Home   »  Our Coalition  »  US Campaign Conferences  »  4th Annual National Organizers' ...

Conference Report

  

 

Conference Report

4th Annual National Organizers’ Conference

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

July 29—August 1, 2005, Atlanta, GA

 

  1. Overview … 2. Priority Actions … 3. Steering Committee Elections

4. Notes from Presentations and Workshops … 5. Evaluation


1. OVERVIEW

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation convened its 4th annual conference in Atlanta, GA 29 July – 1 August 2005.  Over 130 representatives of member groups from 24 U.S. states, Ireland, and Palestine traveled to Atlanta to participate in two days of strategizing, networking, and information-sharing at Georgia State University.  Highlights of the 2005 US Campaign conference included:

* Adoption by US Campaign voting delegates of the Caterpillar project as a strategic focus for US Campaign member groups in 2005-2006. The project aims to end sales of Caterpillar bulldozers and other equipment to the Israeli military;

* A special appearance by Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), who was given the 1st Annual Edward Said Human Rights Award and who pledged to refuse any financial contribution from Caterpillar Corporation;

* Musical performances that powerfully captured the Palestinian struggle for justice and human rights.  David Lippman performed his multimedia piece “Star of Goliath” on the opening night.  Ora Wise emceed Saturday evening’s Benefit Concert, “Rhymes for Palestine,” which featured spoken word from Wise and anti-oppression activist Joe Carr, and hip-hop by Palestinian-American brothers Ragtop and B-Dub of the Philistines;

* 14 delegate-led workshops where member groups exchanged experiences and skills on topics ranging from “nonviolent direct action” and “reaching beyond the choir,” to “the nuts and bolts of organizing a Palestine film festival;”

* Plenary and small-group strategy sessions to begin fleshing out the national, year-long Caterpillar project;

* Panel presentations examining links between human rights struggles around the world, and anticipating how developments on the ground in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories will affect our efforts to change U.S. policy;

* Book signing by Samar Jarrah, author of Arab Voices Speak to American Hearts.  For more information about the book and about Samar Jarrah, click here.

* Protest on Monday noon in front of the Israeli consulate

The conference was co-hosted by the regional office of the American Friends Service Committee in Atlanta, and participants extended their appreciation for all the hard work of AFSC staff, especially Samir Moukaddam, in organizing the conference and making AFSC office space available for registration and additional meetings.  Students for Peace and Justice at Georgia State co-sponsored the conference.  Atlanta Palestine Solidarity helped with many of the logistics and organized Monday’s protest at the Israeli consulate. The conference was facilitated by Steering Committee co-chair David Wildman.


2. PRIORITY ACTIONS

The first full day of the conference began with a plenary session that provided an orientation of the weekend and reviewed accomplishments of the past twelve months (“Annual Report”).  Mark Lance explained the concept and justification for a single U.S. Campaign Project for the coming year, based on the background paper (“Position Paper”) made available to the participants.  The aim was to go for substantial results by focusing on a single activist Campaign project with progress to be evaluated at the 2006 Annual Organizers’ Conference. The new approach did not mean giving up other areas of work either by member groups or by the Campaign.

There were Campaign Project proposals from member groups: “Exposing the Associated Press” and the “Caterpillar Campaign” ("Campaign Proposals").

Liat Weingart of Jewish Voice for Peace and Matt Gaines of the StopCAT Coalition presented arguments in favor of the proposal to end sales of Caterpillar bulldozers to the Israeli military, which are used to destroy Palestinian homes and land, as well as construct the Wall being built on Palestinian land in the West Bank.  Weingart noted that Caterpillar activism began seriously in 2001, when human rights organizations and concerned US citizens put the company on actual notice that its bulldozers were being used by the IDF in the occupied territories in violation of international law.  She detailed the growing momentum of these efforts, evidenced by an increase in news articles from three in 2001 to 230 in the first quarter of 2005 alone.  Gaines emphasized the importance Caterpillar places on its brand name, and how this provides a real opportunity for our coalition to achieve a victory.  He also explained how the Caterpillar proposal invokes all of the US Campaign’s priority education areas—especially the growing divestment movement, where Caterpillar can serve as a focus and wedge to discuss divestment in various arenas. 

Liat Weingart & Matt Gaines present the CAT proposal.

