The People’s Convention for Human Rights is being held August 31 - September 2, 2012 in Burlington, Vermont. You should check out the website (http://vtpeoplesconvention.org/) and definitely register. There are many reasons why you will be excited to have come, but here is my top ten and their order is pretty much interchangeable. See you this weekend!
10. The People’s Kitchen! For breakfast and lunch both days of the Convention, the People’s Kitchen collective (made up of Burlington-area VWC members and supporters) will be preparing amazing local food, largely donated from area farms.
9. Choose From 15 Workshops: Some real tough choices to make for Sunday’s skills workshops: People’s Budget, Anti-racism & Organizing Across Color Lines, Social Media for Social Justice, Direct Action, Immigrant & Refugee Rights and many more!
8. Put People First Bursts on the Scene! After years of focusing most of our work on Healthcare Is a Human RIght, the VWC realized that we needed to work with our peers across issues and communities to get at the common root solutions to the systems that put profits over human needs and rights. We called this Put People First and this convention is a major step forward in making that happen. Just looking at the Host Committee for the People’s Convention to see how we are beginning to build a movement across movements.
People Convention Host Committee: 350 Vermont - Green Mountain Self-Advocates - Migrant Justice - Red Clover Climate Justice - Sierra Club - Toward Freedom - Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, AFT- Vermont Center for Independent Living - Voices for Vermont's Children - Vermont Workers' Center
7. Great Music & Singing: This could easily be the #1 reason actually. Just the music at concerts will be amazing, starting with the kick-off Friday night with legendary singer-songwriter Si Kahn and Burlington’s own Julie Winn at Burlington College to the Saturday evening Toward Freedom African, Latin, and Hip-Hop Show at Battery Park. But just as exciting will be all the singing for justice with everyone that is weaved into many aspects of the Convention.
6. Exciting New Projects Are Being Born: At workshops and lunch-time facilitated discussions many new and existing projects will be being explored, including Caring Across Generations, Food Chain Justice, and H.E.L.P (Healthy Environment & Livable Planet).
5. Human Rights Camp For Kids: Also easily could be the top spot! The Convention is really for the whole family, as incredible educators and parents are putting together a whole convention for kids and youth with art, performance and other activities. This will take our multi-generational movement building to a whole new level.
4. Human Rights At Home: For far too many people, the idea of human rights was for people around the world, but not necessarily here at home in our communities. In Vermont, as a result of years of organizing on the human right to healthcare we have proven that by getting our communities organized we can fight to win our human rights. The Vermont Workers’ Center has been invited to help anchor a new national initiative to build a human rights movement in the United States called Human Rights At Home. Our peers from around the country are excited to use some of the lessons from this movement building event to inform new initiatives around the country.
3. Amazing Movement Leaders: Not only will this be a gathering of the most amazing grassroots movement builders from Vermont, we will be joined by representatives from some totally badass groups from around the country who are building this movement with us. CLASSE (Quebec student movement), Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ), Maine’s brand new Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign, Put People First PA, Media Mobilizing Project and One Love Movement (Philadelphia), the Border Network For Human Rights (Texas) and the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative (NESRI).
2. Vermont Human Rights Declaration: One of the main areas of focus of the Convention will be a Vermont Human Rights Declaration. This has been developed over the Summer by members of the Host Committee conducting over thirty consultation meetings with a broad range of community organizations exploring common problems, solutions and a vision for change. This Declaration will grow over the course of the weekend, and will be presented as living document and a vision for our state. Come and be part of making history!
1. First Of Its Kind: There has never been an event quite like this before and will be unlike any conference you have ever been to (if the singing and multigenerational aspects had not already given that away). I think you will find it to be a refreshing alternative to the tired politics of the electoral political season as we are building a vision for our future that comes up from our communities.