Other Worlds staff and allies were thrilled to spend last week at the U.S. Social Forum, together with 10,000 other organizers, rabble-rousers, and social movements who are building new worlds across the continent. The gathering was bursting with environmental, economic, social, and political alternatives, from members of new worker cooperatives growing in Detroit and Cleveland, to water warriors defending clean water from pollution and privatization, to housing activists who are taking back the land across the country.
Jean-Jean, six, is part of the pack of kids that races to meet me each time I arrive at one internally displaced people’s camp in Port-au-Prince. Jean-Jean is usually at the front, all flashing eyes and big toothy grin, out-shouting the others or engaging in some ridiculous antic for my attention.
On one visit, Jean-Jean’s mother appeared dragging by the arm a very different little boy, slow and sad. Jean-Jean feebly raised his eyes to me; the whites were just one shade this side of mustard-yellow. Hepatitis.
“How long has he been like this?” I asked, trying to mask my panic.
The international community (here referring to nations and international organizations) has pledged or given $9.9 billion in relief and reconstruction aid to Haiti, since the earthquake on January 12, 2010. Citizens and non-profit agencies of foreign countries have provided billions more. The aid is many times the size of Haiti’s annual budget, which was $1.97 billion for the 2009-10 fiscal year.
Doudou Pierre is on the coordinating committee of the National Haitian Network for Food Sovereignty and Food Security (RENHASSA). He is also a member of the International Coordinating Committee for Food Sovereignty, organized by Vía Campesina, the worldwide coalition of small farmer organizations. In addition, he is a member of the National Peasant Movement of the Papay Congress and the Peasant Movement for Acul du Nord. This week he will be heading North to the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit.
For many kids in urban America heading to school each morning can feel more like heading to the jailhouse. In many schools students can’t even get in the front door of without feeling like common criminals, passing through metal detectors, facing pat downs, and expecting police to respond to small disciplinary issues. Luckily young people know they deserve better and are working with adults to create alternative discipline models. In New York City a group of students joined the New York Civil Liberties Union to document to tell their own stories and share their experience with the frightening “school to prison pipeline” phenomenon in Schoolhouse to Jailhouse.
From Nikki Rose
Crete's Culinary Sanctuaries is a grassroots eco-agritourism network. We organize seminars to celebrate and help protect our cultural and natural heritage. We share our heritage through the window of traditional, healthy cuisine and sustainable organic farming practices.
A slogan of Haiti’s popular movement – a grouping of many organized sectors, from community-based journalists, to cooperative street vendors, to children’s rights advocates – is ‘Another Haiti Is Possible.’ Most Haitians we speak with, whatever their sector or political persuasion, have very clear ideas of what a different Haiti could look like and what would be required for its construction. Here are some of those ideas.
“We’re for seeds that have never been touched by multinationals. In our advocacy, we say that seeds are the patrimony of humanity. No one can control them,” said Doudou Pierre, national coordinating committee member of the National Haitian Network for Food Sovereignty and Food Security (RENHASSA), in a recent interview. “We reject Monsanto and their GMOs. GMOs would be the extermination of our people.” A march is being held in Haiti today for World Environment Day, called by at least four major national peasant organizations and one international one. The march’s purpose is to protest the new arrival of Monsanto seeds. The day’s slogans include, “Long live native seeds” and “Down with Monsanto. Down with GMO and hybrid seeds.”
The U.S. and U.N. have based their plan for Haiti’s redevelopment on the expansion of the assembly industry. Toward this end, the U.S. Congress passed legislation last month which would expand benefits and income for U.S. investors yet again. Haitian workers will continue to earn $3.09 a day.
From Nandita Dinesh
I am a theatre maker from India, and have recently finished my M.A. in Performance Studies from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. My work primarily revolves around the use of theatre as a tool for social commentary, and as such, I have been part of projects in India, the US, Northern Ireland, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, Uganda, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe.
Over the last few years, my work has led me to think a lot about connecting Latin America, Africa and South Asia via the medium of theatre. In order to do this, I have designed theatre workshops that connect these three regions; and I'd be happy to send more details about these workshops to anyone interested.