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My comment-input on input#7b Future of "what" ? Elements about "formal" view of wsf process and ways forward for its facilitation by Pierre


@1 Here are some elements on a formal, but not formalistic, view of the forum process,  that has shaped throughout years of participation in “the kitchen” of the world social forum process “facilitation” since 2003.. They evolve with practice and discussion of course.

This “formal” view on WSF process has been developed, trying to answer the nagging questions “WHAT is WSF "process"? and HOW can it be what it is meant to be” . 

This view  has been evolved through continued practice and discussions, about WSF process understanding and implementation, performed and held with fellow social forum facilitators/participants, in WSF international council, and in facilitating committees for various WSF process manifestations.


There are two groups of anwers to the WHAT  question 

1/ @2 WSF is a tool, a space, an event,  a intercomunication process, "something genuinely new", that is collectively "understood" and "owned" by  a community of participants out of which develops a faciltating community, 

2/ @3 WSF is a "political subject", an actor, a mouvement of mouvements, an organization, or something that is no so different from an organization, hence with a " political leadership", that is at the end of the day qualifying to speak on its behalf  in direct or indirect ways ( see point 2) 


@4 This “formal view”  clearly takes answer #1 and  provides a basically optimistic perception about WSF potential to be a “ politically significant and relevant counter hegemonic intercommunication process towards another possible world”, based on quality and mutually dignifying dialogues between its participants,  many of them inmersed in altruist and socially creative and rewarding and exposing collective processes of struggles, campaigns, projects, initiatives for resistance and alternatives. 

So let us get  into this formal view about WSF process , in search for "ways forward" for the facilitation of said process , which would be in coherence with the initial formal  formulation of WSF  made explicit in WSF charter document


1/ WSF open space:  a formally coherent and powerful concept, useful for emancipation and counter hegemonic organizing, based on self-organized dialogues held in horizontality

@5 A first dimension of this formal viewpoint is about considering the “WSF open space” explicated in WSF charter of principles as a formal/organizational “innovation”. This innovation deserves being formalized, and developed further, as it opens a series of innovative practical perspectives linked to its horizontality and the permanent invitation to self-organization inside the participation formats. Which in turn allows a broad “ownership“ of the process and its decentralized “implementation”, based on a common understanding, developed through practice and formalization of the WSF open space global concept.

Indeed, WSF open space concept can be implemented  at different scales, local, national, regional, thematic, world, between people and organizations aspiring to another possible world, considering themselves as “participants” in this “process”, as both notions are described explicit in the Charter of principles, which is meant as reference document for this WSF process.


@6 The WSF Charter is a mere two page text with great coherence. Article 1 defines WSF as a “meeting place” and article 3 as a “process”. In the formulation of “nearly all” of its 14 articles the forum stands “syntaxically” as a space, a place, and not as an actor. (1) Wsf charter  http://openfsm.net/projects/ic-methodology/charter-fsm-wsf-en


@7 “Common understanding” implies hands on praxis, and developing discussions and understanding about some “notions” and a “vocabulary”. That is what “forum methodology” is about.  Something like producing a common “lexicon” or “glossary”,(2)  shared between a community of facilitating entities  or persons, with a diversity of hands on experience about “WSF process manifestations”, agreeing on this lexicon or glossary beyond their ideological, cultural differences, their diversity of goals and focuses(2)  Lexicon attemps  http://openfsm.net/projects/ic-methodology/wsf11-evalreco-disseminate-lexicon 


@8 And methodology is to be taken “seriously”, as clarity in notion is a condition for dissemination of a common understanding between as many people as possible, in order to upscale the size of the WSF process to counter hegemonic dimensions.

Indeed, in the past twenty years, and beyond many important changes in the world situation, hegemony of neoliberalism based on extractivism, inequalities and consumerism has not changed, and no other “potentially” decentralized  multi thematic and multi scale global counter hegemonic process has emerged.  


