Monday, February 27, 2006

NCOR 2006 [Feb 3-5]

We had been hearing reports that the organizers at NCOR were expecting
record numbers and it seems like they were not dissapointed. One organizer
told me a few days agothat they estimated the number between 1800-2000,
which would easily make it the largest NCOR to date, now in its 9th year. One
of the things you notice right away (really every time you come) is how
young and white the crowd is. It is safe to say that the attendees are at
least 80-90% white if not even more. It is something that NCOR has
struggled with over the years and that they have made significant progress
on in recent conferences but this time with an all new organizing crew (of
really young students) the contrast was pretty stark. Still with such huge
numbers in attendence there were easily a few hundred young radicals of
color there, more then almost any other annual conference in the US.
There are some larger discussions going on within the collective of how to
make NCOR more inclusive in the future, including moving it off of campus
and a few other strategies but i think the main thing is just to build on the
positive steps it has made over the years including:

- inviting better and more diverse speakers, especially from groups of people
who are not usually invited to present their ideas at 'activist conferences.'
- tailoring more panels and workshops towards things that connect with peoples
everyday lives, especially within the inner-cities (gentrification, public schools,
hip-hop activism, other forms of cultural resistance etc.)
- getting together a crew of multi-racial organizers who reflect a broader and more
diverse life experience and put more focus on local outreach in the DC area,
a city with fairly progressive politics and a majority Black and brown population.

Its not about getting down on the organizers, some of whom i met and was very
impressed with. But it is about getting serious about some of these things and
really taking steps to make sure they are implemented over the next few years beyond
the lip service. I dont think its going to be possible to move NCOR off of American
Universities campus for a while just because that is where the financial base comes
from at the moment. It would however be a huge achievement if in 2-4 years
future NCOR collectives could make that happen, because in the end these things
do need to move outside of the University setting.

On Saturday we were a part of three panels, one on 'The Economics of
Independent Media' which drew about 60-70 people, one on 'pre-figurative
and strategic politics' (which drew standing room only 60-70 people, and
the final one on 'The Revolution Will Not Be Funded' (one of the most
popular sessions of the conference) which drew around 200 people. Although
one of our speakers for the later session couldnt make it at the last
minute, Ije Ude from Sista ii Sista who came up from New Tork with us did
an amazing presentation. From what we heard afterwards people were really
into the discussion and were looking forward to continuing to develop the analysis
locally. As the 'Non-Profit Capital of the World' the issue of the
relationships between non-profits, NGOs and social movements really
resonated with DC activists.

Sunday morning was our big New Orleans panel which included great
presentations by Tameka of CR New Orleans, Mayaba also with CR NO and
Peoples Hurricane Project, and Jordan. The session was facilitated by Zein
and included a local housing activist from DC named Linda Leaks. The
session was fairly well attending with about 100 people in the audience
but i think i was personally expecting more people to come out for such an
important topic. Francesca presented the following session on 'Preaching
to the converted, the role of progressive media and social movements'
which from what i heard went really well. Late afternoon there was the
'all-star' Palestine panel that Rami put together and facilitated which included
our friends Uda, Rafeef, Adam, Mohammed and Ora (among others). The
room (which was small) was completely packed with about 60 people in attendence.
I could only stay for the first half which was excellent but im hoping to get some
audio of this workshop (as well as others) up on the blog or Left Turn website as
soon as possible.

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