[mgj-discuss] Reminder - MGJ at the DC Social Forum this weekend
basav at igc.org
Wed Feb 28 18:08:12 PST 2007
The DC Social Forum is this weekend at Catholic University! For a full schedule and other info, see www.ussf2007.org/dcmetrosf
We hope you can come to help build the movement for another DC and another world! And if you do, please check out the workshop that MGJ is doing (along with Save Our Schools, Food and Water Watch, and Justice in South Asia). The details of the workshop are as follows:
Time: 10:00 - 11:30 am, Saturday March 3.
Place: Shahan Building Room 305, Catholic U (same building as registration - this is CORRECTED from an earlier room announcement)
Gentrification and Privatization: Connecting the Dots in Washington DC and the World
Gentrification and displacement are a major concern of poor people and people of color in Washington DC. But the physical displacement of people is not the only process of displacement happening in our city today. Developers and wealthy interests are not only grabbing land for private profit – they are also grabbing public infrastructure and public services. We have seen the closing of our only public hospital, we have had our public properties sold at rock-bottom prices to developers, and aside from New Orleans we have the largest number of charter schools in the country. This is also a process of displacement, driving out the public from their own infrastructure to claim it for private profit.
There is a fundamental connection between these two forms of displacement. They are both driven by a system that treats all resources – land, housing, formerly public infrastructure – as existing for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful. Meanwhile, the people who live on the land and use the infrastructure and the resources are viewed as expendable and requiring removal. Both gentrification and privatization are based on the premise of taking control of space and resources that currently benefit large numbers of people, and putting a literal or a legal fence around them to turn them into profit-making resources for the elite.
These same processes of gentrification and privatization are ravaging urban as well as rural populations worldwide. The basic ideology of private profit at the expense of the public good is the same worldwide, and even some of the actors are the same. Wal-Mart is displacing small business, good jobs, and farmers in Mexico (and for that matter across the United States), and is funding the privatization of our public school system in Washington DC. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund are compelling countries worldwide to privatize their public services, while they sit on tax-free property worth $1.4 billion in DC, starving the public budget. And the Washington Post is a major force behind the secretive Federal City Council (FCC), an elite body of business people who were instrumental in closing DC General Hospital and are now promoting charter schools in DC. Effectively, the FCC acts as a shadow government for DC, much in the same way that the IMF, World Bank, and multinational corporations act as a shadow government in large parts of the world, controlling economic policy, agricultural policy, labor policy, education policy, and more. Not surprisingly, the same Washington Post editorializes in favor of these so-called “global” institutions and their policies of impoverishment.
This workshop aims to do the following:
· Identify the processes and causes of gentrification and privatization in Washington DC.
· Examine similar processes of gentrification and privatization in the Global South, whether it is urban slum-dwellers being forced to the margins of cities by “urban renewal” schemes; rural populations displaced by more “profitable” land uses such as plantation agriculture, mining, pipelines, dams, or tourism; or poor populations displaced from using water or health care by privatization.
· Draw out the parallels – common motives, common ideologies, common actors.
· Look at current movements and struggles around these issues, and the lessons one can learn from them.
· Brainstorm possibilities for common strategies, responses, and coalition building.
The workshop will be structured as a panel of activists with knowledge and experience in either or both of local anti-gentrification and anti-privatization struggles, and global economic justice. The emphasis will be on conversation and discussion rather than speeches, with the panel initially having a discussion among themselves and then opening the discussion up to everyone present. The two primary audiences for this workshop are:
· Activists working on resisting corporate globalization overseas, who want to develop an understanding of local manifestations of the same processes, and to root their work locally.
· Activists working on resisting the forces of gentrification and privatization in Washington DC, who want to places these processes in a global context.
The desired outcome of this workshop is to move beyond merely a better understanding of common issues, and to start thinking about common strategies and actions.
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