WSF methodology and political identity of WSF participant

@9 Methodology is about the formats and schedules in which, and through which the participants will bring and develop their social and political “contents” towards another possible world.


@10 “Contents” of all kind from exchange of experience, counter hegemonic information, alliance building, transformative initiative definition and action planning. With the understanding that each content that is collective enough, whether a solemn statement, the description of a resistance or transformative initiative, a dialogue report in a workshop, is issued in the name of, or under responsibility of, a specific array of participating collective entities.


Considered formally, this WSF process is a collective tool, an interrelation format, based on the individual and collective transformative virtues of dialogic situations. WSF is a place where collective organizing is promoted, while transformative dialogue occurs at individual level. @11 "Dialogic situations" are at the heart of this "counter hegemonic process", which can be useful to those willing to develop alliances between wide arrays of movements and NGOS.


@12 Asserting oneself as a “WSF participant” implies sharing the “generic participants values and goals”, made explicit in the Charter that ideologically locates the WSF forum space and process. Also it implies accepting the format of “open space that no one can speak in the name of”, as a behavioral methodological-political “compact” between participants and facilitators.


@13 At the time of internet the identity of WSF participant can be concretized by inclusion in interactive groups regardless of distance ,and practice of online participation on activities that are far away.   


WSF process manifestations

@14 WSF process may have various “manifestations“ of various “format”, proposed by a variety of facilitating committees. The most frequent is the “process-event” organized around a concentration in time and space (called “event”) of dialogic situations (called “activities”). There is a pre-event phase of several months, an event phase of a few days, and a post event phase (usually so far too weak).


@15 Another format of manifestation is “extension dynamics”, whereby a frame is proposed to make mutually visible and accessible, through online participation, a series of local encounters that are placed by their respective organizers as “activities” in WSF process, in a decentralized manner, without a central event to relate to.


@16 The decentralized  horizontal combination of WSF manifestations  (  process events and extension dynamics collecting local activities) form the overall WSF process, and the gathering in one common info /working space of existing facilitating committes for those manifestation is  the possible to vizualize  faciitating community ( FW7) 



@17 1A layers and phases diagram for a wsf process event diagram



 @18 1B overall process vision


Facilitating committees, and a potential "WSF facilitating community"

@19 Specific groups of “facilitators” get together and propose to participants, and implement, a “WSF open space process manifestation”, specific in time, place, and themes, to be used by WSF process participants, without being themselves, as facilitators, entitled to speak “in the name of that open space”. This looks evident, considering the WSF format formally, but in practice there are the “facilitator’s temptations” to “be ventriloquist that make a space speak“(see point 2)

WSF process manifestations are viewed as a tool-process-event-dynamics that are co-cared for by their respective “facilitators”, i-e those willing, beyond their “participation”, to contribute to the existence of the process and not just use it. Facilitation tasks are many, from organizing a facilitation committee of a WSF process manifestation to just being a volunteer for interpretation of an activity for instance.


@20  In that sense, WSF process appears as  a world scale  “common”, co sustained by a possible “WSF facilitating community”, qualified through practice and collective results obtained in implementation, which is linked by a common understanding of what is WSF process.

Reaching inside this potential  community  a high enough level of common views around a formal understanding  of WSF process , a high enough complicty through exchange of experience , a high enough capacity of work on identified  common interetst facilitation tasks ( such as updating a WSF process Calendar ,a high enough coherence in protocols for inclusion, discussions and decision  is a strategic goal for promotion of WSF process  


@21 The WSF international council which has been a fairly poor vehicle for developing this community could be moving in this direction, inasmuch its member entities would avoid “fast track temptations of representation” and focus decidedly  more facilitation energies on dialogue between facilitating experiences and a global process facilitation work plan. The inclusion in principle of confirmed WSF process manifestation facilitating committees, as member "entities" in the IC, next to original networks , is a step in this direction


@22 This formal description of WSF process is that of a conceptual dialogic frame and space, it is thus distinct, in nature, from a «movement of movements". Considering oneself, individual or collective entity, as a "WSF process participant", as the notion of “participant” and “process” are described in the WSF charter, become a “political identity” of its own kind and right.