Alison Weir of If Americans Knew, Hassan Fouda of Al-Awda-CT, and Diane Adkin of Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights all spoke in favor of the Associated Press proposal.  Weir explained how AP news reports filed from within the OPT must be “cleared” by the AP West Jerusalem bureau before being released on the wires.  She recounted several examples of reports of IDF soldiers deliberately shooting Palestinian children that were filed by AP reporters in the West Bank, including a filmed incident that did not end up being filed.  According to Weir, the oldest and widest-reaching news organization in the US is systematically preventing the American public from understanding the conflict.  A campaign project to expose this journalistic breach would therefore “hit at the root of the problem.”  Fouda and Adkin echoed Weir’s concerns, adding their experiences meeting with their respective local newspapers to inform them of detailed studies showing bias in their coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Both local newspapers were shocked at the results of bias, enhanced their coverage, and suggested complaining to the AP.

Conference participants then posed questions to the presenters and made comments from the floor. The final vote was 53-25 in favor of the Caterpillar campaign.  Later that afternoon the five US Campaign taskforces – media, resources, legislative, membership outreach, and direct action – convened to plan specific actions for this campaign project over the next year (see Section 4).


3. STEERING COMMITTEE ELECTIONS

The nominations process was launched in mid-June by the Nominations Committee, which was chaired this year by Hany Khalil of United for Peace and Justice, and included Teddy Crum of the General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church, and Ceanna Stephens of Global Exchange.  Each year four new members of the Steering Committee are elected, and four step down after three year terms.  This year, two additional members stepped down for personal and work reasons.  The six outgoing members of the Steering Committee--Rania Awwad, Phyllis Bennis, Kathy Bergen, Nisrin Elamin, Zaha Hassan, and Nancy Murray--were thanked for all their contributions to the US Campaign. Geoff Hartman, who has served as US Campaign web coordinator since the start, was presented with an award. 

David Wildman presents the outgoing Steering Committee.

Nominations were accepted for these six vacant positions through the morning of July 31st.  Thirteen candidates introduced themselves briefly to the plenary on Sunday morning.  Voting then took place until 3pm on Sunday afternoon.  The results were announced as follows:

* Mohammed Abed, Al-Awda-WI, Alternative Palestinian Agenda

* Amie Fishman, Jewish Voice for Peace

* Samir Moukaddam, AFSC Regional Office, Atlanta

* Uda Olabarria Walker, Middle East Children’s Alliance

* Mazin Qumsiyeh, Al-Awda-CT

The new members joined current Steering Committee members Huwaida Arraf (International Solidarity Movement), Felicia Eaves (Black Voices for Peace, standing in for Damu Smith), Nadia Hijab, Mark Lance (SUSTAIN!), Ceanna Stephens (Global Exchange), and David Wildman (General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church).


4. NOTES FROM PRESENTATIONS AND WORKSHOPS

Opening Panel, July 29

The conference opened with an engaging panel discussion at the Student Center of Georgia State University titled “Linking Human Rights Struggles,” and moderated by the US Campaign Membership Outreach Coordinator Kymberlie Quong CharlesNadia Hijab began the discussion by noting the importance of educating on human rights and international law as an integral part of all our education work in order to give citizens tools of analysis that can be used to understand US foreign as well as domestic policy and hold government representatives to account.  Sean O’Carroll, chairman of the Limerick Branch of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign described current efforts in Ireland to stop purchases of Caterpillar bulldozers to put pressure on the corporation to end sales to Israel.  The education campaign was having an effect, and Limerick is about to be declared a Caterpillar- free zone.  Sara Totonchi, Public Policy Director at the Southern Center for Human Rights, spoke of the conditions of prisoners in the US and particularly in the South, comparing these to conditions of Palestinians in Israeli jails.  Joe Beasley, Southern Regional Director of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition recounted instances of personal racism he continues to encounter in his extensive traveling through the South, and stressed the importance of connecting the struggles for freedom by Palestinians and African-descended peoples.

After the panel discussion, David Lippman performed his “song-slide-sound” multimedia piece called “Star of Goliath,” written after a 2004 visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.  According to Lippman, the work “encapsulates modern Holy Land history and imperial machinations, with attention to varying Jewish views on Israel and the struggle for Palestinian survival and sovereignty.”

David Lippman performs "Star of Goliath".

