Research and Community Projects
Globalizing Civil Society from the Inside Out
Globalizing Civil Society is a joint project of the Center for Justice, Tolerance and Community and the Inter-American Forum. Described in more detail below, the most recent product of this collaboration is Bringing Globalization Home: Portraits of Popular Education at the Global Local Junction. This report documents how community-based organizations (CBOs) have added their voice to the debate around globalization, profiling four specific popular education efforts to connect the global-local dots though the creative use of curriculum, programs, games, and other tools. Already in distribution, Bringing Globalization Home has been brought to good use, as local CBO's utilized and shared the publication at this year's World Social Forum in Brazil. As a supplement to these profiles, the GCS project has also developed an internet clearinghouse launched in February, 2005, which includes more profiles, downloadable tools, games, and curriculum, and resources such as a bibliography, listings of popular education artists, and links.
In recent years, the social and economic impacts of globalization on community development and the environment has become increasingly apparent to community-based organizations (CBOs) in the U.S. Freer flows of goods and capital has been accompanied by rising workplace inequality and a spiraling competition for profitability that threatens the natural environment. A new global consumer culture celebrates the universality of the buyer and commodifies everything ethnic in advertising even as there is a simultaneous rise in anti-immigrant sentiment.
What is an appropriate local response to these trends? While officials claim that little can be done if we are to remain competitive, mass protest has accompanied the meetings of the WTO in Seattle, Geneva, and elsewhere. The connection of the global and local is being made but the voice of low-income communities in the U.S., particularly those of color, is often underrepresented in the debate.
Yet it is often these communities that are most affected. Recent research suggests that lower-income communities of color were the most negatively impacted by the implementation of the NAFTA agreement. One study tracing the effects of globalization at a local geographic level in Los Angeles found that those communities winning from international trade were 62 percent Anglo while people of color made up 84 percent of those living in the areas most negatively impacted by trade dynamics.
We have been asked by the Ford Foundation to develop and facilitate a process in which the perspective of such affected communities can be better infused into the globalization debate. We are specifically hosting two parallel convenings, one in California and one in Florida, that will:
We are specifically targeting those CBOs looking to understand the local impacts of globalization and devise strategies that build community wealth and power in the context of challenging and changing those impacts. Our definition of this is broad. Examples of this type of organizing might include creating new credit unions to manage remittance flows, creating alternative forms of media to voice local concerns about globalization, responding to toxic threats by targeting the whole global chain of production, setting standards on products and enforcing these in ways that build local industry and protect local environments, devising new strategies for the dissemination of information re the international economy to local groups, working to protect the rights of transnational migrants, developing positive responses by seizing on export opportunities and trade projects, etc.
While we will include select intermediaries that work on information analysis and dissemination, we are particularly interested in the participation of grassroots organizers, some of whom may be just getting involved in challenging transnational dynamics. We hope, in short, for unusual suspects who can better inform what sort of popular education tools might be most effective at engaging local communities and making the global-local link. We are also looking for those who wish to contribute to creating a positive space for transformational leadership, that is, wishing to engage in sharp debate with an eye toward developing a mutual understanding of pro-equity and pro-community responses to globalization.
This effort involves two Centers on opposite coasts of the United States, both based in regions that are being rapidly transformed by both international trade and migration. Both Centers are relatively new and have focused in the past on creating community and transnational forums, conducting social justice research, and providing training and educational opportunities for community leaders.
The East Coast partner, the Inter-American Forum, is a relatively new leadership and policy project dedicated to promoting a dynamic pro-community, pro-equity economic and trade policy agenda at the local, hemispheric and international level. The project is designed to serve as a forum for creative and innovative people dedicated to a) transcending and transforming the increasingly polarized public and policy discourse about globalization, regional economic integration, communities and social equity and b) creating a unique space for developing, highlighting and promoting new visions of trade and economic policy that places social equity, public interest and community at the center of the policy agenda.
The West Coast partner, the Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community, is a research, policy, and education center devoted to issues of social justice. Established in January 2000, our research efforts currently fall into several categories, including the links between regional and community development, the dimensions of environmental inequity in the United States, and changing patterns of employment for low-wage U.S., particularly minority, workers. Perhaps the work most relevant to this project is our Summer Institute, Social Change Across Borders a retreat for grassroots leaders specifically intended to create a space for Latin American and Latino/a organizers from CBOs and NGOs to reflect, network, and understand better how globalization affects their varied social and environmental justice agendas. See http://lals.ucsc.edu/summer_institute for more information.
Manuel Pastor, Jr.
Friday: Building Community
Saturday: Debating Globalization and Mobilizing for Change
Sunday: Creating a Learning Community, Popular Education & Next Steps
The Root Cause
The Root Cause is a community-based coalition of organizations building grassroots resistance to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Several of the groups involved in the GCS project have played a role in this initiative.
"Bringing Globalization Home: Portraits of Popular Education at the Global-Local Junction"
Color Lines vol. 7, no. 2, Summer 2004
Posted on Mon, Feb. 02, 2004