Imagine if, in your city, ordinary residents met regularly to decide how government funds were spent on playgrounds, health clinics and adult education. If you lived in the Canadian city of Guelph or in a public housing building in Toronto, you could do more than imagine.
January is a special month for the global left. Every year at this time, progressives and activists convene at the World Social Forum, usually in Porto Alegre, Brazil. In January 2005, I too was eagerly awaiting my first trip to the Forum, imagining a week of cross-cultural communication, strategic organizing, and inspiring celebrations. Although I didn't know exactly what to expect, I did know one thing - the Forum would be an alternative to neoliberalism. So why did I walk away from Porto Alegre worried mostly about the similarities between the Forum and neoliberalism? And is there still reason to be worried, as the 2006 Forum approaches?