Workshops, July 30 

The selection of the Caterpillar project on Saturday morning was followed by a short working lunch, during which conference participants met to caucus on issues such as Caterpillar, the Associated Press, Palestine work within United for Peace and Justice, and Southeast regional organizing.  After lunch, conference participants attended seven delegate-led concurrent workshops on the following issues:

- “Arts and Activism,” facilitated by Nizar Wattad of the Philistines, Dave Lippman and Ellen O’Grady

- “Divestment,” facilitated by Mohammed Abed, University of Wisconsin Divestment Campaign

- “Nonviolent Direct Action,” facilitated by Kadd Stephens and Mark Lance, SUSTAIN!

- “Grassroots Organizing,” facilitated by Hany Khalil, United for Peace and Justice

- “What is Solidarity?” facilitated by Joe Carr, Christian Peacemaker Teams and Nijmie Dzurinko, International Women’s Peace Service

- “Reaching Beyond the Choir,” facilitated by Alison Weir, If Americans Knew, Diane Adkin, Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, Hassan Fouda, Al-Awda-CT

- “Working with your local political party: Party resolutions as a tool for mobilizing,” facilitated by Kiki Montamat, Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East

A second round of delegate-led workshops began around 5pm and included the following topics:

- “Developing grassroots popular education projects,” facilitated by Ora Wise, Palestine/Israel Education Project;

- “Legislative advocacy,” facilitated by Josh Ruebner, Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation;

- “Media Advocacy,” facilitated by Samar Jarrah, author of Arab Voices Speak to American Hearts;

- “Educating your community about Israel’s ‘Matrix of Control’,” facilitated by Stav Adivi and Hassan Fouda, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – USA;

- “Advocating the Palestinian Right to Return,” facilitated by Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Al-Awda, CT;

- “Bringing Together Progressive Arab-Americans and other progressives!” facilitated by Samir Moukaddam, American Movement for Advancing Arab-American Matters;

- “The nuts and bolts of organizing a Palestine film festival,” facilitated by Haley Pollack and Rafi Rom, SUSTAIN! Philadelphia Chapter

Task Force Strategy Sessions, July 30 

- The Resources Task Force identified what Caterpillar resources currently existed, what were needed, and who should do what and how.  The Task Force identified several online resources including the http://www.catdestroyshomes.org  website, action kits from Jewish Voice for Peace and Global Exchange, a War on Want report, Sojourners magazine, Sabeel reports, among others.  Hard copy resources include 10 huge billboards posters of CAT bulldozers produced by groups in NY, bumper stickers, and an ICAHD video.  Models include the Sommerville divestment campaign, university divestment, South Africa, and corporate campaigns (e.g. Taco Bell and Coalition of Immokalee Workers).  The Task Force went into detail about desired resources, but also realized that its work was dependent on that of the Direct Action Task Force, and decided to give the list of resources to the Direct Action group and be guided by it in production of resources when a timeline and activities for the campaign project are decided. Meanwhile, Ryan Borgen will contact Haik Hoisington re animation, Uda Walker will link members to posters and graphics in electronic form, Ann will make electronic versions of the billboard posters, Haley will develop talking points aimed at specific audiences working with the Outreach Task Force, Mohammed will summarize university divestment experience, David will pull together Immokalee resources, Sydney will gather success stories. The idea of working with CAT’s competitors also came up.

- The Direct Action Task Force brainstormed the kinds of actions that people thought possible and effective over the next year.  Actions fell into following categories:

Education: There was strong support for an ongoing CAT educational campaign that would speak in as many venues as possible.  One thought was a speaking tour of the country that might make use of the olive wood bulldozer that we commissioned.  We need a national program to counter CAT’s good name.  Ads, billboards, bus signs, etc. are needed to associate Cat with theft of land and home demolition.

Protest: There should be a CAT presence at every major national protest, beginning with Sept. 24.

There should be another national day of action in Peoria, in addition to whatever happens at the shareholder meetings. 

Street Theater: There were a wide range of ideas tossed around for actions all over the country, including banners, props, actually buying an old bulldozer from a dump yard, renting a functional one from CAT, all with the idea of building clear demonstrations of the various issues.

Civil Disobedience: There were many suggestions, either as direct confrontation with CAT, or as part of a campaign to boycott/divest.  In addition to sit-ins, etc. some ideas were encampments on the lawns of CAT board members, blocking work at construction sites using CAT equipment, sit-ins in CAT corporate offices, continuous autonomous actions in Peoria, etc. 