WSF participant entities, investing in the forum space and tool

@23 Those entities willing to build broad and powerful alliances for powerful broad scale nonviolent citizen resistance and alternatives strategies and actions are welcome to use the WSF tool/common.

How entities view this tool and space, from their own political and cultural view point, and, more importantly, through clarifying dialogues with others participants/facilitators, (that they may have as they participate in some WSF manifestation), will determine their perceived relevance of this WSF format and their willingness to co-facilitate other WSF manifestations with other entities different from them.  


@24 The willingness of entities to “invest” in WSF process as a part of their entity strategy, the willingness of entities to co- sustain some WSF process manifestation as facilitators, without expecting to reap quick and direct benefits from this, are then key for possibilities to involve more entities in facilitation and promotion of WSF process, and thus upscale the WSF process to counter hegemonic dimension.


2/ Facilitation and Participation:  a crucial distinction

@25 A second dimension of this formal view on WSF process is highlighting the difference between:

-“facilitating" a WSF process manifestation,  i-e defining and implementing/scheduling from a facilitation committee "formats of participation" accessible to participant entities in a given manifestation of WSF "open space", and,

-"participating" in a WSF process manifestation, though and beyond individual interactions in dialogues, producing "contents" in the name of collective entities, and hopefully in the name of alliances of entities of whatever size that can be achieved along shared goals.



@26  “The political dimensions in WSF open space are between participating entities”, and are not with facilitating tasks. This explain why there has been, throughout the years,  inside the WSF international council a decided resistance to “temptation from facilitators for making the WSF space talk”, whatever the alleged justifications may be, and there have been many.(3)  (3)    WSF: open space or organization? :  http://openfsm.net/projects/wsfic_fsmci/salvador17-input18/#EN 

This is not because of a “de-politicization orientation”, on the contrary, this is abiding by the WSF methodological-political compact between participants and facilitators, and keeping the participants the only political actors, building alliances inasmuch they can.


Facilitation Distance and Term  

@27 Facilitation implies taking some "distance" with the contents - just being positionned  by all the charter particpants generic  values and goals and only those  and working on the formats. Also investing in the forum faciltation  implies a longer term investment no expectiing quick returns of the collective effort because of the ambition. it is not about mobilization it is about articulation 


 Formal and political Distorsions : Making the space talk

@28 There are several ways to “make the WSF open space talk”, as if “the forum” were a political subject or a collective actor:

“WSF spokepersonism” is about making declaration with political content as spokesperson or spokes group, with assumed legitimacy to do so. It can be the facilitating committee of a specific WSF process manifestation, or it can be the WSF international council itself.  By mixing facilitating role and political role, this breaks the methodological-political compact between participants and facilitators


@29  “WSF assemblyism” is when some activities with assembly status in the WSF space are being promoted as more important than others by the facilitating committee itself , and made to produce making statements, many time non signed by anyone , being given special forum-wide visibility and legitimacy.  This is another break of the methodological-political compact between participants and facilitators, putting many WSF process participants, that either are  not participating in that assembly or are, but are  reduced by the assembly format itself to “applause or not applause” expression,  in either case are being put in a  “consent by default situation”


@30 "WSF agendaism" is when a specific process is designed   by faciltators involving  participants to produce an "agenda of  the forum"  linked to it and being a prescriptive content for its participants thus narrowing the invitation to the open space to those agreeing to this agenda. In a way this comparable  the global  positioning  of  WSF open space, by value and generic goals of participants.  anyway  agenda is  more concrete than generic goals and this is 1/ less inclusive , and  2/ may be leading to formats of collective action in the name of the forum wiht all the related problems of representation decions etc. The forum as a space is not defining agendas..  


@31 “ WSF ventriloquism” is when some people inside the facilitating committee for  a WSF manifestation are writing anonymously a political enunciate, meant to capture and put words on the participants vision and  expectations, and spread it as stemming from “the forum”.  


