Monday, July 16, 2007

Liberating Gender & Sexuality

Audio from the "Liberating Gender and Sexuality" plenary at last month's U.S. Social Forum is finally available here. Thanks to Jessica Hoffmann for passing this along.

As I noted in an earlier report back, I felt that the evening plenaries (even the best of them like the Gender & Sexuality discussion) could have been formatted in a more thoughtful way so as to move the discussion beyond just another series of presentations. However, im passing on this audio specifically so that folks can hear Andy Smith's talk which was one of the highlights of the forum.

Moderator: Suzanne Pharr
Speakers: Andrea Smith, Mia Mingus, Loretta Ross, Imani Henry, and Betita Martinez

(The plenary begins after a pre-show by participants in the Children's Social Forum.)


Peter Brogan said...

Hey Max,
I think your assesment of the evening plenaries is right on, but I'm wondering if you have any ideas about how they could have been structured differently to help move the discussions forward in a solid way. I'd love to hear any thoughts you might have.

I thought it was unfortunate that the only plenary that allowed space for comments and questions was the first one on Katrina and Gulf Coast reconstruction. Not sure if any of them moved the discussion forward much but I was glad to have heard what folks had to say.

max said...

Yeah, i personally did not see any other plenaries where there was a Q & A option, but even if there was something like that on all of them I dont think they would have been much better.

Few ways I have seen these kinds of things structured in more dynamic ways--

1. Having a facilitated conversation on stage, with possible short opening pieces, but generally keeping the focus on a dialogue.

2. Having the whole plenary introduced with some of the main themes by one speaker and then having the rest of the focus be more like "so lets figure out how to move forward together on this issue" or "how to take advantage of the USSF to make new headway" or ideally "here are some concrete campaigns,alliances, coalitions, local efforts that have been taking root over the past 6-12 months- lets share and talk about some of these models".

3. Instead of having two seperate Saturday night sessions, finding a way to have had those at other times and leaving the final evening for one large strategy session with a mix of perspectives, leading to a piece where the audience is able to get involved in some way.

Now obviously its difficult to structure much interactive discussion when your in a huge auditorium with chairs that didnt move, but people have figured out ways to do it.

It seemed like in many ways while they were able to make new breakthroughs in terms of membership composition of the Social Forum crowd, they stuck to basically the same WSF model which included the evening plenary structure.

Perhaps that would be the next logical piece to be improved upon for 2010?