Boycotts and divestment: It was felt that we should work for CAT-free-zones all over the country, pushing boycotts and/or divestment on every entity that builds/owns stock.  There was also support for approaching Arab and Muslim contractors here and abroad, as well as the Arab League and various governments to boycott CAT equipment.  These boycotts should also include CAT clothing lines.

- The Media Task Force convened to look at past accomplishments and plan future direction.  It was limited by absence of previous media taskforce members; Palestine Media Watch had been the main engine for doing media work for Palestine.  Those present discussed various forms of media activism from media coverage for events, editorial pages (letters and op-eds), “alternative media” (e.g. use of public access TV, internet, racial and ethnic minority media outlets). The Caterpillar campaign project would be strategically placed in the context of current events like the disengagement.  The task force committed to developing media contact people in all regions and expand cooperation between various groups that do media work (PMW, If Americans Knew, Search for Justice etc.).

-The Legislative Task Force began its meeting by reviewing different grassroots advocacy tactics that organizations have used in general and on CAT in particular.  Afterwards, participants brainstormed grassroots advocacy projects to tie into the campaign against CAT and suggested tactics to accompany each of the projects.  Then the participants prioritized grassroots advocacy projects and suggested three to the plenary: 1) On the city, county, and state levels, activists can pressure city and county councils, state legislatures, and local, Congressional district, and state-level political parties to pass resolutions condemning CAT, declaring CAT-free zones, etc.  2) On the federal level, activists can pressure Members of Congress not to accept money from CAT’s political action committee.  Special mention was made of Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL), an Arab-American who represents the Peoria-area in Congress and takes large donations from CAT’s PAC.  3) Also on the federal level, activists can continue the campaign to get Members of Congress to request a General Accountability Office (GAO) request into potential CAT violations of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).

Benefit Concert, July 30

Before kicking-off the evening of cultural festivities, the US Campaign’s grassroots advocacy coordinator, Josh Ruebner, presented Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) with the First Annual Edward Said Human Rights Award.  Representative McKinney told the audience of her remarkable recent re-election after her 2002 defeat, despite considerable forces aligned against her. She ended her comments by pledging not to accept any campaign contributions from Caterpillar and promised to work with the US Campaign on its campaign against CAT. 

Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) meets w/ conference participants.

The benefit concert featured performances by Ora Wise, Joe Carr, Ragtop and B-Dub of the Philistines, and the screening of a trailer for the upcoming film Sling-Shot Hip-Hop by artist Jackie Salloum.  Ora Wise riveted the audience with her spoken word pieces.  Backed by a stellar musical arrangement, Joe Carr performed tracks from his album "Plant the Olive Branch", and blessed the audience with his new single "Falluja," a tightly composed scorcher about the U.S. occupation of Iraq.  B-Dub and Ragtop of the Philistines headlined the night with their high-energy southern-inflected rhymes about life as Palestinian youth in the United States, keeping the audience on their feet and dancing.  They also promoted their current project "Free the P" an incredible compilation album due out soon.  "Sling-Shot Hip-Hop," a film documenting the rise of hip-hop in Palestine is scheduled for release by the end of this year.

Ragtop and B-Dub of the Philistines.

Ora Wise and Joe Carr performing.

Morning Panel, Sunday, July 31

Sunday morning began with a panel on “the political outlook of the medium to the long term” which featured Mohammed Abed of University of Wisconsin Divest from Israel, Uda Walker of the Middle East Children’s Alliance and Ryan Borgen of the National Lawyers Guild.  The panel conjectured that if the Gaza “disengagement” moves forward as planned and the Wall is completed in the West Bank, we might see a declaration that the “occupation has ended.” 

Josh Ruebner, US Campaign, moderated the panel and asked the panelists to address how we should plan for the political scenario outlined above and how it might affect our activism if this scenario materializes.   

Panelists predicted that the consolidation of a “Bantustan” situation very similar to Apartheid South Africa is likely to emerge.  This “Bantustanization”, the panel agreed, was being implemented in all areas of historic Palestine, including upon those Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.  If consolidated, panelists warned there will be little difference between the conditions facing Palestinians residing inside or outside of the Green Line.  In trying to spark discussion about the implications of such a future for the solidarity movement, one panelist suggested that the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation might need to reconsider its name, given that there needs to be a shift of language to combat this possible new reality. 