@32 These are fast-tracks to ephemeral political visibility which distort the WSF space format and feed among the participants the perception that “the forum is a political actor”, the big brother that will help them


@33 Promoting WSF as “a space meant for political expression of participants entities and their alliances built patiently from below” is a longer, challenging, empowering, demanding, and eventually much more powerful track to political visibility of those alliances . see the part 5  quality of situations in WSF process event and   part 6 caring about WSF process –event


@34 diagram about WHAT is WSF and facilitators




3/ An intercommunication process more useful through new formats for those acting for another possible world

@35 In the heat of 2003 WSF there was a miserable unattended “mural of proposals” consisting in a few thin horizontal metal poles affixed in a wood wall, and from where a dozen “proposals” inserted in a plastic sheet were hanging in general indifference. It was shamefully covered with a blank sheet on the last two days of the event. This can be seen the starting point for implementing article 7 of WSF charter The World Social Forum undertakes to circulate such decisions widely by the means at its disposal, without directing, hierarchizing, censuring or restricting them, but as deliberations of the organizations or groups of organizations that made the decisions.. And how far have we got since then?


@36 A third dimension of these formal views on WSF is the perceived necessity for, and possibility of, introducing in WSF methodology more “participating formats” accessible to participants in WSF open space.  Those formats complete the dominant format in the mental representation of the forum in the past 20 years which is “ self-organized dialogic face to face ACTIVITY placed in a WSF process event” , when this “activity” format is linked to face to face meetings  not to on line meetings,  and  linked to discussion, not to action


Encounters and initiatives

Here are two formats that can be promoted and developed by facilitating committees

@37 -“online encounters” placed in “thematic open spaces” long before a social forum event. These self-organized encounters are "all purpose" and flexible intercommunication vehicles  usable for exploring issues, valuing local activities, informing about why and how participate in the forum, maturing and articulating announcements of activities and initiatives that will be proposed in an upcoming social forum event, following up locally on public action dates planned in announcement of initiatives etc.

This format allows to develop “online participation” which is one of the great changes occurred in the past 20 years


@38 -“announcement of initiatives"( i-e struggles, campaigns, projects of all kinds, that stand up in resistance and in alternative to neoliberal hegemony with its local alliances of actors and ideologies. This format is a useful vehicle for making visible the dimension of social and political action planning in WSF participants dialogues, which is so far kept informal and “inside” activities.

Once visible, “initiatives” can be promoted and presented in “activities” and gather token of interest or support from many WSF participants along the unfolding of a WSF process manifestation.

This format maybe the vehicle of broad alliances and develop into powerfully supported decentralized action dates and campaigns that are part of the imaginary and “promise” of WSF.  

The format of initiative comprises announcement of a few "public action dates", which stimulates strategy and planning discussions among participating entities willing to use it


@39 Diagram about formats





Kiosk, Agora, Calendar : New Formats in a face to face event and its formal moment

@40 In a WSF process manifestation,  facilitating committee can develop and implement formats  of horizontal  spaces-moments with many interaction between particpants take place,  A  “kiosk of initiatives” expanded at the end of the process-event in an “agora of futures”,  can be space -moments   when  initiative promoters.exchange among themselves and with participants seeking for articulations and support.


@41 A “calendar of futures” specific to this manifestation can be assembled with all the public action dates, contained in the initiatives announced. This format can be shown under format of a live calendar of futures, expressing unity in diversity. Its web version can be examined using thematic, scale, area, language filtering, but without prioritization.


@42 From this material, accessible in the calendar, some initiative groups/alliances can evolve, in their own name, some “agendas”, with a political enunciate and a series of prioritized initiatives, and propose those agendas to the explicit and voluntary support from WSF participants.

