This initiative responds to a felt need coming from different organizations and forums - in this dramatic moment - to break out of silos, to converge and strategize around common threats and aspirations, and to build shared popular narratives rooted in the concrete experiences of communities around the world. The aspiration is to build more and stronger links among social movements with different entry points to the same struggle – food sovereignty, extractive industries, infrastructure projects, violence against women and others – and more effective and respectful collaboration between them and engaged academics. We seek to deepen true experiences of democracy while fighting collectively at home, in our neighborhoods, our territories, and the globe to build people´s sovereignty.
The first step was a collective and inclusive process of planning a three-day workshop that took place in Siena, Italy on 22-24 October 2018, on ‘Seeking answers from below to the contemporary crisis of democracy: food sovereignty and people’s sovereignty’. Discussions focused on three themes: ‘changes in the world order and their impact on democracy’, ‘people’s sovereignty and the future of democracy’, and ‘strategies moving forward’. We started off by exchanging communities’ experiences of resistance and construction in order to build solidly grounded networks of understanding and action, and moved on from there to identify routes towards and tools for convergence and solidarity. A report on the Siena workshop is available here.
The initiative is a collective, inclusive space that is intended to collaborate with communities and movements who are resisting corporate violence and constructing people’s sovereignty. There are currently some 40 individuals who initiated this effort coming from all regions of the world (Please consult the list here. It is a space open to others who wish to join and actively involve.
The initiative is currently working on four activities that we agreed on at the Siena workshop, which are presented below. Groups of volunteers have undertaken to carry these activities forward, periodically reporting back to and involving the entire people’s sovereignty network membership. These volunteer working groups are open to others who wish to join and contribute.
The web lab creates a space where social movements, activists, and scholars can share experiences and ideas among themselves and with a wider public, undertake collective analyses, develop concepts, strategies and activities and engage with other existing solidarity networks and initiatives. The web lab intentionally builds from and prioritizes grassroots experiences. It is a platform open to Siena workshop participants plus other social movements, practitioners, scholars and activists. It provides an arena for discussions and continuous encounters, using digital tools to maintain and build momentum between face-to-face meetings. TNI acts as the legal entity in charge of the domain.
15 interviews have been conducted with social movement activists to collect their experience on the ground and the strategies their communities are putting into practice to work towards people’s sovereignty. More will be recorded in the future. These interviews are being posted on the web lab as they are finalized. The list of the interviews is available here.
We are preparing a series of articles on themes that were identified during the Siena workshop as being key aspects of building people’s sovereignty. The articles are being written by small groups of social movement and academic activists in order to put into practice the kind of respectful and effective collaboration we are advocating. The list of the articles that will be published as a special forum in the Globalizations review is available here.
We meet periodically and are planning the next face-to-face meeting workshop in 2020 in Helsinki, Finland.