Mohammed Abed's talk argued three points. First, 'rather than being a concession, Sharon's disengagement plan is a means to consolidate Israel's grip on the West Bank. With the wall complete, the Palestinians will be condemned to live in territorially disconnected Bantustans on less than 40% of the 22% of Palestine that Israel failed to conquer in the 1948 war. Second, Abed argued that even in its ideal form, the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is immoral and impractical. These shortcomings are amplified both by the disengagement plan itself and by the current political, territorial, demographic and economic conditions more generally. Finally, Abed argued that 'to stem the tide of Israeli colonialism and apartheid, the international solidarity campaign must adopt a non-prescriptive post-nationalist politics of resistance that directs the attention of the international community back to the victims of the conflict and articulates a hopeful vision of the future for both the oppressed and the oppressor. Ideas need to be backed by concerted and effective social action. A comprehensive grassroots boycott of Israel will apply the cultural, social, and political pressure necessary for Israeli society to give due consideration to the political demands of post-nationalism. At this stage, this is the only viable alternative to either the cultural death of the Palestinian people or a repeat of the catastrophe that befell them in the war of 1948.'  (For Abed’s full address, click here.)

Ryan Borgen explained first, that he didn't think it was unreasonable to conclude that Sharon may attempt to declare a Palestinian state in the next few years, saying, "We cannot overemphasize the importance being placed on the April 14 understandings, nor the fear of their provisional status."  Borgen regarded as obvious that "Palestinian civil society will not accept unviable Bantustan arrangements, decisions of elected leaders notwithstanding, and that should guide our efforts." Second, he suggested we view Gaza disengagement as a window into a possible later declaration of a total end to occupation: "how this process is depicted now can offer insights into how we might address a similarly misleading, albeit larger, version in the future.”  He encouraged participants to “think about how the perception of occupation impacts the work of this coalition," and asked what aspects of occupation they would choose to highlight if the scenarios described came into being.  Finally, he questioned whether the political trajectories anticipated by his co-panelists would necessarily mean revising the US Campaign's framework of international law, human rights and a focus on US policy.

Uda Walker spoke about the need to review the history of the Palestinian struggle from its roots in order to understand where the future may take us. She reminded us that the history of the Palestinian struggle is at least 57 years old and is carried within the collective memory of the people, and the descendants of those who were forced out of Palestine in 1948 and 1967 and remain displaced persons in the state of Israel, Palestinian refugees outside of historical Palestine or refugees within the borders of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Furthermore, Walker insisted that the occupation must be seen “in the only light that is possible: since 1967, Israel has sought to consolidate its control over Palestinian land and resources in the West Bank and Gaza.”  She reminded the audience that a few years after the first Intifada, the Oslo accords were “laid out over the OPT.”  The problem however, was that they were never intended to be a genuine peace process, because “they were not based on even the minimal requirements for justice for Palestinians.” She raised the point that Oslo II began the "Bantustan" process in the West Bank and Gaza. By 2000, the Oslo process was seen by Palestinians and international eyewitnesses as “the sham that it was.” The world continued however, to ignore their cries that Israel was consolidating control, that Gaza was relegated to “a giant prison camp,” and that the Palestinians, confined to Areas A, B, and C were still without their rights.

Walker explained that the “disengagement” is another package like Oslo only this time Gaza, like "Area A", is the carrot. Withdrawing from Gaza makes Israel looks like a saint for its concession.  Again however, as Israel gives back it also takes more in the process. This time Israel wants to solidify its Bantustan project begun during Oslo by bringing the Wall of the mind into the physical realm with an actual concrete Wall.  Walker stressed that by looking at the facts on the ground—walled bantustans, Gaza-prison, total Israeli control—and by truly listening to the Palestinians, both inside Israel and the Occupied Territories, there is no option but to accept that the future of Palestine is "Bantustanization" unless we do something about it. The question for the US Campaign, she said, is how to act. First, she made it clear that the US Campaign has the necessary foundation of working within international humanitarian and human rights law. Furthermore, the US Campaign is fully equipped and capable to take on the tough questions that lie ahead and it must do so with honesty, integrity and the moral compass it already possesses. Walker stressed that an “Apartheid reality” is already here and we must address the Palestinian-Israeli issue as it is: the struggle of all Palestinians for full and equal rights. “By working within this framework we ultimately work for an equal and safe future for both Jews and Palestinians.”