That is an expression of open space horizontality: those alliances promoting an agenda are using the same initiative format as alliances promoting a specific initiative, and no one speaks in the name of the WSF space  


@43 See conclusion of Agora and intiatives working group in international council in november 2017 




@44 4/ Participation Circles  and openspace Disk  diagram

This diagrams gives a rather coherent view of open space ( the disk)  its limit ( the announcement of initiatives,  and what is taking place inside it  ( encounters activities ) and outside it (public action dates, and ongoing  operation of participants and their alliances and coalition

From center to periphery of the diagram

Circle of on line encounters in online  thematic space where participants gather by interest at the beginning of the process and start intercommunicating on line  through self organized encounters wiht a variety of perspectives n many maturing activities and initiatives

Circle of activities not focusing on  initiatives more popular education information,  exchange of experience

Circle of activities discussing initiatives, présentation, articulation, action planning etc..

Agora of Futures  final moment of interactions around initiatives  ( presentation, articulation, support) 

Calendar and succession of  public action dates  



 Element 5 missing is "facilitation"  

The arrow is the "promise" of the forum   the generic participation route,  from participation  to actions

Encounters is the participation format for the proces layer ( first layer of  layers and phases diagram above)

Activities and initiatives are the participation formats for the event preparation layer and the event itself  ( second and third layer layers and phases diagram 

Agora of future in the common format for event final moment, and Calendar of futures is the  mediatic container for the event and  fueling the post event period 



5/  Other significant aspects for quality of the dialogues and interactions and dissemination of the wwsf process

@45 The dimension of “popular education”, empowerment of organizations and dignification of WSF participants through personal expression in self-organized dialogues is not developed in this input, but is quite important at individual and collective level, and contribute to the WSF process counter hegemonic dimension.  The methods used for the quality of collective dialogue can be varied and creative.


@46 Self-documentation of the dialogues held in the forum is essential, for pedagogic dissemination. Self-organized coverage of one’s activity and mutual training in “communicating the forum” in participants entities respective networks are a way to counter the lack or distortion of coverage by mainstream media. These are dimensions of active participation.


@47 Empowerment / dignification is about developing self organization and  voluntary participation acts at collective or individual levels

Empowerment : One principle in the open space is that all entity participation acts are voluntary ( taking co-responsibility to prepare an activity or announce and promote an initiative, o discsussing articulation, of signing statements or expression of interest or support   and the same for  individual participation acts ( choosing activities where to participate, choosing initiative to support)  

inside activities and initiatives the organizing culture of the responsible entities prevail.


@48 Outside  self organized activities and in common moments proposed by facilitating committees the format is based on free volunteer act and dialogue - The task of faclitators is not to "manufacture consent"  it is to empower participants 

The format of agora of futures where participants visit the initiative promoting groups they choose and decide whether to support them or not is way more empowering than the format of an hypothetic assembly  of thousands where de facto the inmense majority of attendees are placed in a passive and silent consent by default situation.




6/ @49  Diagram Caring about WSF process :

Some  "areas" of methodological work placed in the layer and phase diagram where to improve  quality and political significance of  WSF process events

The combination of elements  exposed  so far allow to get a vision of what needs to be done to improve the WSF process event  ( and other WSF manifestation)  





 @50 How do these 5 work areas combine for enhancing political significance?


Political significance of the WSF process can be  enhanced by: 

A/- Ownership of "core process methodology " by participants  thanks to methodological and logistical care from facilitating committee 1+ 3 + 4 + 5 :

1 Participants are informed about the methodology , and there is a clever effort ot outreach to many networks proposing early zero budget participation format on line - that is counter hegemonic organizing through corporate social media, and available non corporate tools 

1 participants with a political expectation and goals star early and maturing  on line  from below  co-preparation of activities and alliances, in online thematic spaces, with efficient support and stimuation from facilitating commitee

3 Alliances for action  are visible through the initiative format  with  1 to 3 significant "public action date". This is stimulating strategic planning and  discussions about the format of non violent actions , also  agenda initiative are worked in parallel to specific initiatives

