Thursday, February 11, 2010

the US Social Forum needs you

Greetings Friends!

We are planning for an historic moment. An estimated 20,000 grassroots organizers, workers, union members, community members, people of faith, educators, youth, peace activists, immigrant and indigenous populations, and displaced folks and evacuees are planning to convene in Detroit for the second United States Social Forum in June 2010. They will be gathering to learn from each other, build bridges between their communities, and share their visions for a more just world. (For more information on the forum, visit the website at

These important conversations can only happen through language negotiation: transmitting the meaning of the message without losing the flavor provided by the speaker. Interpreters – both spoken word and sign language – are key to this negotiation.

The organizing committee of the US Social Forum is calling for interpreters and translators of all languages to provide translation/interpretation services in anticipation of and throughout the gathering. Linguistic and interpreting proficiency are important, as are a passion for social justice, languages, and helping people to connect across linguistic barriers. The US Social Forum has not designated any “official” languages; any and all language combinations are welcome. There is a particular need however for Spanish/English and Arabic/English interpreters and translators.

The call at this time is three-fold. The most immediate call is for interpreters and translators. There is a time-sensitive need for folks who are interested in translating materials prior to the forum (the translation of materials is primarily from English into Arabic and Spanish). We also will need a strong team of qualified interpreters to provide simultaneous interpretation during the many events of the US Social Forum. If either of these is you, please send your name and contact information (email and telephone) to the Language Access Team ASAP at and we will contact you shortly.

The second part of the call is for folks who would are able to invest a little more time in the process and are willing to serve on the planning and oversight committee for language needs. This committee will negotiate interpreter logistics (recruiting, scheduling, and orientation), work with the program committee to address language needs at the US Social Forum, and engage other issues to ensure optimal language accessibility. A team of four or five folks that could take point on major areas of work would be ideal. The commitment at this time is to bimonthly calls. Needless to say, the more folks step up, the lighter the load on everyone. Also, we are committed to process that allows for full participation and that is transparent. If this is you, please let us ASAP at the above mentioned email.

Lastly, we are reaching out to persons and organizations that own and use interpretation equipment (shortwave microphone transmitters and receptors). We hope to minimize the cost of having to buy or rent the amount of equipment necessary for an undertaking of this size. If you or your organization own or have access to this any type of interpretation equipment, we ask that you consider sharing that equipment with the USSF for use at the forum. If you are so willing, please let us know via the above contact info.

While we encourage anyone who is interested to step up and participate, we would ask that folks take a minute to reflect on their capacity to do the work before committing. Language accessibility is very important to the success of any social justice gathering. When folks can’t follow through on their commitments, it puts a strain on the other interpreters and can result in participants being left out of the communication process.

The US Social Forum is an exciting, historic process. We invite you to be a part of transforming local communities, the United States, and the world.


The Language Access Working Group

PS – Please forward this to anyone you know that may be interested.

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