Camp Upham Woods, June 5-7, 2015

Forward 2015 is a gathering for community activists, organizers, students and educators from a broad range of social movements to come together for a weekend of freewheeling discussion and relaxation.

The central goal of the gathering is to contribute to social movement building by providing participants the opportunity to build relationships, strengthen networks, and develop visions and strategies for progressive social, economic, and political change. 

Forward 2015 will take place on the weekend of June 5-7 at Camp Upham Woods, a beautiful retreat center located on the Wisconsin River just north of the Dells. There will be time for hiking, canoeing, bonfires and music, along with free childcare and a children's program.

This summit offers a space to bring together hands, hearts, and minds to reflect and recharge as we discuss the world we live in and how to change it.

We hope you will contribute to making Forward 2015 an exciting and nourishing event.

The cost for the conference (including lodging and meals) is very modest and determined by ability to pay (please find registration info below). 


Forward 2015 is a participant-driven forum. In addition to evening plenaries on Friday, Saturday and Sunday featuring leading activists from across the region, there will also be “un-conference sessions” throughout the weekend for anyone to initiate a conversation on any specific topic as well as ample time to recharge and connect during meals and unstructured recreation. The summit will begin in the early evening of Friday, June 5th and conclude by 3pm on Sunday, June 7th.

During the plenary sessions, we’re aiming to generate a conversation around how different social movements can overcome their isolation from one another and build a broader and larger movement, in which the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. A central component to this “silo busting” will be to identify systemic interconnections among various struggles, as well as mechanisms for building real collaborative relationships between different groups and campaigns. This participatory discussion will take place in three phases.

On Friday evening, there will be an interactive “fishbowl” discussion in which participants will be asked to share experiences of encountering, and perhaps overcoming, obstacles to broad-based collaboration.

The next phase of the conversation will take place on Saturday evening, starting with a dialogue among four individuals from the environmental justice, black lives matter, food justice, and labor movements. The participants in the dialogue will be asked to offer their insights and reflections on this broad question, drawing on lessons they’ve learned from their respective movements, as well as the input generated during the Friday evening session. Following this dialogue, attendees will be asked to participate in a “think, pair, share” exercise that will provide an opportunity for individuals to reflect on a guiding question their own, share with a partner, and then discuss in small groups before bringing their ideas back to the group. This exercise will also provide participants an opportunity to share examples of campaigns or struggles other than the four highlighted in the dialogue.

Finally, the weekend will culminate with a discussion about how participants can follow up on the ideas generated during this extended conversation. Our hope is that it will not be an academic discussion but rather the foundation for real collaboration among those in attendance after they’ve departed.

During the remainder of the weekend, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a series of workshops on a variety of individual topics. Some workshops currently being planned include: 

    • Black Lives Matter Movement, Jamala Rogers, Organization for Black Struggle (St. Louis); Young, Gifted and Black (Madison)
    • Climate InJustice: The Realities of Communities of Color, Cecilia Martinez and Shalani Gupta, Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy (Twin Cities);
      Bill Gallegos, Communities for a Better Environment (Los Angeles)
    • Food Chain Workers Organizing, Rachel Lovis, Food Chain Workers Alliance (Chicago); Alexia Kulwiec, UW-Ex School for Workers; Patrick Hickey, Workers' Rights Center (Madison)
    • Building an Alternative State Budget, Teaching Assistants Association
    • The Cooperative Businesses Movement, Jake Schlachter, We Own It
    • The New Left? Post-Financial Crisis in Europe, Kristinn Arsaelsson (Iceland) and Pete Ramand (Scotland), UW-Sociology
    • The Future of Wisconsin Higher Education, Sara Goldrick-Rab, UW-Madison
    • Tar Sands Resistance in the Great Lakes, Maria Drews & Laura Hanson-Schlachter, 350 Madison

Space will also be provided for anyone who would like to initiate a conversation on any topic. We invite people who are interested in convening a workshop to contact us in advance so we can advertise the idea with potential attendees, but we also welcome those who decide to lead a workshop on the spot.

Finally, there will be time built into the program for hiking, canoeing, bonfires and music, along with free childcare and a children's program. Our goal is not only to generate interesting and useful conversations, but also to create an atmosphere conducive to building and strengthening relationships and to recharging our batteries for the struggles ahead. 


The cost for registration is between $79 and $119 per person for two nights lodging and six meals (from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch).

Fees vary depending on one's income and lodging preference.

A single day-option (no overnight) is also available at $42.

We have limited capacity. To secure your spot, you must register by Monday, May 25. We cannot guarantee space will be available after the 22nd. May 22 is also the last day when you can cancel your registration and receive a refund. Any cancellations received after the 25th are non-refundable.

The conference begins on Friday evening, June 5, at 5pm, and ends late afternoon on Sunday the 7th. We
will assist in arranging carpool rides to and from Upham Woods. 


You can also mail us your fee. Make your check or money order out to ‘Havens Center’ and mail it to:

Patrick Barrett
The Havens Center
Department of Sociology
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Room 8117 Social Science
1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Thank you for registering and we look forward to seeing you at Forward 2015! 

For more information, contact Patrick Barrett at or call 608-262-0854. 

Co-Sponsored by the South Central Federation of Labor.