Following the panel, the general body broke into groups to discuss the ideas raised by the panel.  These small groups were followed by a report back to the general body.

Strategy Session, Sunday, July 31

The conference reconvened in plenary after lunch and Steering Committee balloting to hear report backs from the various Task Forces on their plans to integrate the CAT campaign into their work (see above for details).  After the report backs, conference participants brainstormed additional ideas for the CAT campaign and suggested ways to tie together the activities of the various Task Forces.  Member organizations outlined past and present work on CAT and suggested future activities that their organizations might be interested in doing to turn up the pressure on CAT.  Afterwards, participants came up with a tentative calendar for days of action and mobilization through 2006.

 

Conference participants line up to comment.

The newly-elected Steering Committee of the US Campaign will compile all of the ideas raised at the conference for moving forward on CAT and synthesize them into a coherent and multi-faceted plan of action for the coming years, which will be circulated shortly to member organizations for comment and approval.

The conference concluded with an evaluation and closing thoughts (see below for further details).

Protest, Monday, August 1

Participants who had not yet left Atlanta gathered in front of the Israeli consulate at noon on Monday with signs, flags and banners to protest Israel’s continuing occupation and construction of the separation wall, and to demand that “Gaza first” not be “Gaza last.” Activists called on the US to end its support for Israeli occupation.

Conference participants protest in front of Israeli Consulate.


5. EVALUATION

Participants were asked to rate the following items based on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best), with the option to include comments.

§    On a scale of 1-5, did this conference meet your expectations?

1: 0 respondents

2: 0 respondents

3: 0 respondents

4: 16 respondents

5: 9 respondents

Total: 25 respondents

Average: 4.36

Comments:

“I liked the structure.”

“This was my first US Campaign conference.  I was especially impressed with the organization level, given the diversity of groups.”

“Gave focus for our work in our local organizations.”

“I came to learn more and was concerned that I would feel out of place.  I was really pleased at how friendly everyone was and to learn I wasn’t the only one fairly new to this issue.  I feel better informed after this conference.”

“Very productive networking.  Astute panels and discussion groups raised real issues.”

“Very well-organized.  Action-oriented.  Excellent process.”

“Very well organized and facilitated by such a small full-time staff.  Need ethnic diversity…Palestinians.”

“Strategizing session should have been longer and more thorough, and there should have been more discussion of strategy at the regional conferences and on the internet beforehand.  Given that, it was pretty good.”

“Needed more focused workshops.  They felt secondary to the plenary sessions, but a lot of networking and organizing skills came out of workshops.”

“I expected more students. 

§    On a scale of 1-5, were the sessions (panels, workshops, strategizing, etc.) useful?  Which were the most helpful and the least helpful.

1: 0 respondents

2: 0 respondents

3: 3 respondents

4: 8 respondents

5: 10 respondents

Total: 21 respondents

Average: 4.33

Comments:

“Actions against CAT were the most useful.  Grassroots planning was least.  It didn’t teach or inform.”

“Right of Return workshop was most helpful because it is the core issue.”

“Most useful were Grassroots Organizing and Legislative workshop.”

“Strategizing [most helpful].”

“CAT Direct Action group was GREAT.”

“Least: opening night panel…why all the emphasis on Georgia jails?  Panelists had no cohesive theme.  Bad way to start an important three-day conference.”

“Most: Matrix of Control.” 

“Most: Arts and Activism.  Sunday morning panel and Friday evening panel also good.”

“Southeast Grassroots organizing lunch breakout session.  It’s always good to get folks from the same region to meet.”

“Most: Sunday morning panel.  Least: Friday night panel.”

“Hany did an excellent job in the organizing workshop.  I love the short presentations, no key-notes, just organizing, working, and commentary.”

“Most: Stav Adivi and Matrix of Control.”

“Hany Khalil’s session on organizing was great.”

“Most: Ora Wise education workshop.”

“I enjoyed the discussion on Arab-American integration in the movement.  Left with a lot of ideas for direct action.”

§    On a scale of 1-5, did you find conference preparation, the program, structure, location and other logistics satisfactory?

1: 0 respondents

2: 0 respondents

3: 1 respondent

4: 12 respondents

5: 12 respondents

Total: 25 respondents

Average: 4.44

Comments:

“On time most of the time and complete our goals.”