4 Clarity and quality in the final acceleration and culmination of initiaive articulation and initiative support  interactions, with clear cut protocol of  agora and calendar of futures

5 Proactive follow up to stimulate  among their promoters public action dates  confirmation and support gathering


@51 Participation formats : Relationships between Encounter Activities  Initiatives  Action dates



@52 B/- Participant care about : -Media visibiliity - on line participation inclusion - popular education content 

2 -Participants virally communicating the forum with social media  in all their networks and countering the comparative silence or inappropriate coverage in hegemonic mainstream media  

2  Face to face  participants are including online participants in their activities in the event

4 mediatic dissemination of WSF calendar of futures with filters and  agenda initiatives

5  Participants documenting their activities  and disseminating them - WSF as popular university

5 participant promoting their public actions dates and caling for local support groups in case of decentralized actions 


FW7 What can be  a facilitating community ?

@53 The nearest thing to a “community of facilitating entities”, is a facilitating committee for a specific  WSF process manifestation ( event or extension dynamics FW1), where transfer of experience acquired in previous committees is a crucial factor.   Fostering exchange of experience between such committees is certainly a strategic necessity for the coherence and consolidation of an overall  WSF process facilitating community.


1/ Which role of WSF  IC in relation to emergence of an overall process facilitating community ?  

The role  of WSF international council in relation to the vision of constituting an overall WSF process facilitating community has been problematic and needs discussion and clarification:

@54 a/ in its creation in 2001, networks where appointed as members of IC, more as potential participants entities, ”consumers” of an annual WSF event organized by a distinct committee. So it was not started as a group based on its ability to take full responsibility for a WSF event, as is a facilitating committee. A good number of representatives inside it, but not all, have been instrumental in facilitating some WSF manifestation, but that is not a requirement to join this council.   


@55 b/The level of commitment of the IC member entities to care about the process has not been discussed. That is why many representatives only think in personal terms and consider they, personally, have not time to dedicate  to WSF beyond meetings, and their option is  resorting to a “IC secretariat” for any practical task, instead of looking inside their organization for other people to sustain, with their guidance, lasting and self sustained IC working groups able to “ perform task”  for  the development of the WSF process


@56 c/ The perceived legitimate scope of international council has remained focused on the World event, and consequently the reflexion on “what is the overall WSF process” and “how to facilitate it from iC ”, has not been developed. This was visible in 2009 when the council failed to create a tangible global dynamics interlinking a series of social forum events in the year 2010 (FW9) and in a discussion in 2017 on the issue of IC dynamics (FW8). 


@57 In this context it is not surprising  that IC meetings have formally dedicated only 30mn to IC tasks in 15 years (see below)   while there have been many hours on discussing world situation. Commissions have stopped in 2012 and attempt to propose development of  operative  IC work groups stumble on the fact that there is no discussion on the level of commitment of entities.


@58 With the 2018 decision to include “National regional and thematic social forum facilitating committees” in the council, IC could move towards being closer to overall WSF process facilitating body . That would still require the  member entities to define the level of facilitating energy that they can dedicate to the process facilitation, beyond their representatives in the council. 


@59 2/  Snapshot on missions of IC - some hints about  which would be contents of  a  facilitating community  workplan ?

In 15 years the council has discussed its tasks 30mn in Casablanca in 2013 . That is not much and that is part of the WSF problem


Discuss political geopolitical context in order to contextualize wsf process -

There have been many such discussions in meeting but not much has been derived from those

Sustain Methodological discussion on how to organize events , sustain processes and initiatives – that is the core “how to” activities FW1 FW3 FW4

Facilitate dialogue between local and global struggles and alternatives - not discussed much, with examples

Facilitate linkage between regional forums processes– creating self organized space for exchange of experience between facilitators is a work group task for the facilitating community or the ic -nothing fancy but it does not yet exist, and the coming of national and thematic scale facilitating committees might make this a natural activity in the IC

