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Midwest Social Forum
The Midwest Social Forum (MWSF) is an annual gathering of grassroots organizations, community activists, workers, educators, students, artists, and others committed to making a better, more just world possible. The MWSF provides an open space for exchanging experiences and information, strengthening alliances and networks, and developing effective strategies for progressive social, economic, and political change.
The MWSF builds on both regional and global traditions and sources of inspiration. It has its origins in the Midwest Radical Scholars and Activists Conference, which was founded in 1983 by the Havens Center for the Study of Social Structure and Social Change and later renamed RadFest in the late 1990s. In 2003, the title Midwest Social Forum was added, inspired by the World Social Forum and the similar principles on which it was established, most importantly its commitment to diversity, democracy, and politically non-sectarian dialogue and debate (see WSF Charter of Principles here). Reflecting its growing identification and connection with the broader Social Forum movement, in September 2005, the MWSF organizing committee decided to drop the name RadFest and go solely by the title Midwest Social Forum. The committee also decided to move the Forum to Milwaukee in order to accommodate the Forum’s accelerated growth and increasing logistical, programmatic, and other needs.
The growth and expansion of the MWSF is illustrative of the growing importance of the Social Forum movement more generally, which has spread to the regional, national, and even local level in many parts of the world. The World Social Forum itself has increased from 20,000 participants in 2001 to 155,000 in 2005. Moreover, in January 2006, the second Social Forum of the Americas was held in Caracas, Venezuela, and in June 2007, the first United States Social Forum will be held in Atlanta, Georgia. And the Midwest Social Forum is now poised to make yet another significant leap forward. More info here: www.mwsocialforum.org