“Not bad.  Breaks to rest and recharge were not long enough.”

“Need to create longer dinner breaks if restaurants are a few minutes walk away.”

“Location was very good.”

“Should have been told that we would have to pay for parking at the hotel.”

“Need well-designed presentation packages = 40 min. long for use in churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.”

“My biggest complaint is about time.  The conference organizers didn’t honor time so no one else did.”

“Low temperature was a detriment.”

“Thing flowed really well.  A few technical problems, but otherwise fine.  Nice location.”

“Well prepared and put together.”

“Atlanta was cool, access was difficult.  Program was muy bueno.  Good job on logistics.”

“I prefer DC, but given that, ATL was okay.  I missed the chance to lobby, but am happy lodging wasn’t extremely expensive.  Main limitation was low % of organizations in attendance.”

“The conference was wonderfully planned and the agenda timing was superb.”

§    On a scale of 1-5, did this conference provide you with concrete ideas, skill sand tools for action when you return home?

1: 0 respondents

2: 0 respondents

3: 5 respondents

4: 9 respondents

5: 11 respondents

Total: 25 respondents

Average: 4.24

Comments:

“Yes.  Grassroots organizing principles were especially helpful.”

“Someone needs to focus on no duplication efforts.  Member organizations could benefit greatly if more sharing of resources took place. 

“A lot of clarification.”

“Some good resources with tabling.  Campaign lit also good.”

“Divest and direct action [were helpful] as well as information to share with my fellow activists.”

Participants were asked to respond to the following questions

§    What were the most and least valuable aspects of this conference?

“The solidarity workshop was the most valuable.”

“Most: workshops and Sunday morning panel.  Least: discussion after Sunday morning panel.”

“Most: networking.  Least: workshops with less than 5 people.”

“Net working [most valuable].”

“Most: the process to choose one focus this year for end the occupation was excellent.  Multiple voices heard and acknowledged and a fair result was the outcome.  Least: Friday evening panel.” 

“Most: small sessions, panels.  Least: large, generalized sessions.”

“Most: I think the Star of Goliath presentation by Dave Lippman is a great presentation.  Really informative and moving.  Gives info you can’t really come by in the mass media.”

“Sessions ran long at times.”

“Most: Hany Khalil’s workshop on movement building.”

“I like the emphasis on planning/plenary sessions and small-group workshops.  I really liked hearing Sunday morning panel ‘looking forward.’”

“Planning within taskforces and report back, feedback, clarifying questions.  The conference attendees were very much involved.”

“Most: Presentation by Uda, Mohammed on Gaza disengagement.”

“I now have a good understanding of the US Campaign’s work.  I also networked very well.”

§    Additional comments and concerns

“Juice and coffee are nice, but considering how long we were here each day, bagels and doughnuts would have been nice.”

“What you are doing is hard and it’s great.”

“The discussion after Sunday’s panel could have been more focused; our group took a long time to get looking at some of the strategy questions.”

“Not keeping to schedule is a small criticism.  Everything started late.”

“A wonderful conference.  Thank you for all of your hard work.”

“David Wildman did a terrific job of facilitating the panel on Saturday morning.  Due to his structure and efforts a lot was accomplished.  Also, Mohammed Abed was excellent, clear, lucid, engaging.  Invite him to play a much bigger role next year.  Uda Walker, also excellent.  Invite her to do a keynote or run a skills development session in a future conference.”

“Hard to find places to eat nearby.  Box lunch was great.”

“Good workshops.  Would be better to have more workshop periods.”

“Reading and approving the agenda was a waste o time.  We need real breaks and schmooze opportunities with other attendees.  That’s an important part of the experience.  No working lunches.”

“Contact list for everyone.”

“Someone needs to talk to those groups that didn’t attend to persuade them of the desirability in joining CAT project.”

“Excellent opportunity to outreach.”

“I had a negative reaction to peoples’ questions and comments being cut off by the facilitator.  I felt that he did not welcome peoples’ questions but instead made them feel uncomfortable. 

§    How did you learn about this conference?

“It was emailed to me.”

“I signed onto your email list at the ADC convention.”

“My organization is a member so we got email notices.”

“From Josh when he was in TX.”

“Website.”

“Washington Wednesday”

Special thanks to Ryan Borgen and Matt Horton for serving as official note-takers and authors of the conference report.