Identify tasks/issues about concretely facilitating wsf process and launch/review work of open contributive groups addressing those tasks/issues - this requires  evolving  a  common enough  vision of the proces, of relevant faclitating  tasks and of the fact that IC members entities can take up task – that is where the facilitating community is empowered or  not FW6 FW7

Spread knowledge on wsf charter and process – this is what evolving a WSF porcess formal view is about:  communicating the forum with proper words and notions that help WSF participant build their ownership of it and disseminate it

Develop and promote use of appropriate Communication tools there lies the issue of "online participation" in the process at large ( beyond face to face participation ) and " initial participation" in the WSF event process FW1A FW6

Define date and place and format of WSF events ( in co-responsability with  willing facilitating committee) this decision is both pragmatic and strategic ,  the level of support from local governement to WSF event has been varied  from  big support to ideolgical and logistical opposition 

Monitor and contribute to Practical organization of wsf events (in co responsibility with faciliating committee) - in 15 years there has been no "standard" level of commitment  discussed whether to facilitating taks or to participation dynamics. So it is quite possible to have in the post event IC meeting, expressions from IC members who have not contributed to faciltiation/perparation  and not oraganized activities in the event. It is problematic to be supposed to  care about something you do not care concretely for 

Finance IC activities/meetings  the IC  has a poor record of support to the overall process and is not very attractive financial support for its  stand alone meetings. The meetings have  them been less frequent and increasingly  linked to WSF process manifestations 

Monitor financing of WSF events   that is a formal role  for WSF world event financial transparency.  


3/  @60 "Dynamics of IC" an exploration and a  proposal in 2017 for a facilitating community operation  

Document presented, the verbal presentation and the one hour discussion following it are available  in this link  http://openfsm.net/projects/transitionci/transicionci-porto-alegre-agenda-input-on-dynamics-of-ic  . 
 This could be updated while ermains a possible basis of discussion for the  mode of operation for a WSF overall process facilitating community  


FW8 Ways forwards towards an effective WSF process facilitating community

@61 Splitting scenario - open space and movement apart 

Let us consider a scenario with an ongoing WSF dialogic process, consistent with the formal view exposed , coexisting with a  self institututed  sustained “WSF related movement” derived from participation in WSF process and making in its own name statement of goals and calls for action (mentioned in @9)

A “business as usual” WSF process event would not be so attractive, while the inclusion of new methodological formats, clearly communicated with an empowering narrative could raise more interest

A “WSF related movement” would take some time to emerge: satisfactory internal protocols for decision and representation,  if possible to be found, would have to be determined

Now let us concentrate on the relations between, the WSF process, this WSF related movment, and the coalitions from below  stimualted in the WSF process

There would be articulation /redundancy issue with the “coalitions built from below” in the WSF space. If the open space methodology is communicated, shared, owned and productive, there would be more coalitions, and this “WSF related movement”, with no specific added legitimacy, should be diplomatic and not arrogant in proposing to articulate them.

There would be a pressure issue in the relation of this WSF related movement with the WSF events facilitation committee. This WSF related movement might be tempted, because of its alleged proximity to WSF process, to promote unduly its goals and its agenda in the WSF open space , of which it would be one participant among others.

To justify its existence this WSF related movement would have to make a narrative involving the WSF process and the coalitions from below. He would be tempted to stress that original WSF concept is unefficient to addressing properly the notion of action, at the moment when there would/could be effort to explore possibilities to combine reflecting and action (FW3 FW4)

This WSF related movement would want to also be part, maybe, of the facilitating community  of the WSF process

The movement would have to demonstrate above all its relevant social existence, not just through discussions in the WSF open space , not just through pretending to be  articulating coalitions from below,  but its organizational and political existence in the social arena all year round .

