Saturday, December 13, 2008

UFPJ National Assembly: Late Day Report

CHICAGO - The peace work is humming along at the 4th National Assembly of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), the expansive coalition of U.S. peace and justice organizations.

Today has been the first full day of planning for the coming new year and the coming new presidential administration. Organizational reps from all over the country have converged on Obamatown to review and reaffirm its unity statement, to establish a strategic plan, and to focus on specific actions for 2009. This is a tall order for the more than 200 voting delegates.

The assembly officially kicked off the weekend Friday night with a dinner event followed by a panel discussion featuring activists Tom Hayden, William McNary, and Antonia Juhasz. The speakers -- including UFPJ organizers -- clearly reflected the prevalent attitude in the crowd: The peace organizers were feeling good about the results of U.S. elections and nation's repudiation of the Bush-Cheney policies. Even though the peace movement here recognized their big contribution to affecting the national mood, the attitude was far from gloating. There remains in the sound in people's voices the determination -- and yes, some wariness -- in recognizing the struggle for peace continues. Everyone here knows that the changeover in the White House is the beginning of a new stage in challenging U.S. militarism around the globe and economic inequities at home.

The feel-good mood, and determination, carried over to today. At this point, we are well into the tenth hour of working on the nuts-and-bolts organizing business that keeps the UFPJ coalition moving forward. Still, I don't see any diminishing of the delegate crowd at the conference hall. The delegates agreed earlier by consensus on a slightly revised unity statement for the national organization. By lunchtime, the group agreed by consensus on a detailed strategic framework which establishes priorities. Throughout the process, facilitators moved the discussion along, allowing input to the various documents and ensuring concerns were addressed.

This afternoon has focused on specific actions and the UFPJ structure. The elections for the national steering committee is in process now, as well. The decisions on action items and steering committee voting will continue into tomorrow.

I am saving you the details about the many of the assembly's decisions for the moment. The finalized documents -- unity statement and strategic framework -- will be posted on the web by UFPJ after the assembly. Additional work on Sunday will add to the details.

For the delegates here, this long day is still not over. But, hey, who said peace work -- especially peace organizing -- was easy?

-- Rico Thomas Rico

Al Fishman of Detroit Addresses
the Topic of UFPJ's Strategic Framework

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