Hello, this is Shaina Shay signing in after a long a tumultuous (day long) journey from Tucson, Arizona I arrived in Detroit for the US Social Forum. I’m here representing the University of Arizona Americans for Informed Democracy chapter, and an Arizonan with an open mind.

The first official morning of the US Social Forum started off sleepily in the large auditorium of the Cobo Center in Detroit. As I sat  there (wo)manning the Americans for Informed Democracy table I watched the room slowly fill with milling people of all ages and variety looking for new information and a good conversation. The atmosphere was hopeful, exciting, and friendly because everyone, no matter where they had come from or how far they traveled, were all united in the quest for sharing knowledge. I marveled at the ease in which people began friendly and intriguing conversations with one another throughout the conference. I remember at one point talking to a strapping young gentleman on my shuttle bus about this anomaly. We both agreed that seeing these sorts of informed and connective conversations erupting on a regular basis was what it should look like in everyday life and was something to strive for.

This was the first important “C” that I encountered today: Communication. After I was done tabling with AIDemocracy, I went to a workshop where communication was reiterated in a different way. The workshop was about social intervention and getting people involved in movements. Participants shared with our peers some of our innovative ideas. The topic I discussed was an idea I have been entertaining recently for a new non-profit. I want to create an organization that creates an inventory and master list of non-profits in my area and then connects those organizations through their similar interests with one another in order to inspire collaboration and efficiency. Hypothetically, this would allow topics targeted on a small scale to grow in power and size. The communication inspired by this system leads to the second “C”: Connectivity.

The second workshop I attended discussed the pitfalls of our capitalist system. We learned a short history of capitalism and its effect on society; afterwards we discussed what possible post-capitalist societies would look like and how we could accomplish a move away from our current exploitive capitalist economic structure towards something more just and inclusive. During the conversation there were those who argued that small local grassroots movements, like a community garden for example, were not enough to inspire change and that we should be doing more. This conversation led me to a realization. One of the main downfalls of capitalism is that it removes the connection between a laborer from their product through the division of labor. People no longer create and own what they work on. For example, someone who stands in a assembly line screwing the caps on toothpastes doesn’t feel like they have contributed very much to the creation of that toothpaste bottle and feels less satisfied and connected to their work. Small grassroots organizations like a community garden are able to give that power back to the producer as well as to the consumer. The farmer owns and is proud of their product while the consumer knows where and how their food was grown. Any little thing to reestablish these connections through knowledge is a form of empowerment which combats alienating forms of capitalism and should be applauded, in my opinion.

I would say, overall, that this day was a success and I look to forward to tomorrow and its new adventures.