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IC meeting in Berlin 30-31 May 2007

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:35 pm
by judith hitchman
A short report on some of the aspects discussed during the WSF evaluation meeting 29th May and the IC meeting 30th-31st May in Berlin, and some personal ideas and personal reflections on the future role of Babels.

The meeting on evaluation that was held on the afternoon of the 29th of May was not an accusatory mud-slinging bloodletting on what went wrong in Nairobi. Most of this had already been covered in Nairobi in the meeting immediately following the event. It was more of an appraisal of a process and the process evaluation. It was clearly stated however that it is necessary to avoid the ‘merchandising’ aspects of a forum, that a more inclusive grass-roots approach is what should be favoured.

My personal input to the meeting was to inform people that the interpreter training carried out before the WSF in Nairobi has led to the creation of a Community Interpreter’s training course, with accreditation from Dublin City University. This will provide a landmark of the sustainable local development that all social fora should leave behind.

I pointed out that Babels has both a methodology and tools for managing the process. Some financial aspects could be usefully reduced by addressing foreseeable up-front costs such as radios that meet the specifications for ALIS technology, tickets for interpreters where we know in advance that there will be a language short-fall (like Spanish in Nairobi); we must, however respect subsidiarity, and continue to work closely with local committees in terms of recruiting and training as many local interpreters as possible.

I also stated my personal opinion that Babels needs to become an adult proactive political actor within the IC, showing transparency, accountability and communication. This is in no way in conflict with the methodology that exists of horizontal approach and project teams.


Please note that in a private discussion Professor Edward Oyugi expressed his sincere regrets to me about the misunderstandings that had occurred between Babels and the Nairobi organising committee.

The IC that was held on the 30th & 31st dealt with several key points:
WSF 2008 & 9
Establishing a facilitation committee and working groups and commissions
There is a short report on this on-line at http://www.nigd.org.

2008 will mark a break in the usual type of forum, with a global day of action taking place all over the world. It will allow local actions however small to be linked up on a ‘google earth’ initiative map (in as many languages as we can manage to reflect the diversity and communication through different languages). The process will involve Babels at many levels, in many new ways.

It will provide us with the opportunity to really involve as many native languages and true language and cultural diversity both through actions and documents.

2009 will be held in Belem in Brazil, and focus on the 9 countries of the Amazonian region.

The first step for 2008 is to send out an invitation in as many languages as possible world-wide, via all channels, organisations etc. I have committed Babels to helping with this. The text is available at http://groups.google.com/group/2008actionday?lnk=li
The call has already been translated into French, Spanish, German, Japanese, English and Arabic, and I know the Italians are doing it as well as the Koreans.

You can find (and post) the translation in the google group.

There will also be many other texts to translate, conference calls to facilitate with interpreting etc as we go through the year.


At this point, I think it would be useful to put out a call for a project team, as well as a team of translators etc.

In order to fully participate in the overall process, Babels also needs to join the liaison group, and possibly both the communications and resources commissions for both 2008 & 2009. This will mean a co-ordinated team effort on our part.

At this stage, I feel that there is a need to preserve the identity and horizontal culture of Babels, but also to improve our visibility and communication. I think that it would be really useful to create a continental duo of spokespeople – one older more experienced person paired with a younger person - who are prepared to accept an annual responsibility (renewable once?) to go to meetings, to ensure political content and methodology and who accept the principle of writing a clear report on meetings attended. I have discussed this idea with a few Babeli@s who all thought it was a good idea. It does not mean we change our horizontal structure, just ensure on-going communication is clear. It should not institutionalise but improve our network.

I am sending this to both the Babels list and putting it up on the forum for comments.

Judith Hitchman, Barbazan-Debat 11th June 2007.