email@example.com (Lynds), firstname.lastname@example.org (Stout)
Please complete and return this registration form by Wednesday, May 15, 2002.
Housing Costs: $19 each night/Friday & Saturday night total $38.00
(Leebrick Hall, check-in time 1 pm – 5 pm)
Food, Conference Room Rental and Parking Pass: $57.00
Includes Friday dinner, 3 meals on Saturday, and
Sunday breakfast and lunch
Total Conference Cost (if registered by May 15th): $95.00
On site conference registration: $100.00
Yes, I will be attending the conference and will need lodging.
______ Single room preferred ______ Share room with ____________________
Yes, I will be attending the conference, but will not need lodging.
Friday, May 31, 2002
1:00 - 5:00 pm Check-in at Tri Towers Lobby
5:00 - 7:00 pm Dinner
7:00 -10:00 pm Plenary
8:00 - 9:00 am Breakfast
9:00 – Noon Workshops
Noon - 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 – 5:00 pm Workshops
5:00 - 7:00 pm Dinner
7:00 - 10:00 pm Party
8:00 - 9:00 Breakfast
9:00 - Noon Plenary
Noon - 1:00 pm Lunch (check-out by 1 pm)
What are you working on that you would like to discuss with others in a workshop?
What other workshops would you attend if others would like them too?
Please make checks payable to: Please mail check and registration form to:
Niles, OH 44446-3941
For information about accommodations, you may contact:
Mark Weber at (330-672-2962) or