It would be pressed to take positions on political issues , when the WSF facilitating community would not. There would be a need to avoid confusing the communication of this movement and the communication of facilitators of WSF open space process, and the communication of coalitions from below

So this hypothesis of linking  somehow the WSF name to one specific movement , might be creating many redundancies and ambiguities. It looks wiser for those willing to get to a big agenda stemming out of WSF process  to develop one or more “agenda initiative”, that they would  mature with a cluster of “coalitions from below”,  possibly being a place for merging of some of these coalitions . This initiative would not be in the name of,  nor with specific formal relation  with the WSF facilitating community, even if of course entities contributing to WSG facilitation community could  be proactive in this initiative 


@62 Cohesive Scenario  – staying together  by abiding a cooperation compact

A second scenario is “staying in cohesion as WSF process facilitators”

It would amount to  discussing, agreeing and abiding by  a “common  intra faciltiation compact”,  in order to  avoid counterproductive “neutralization”  and  rather develop pragmatic synergy between

Facilitators A, willing to maintain WSF openspace  and develop its untapped potential ( FW3 FW4 FW6), in continuity and coherence with WSF charter of principles, as it is

Facilitators B, formerly tempted to introduce some dosis of verticalism in WSF process and or change the charter,( FW2)  because they want political results, to face  the  political emergency they perceive

This “intra facilitation compact” would be inducive to work in a complementary manner inside and outside : 1/ the upcoming next   WSF process-event facilitating committee, and others WSF process manitestations to come and 2/ the IC


@63 1/ in a specific  WSF process-event facilitating committee facilitators agree to the following: ( a first approach) 

Facilitators A  are ready to dedicate energy to evolve and develop implement in the WSF facilitating community, common participation formats with respect to participants freewill, and accumulated experience (eg the initiative and agora working group 2017) . They work on the core methodology and the common moments and other quality issues (FW3 FW4 FW6). They might participate in their entities name in the building of some coalitions.

Facilitators B renounce to spend energy to introducing “verticalism” in the WSF process and “make the space speak”,(FW2) to which facilitators A would resist anyway.

They agree to dedicate mainly their energy to build, outside the facilitating committee, with their specific “participant hat”, in an anticipated way so as to be mature at event time,  specific “powerful alliances from below”, organizing initiatives for  decentralized massive  public actions . An example of such coalitions can be building a permanent “assembly of struggles” ready to participate in WSF space with promotion of  strong initiatives and not pretending to be “the” main assembly there)

Facilitators A commit that the common moments and formats give “equitative visibility to all” and “show objectively the respective strength of the coalitions formed” along the formats proposed, They will propose formats and macro programing for consensus to facilitators B

Facilitators B commit that those coalitions (that they will be building, using at best the WSF process and methodology/formats, and helping facilitators A by testing this formats),  will coexist respectfully between themselves in the WSF space process and with smaller initiatives, using the participation acts that will be provided and having of course their own  internal self organization  dynamics

Facilitators B will consult among themselves to work in one or more “agenda initiative” towards articulations between some of those “coalitions from below in the making”, and without speaking in the name of the forum

Facilitators A and B commit to cooperate in outreaching , in communicating the forum, in suggesting articulations in the programing and coalition/initiative process , in agreeing on the methodology in full coherence with the WSF charter

Facilitators A and B will share ideas and effort to evolve on one side the facilitating committee narrative to communicate the forum to generic participants ,  and contribute on the other the coalitions narrative to communicate the forum to their constituencies

Both facilitators A and B  agree that : 

1/ it is more effective to combine those efforts described above with the common goal to revamp the  WSF process both with innovative formats  and with higher level of coalitions with transformative agenda stemming out of the forum process, than engaging in a coexistence split  as described in 

2/ the size of the WSF process (through the number and size of the process-evenst) might remain modest in the coming years and be not up to the challenges of the times, because it is not easy to make up for the cumulatve effect  insufficient energies dedicated and insufficient  coordination in the past years  around  WSF process

3/ it is through their coordinated respective action inside and outside of the WSF process event facilitation committee,  along the lines above, through  quality of outreach, through support to articulation inside coalitions, through clarity of open space methodology and through quality of  info to participants,  that the political efficiency of the forum, both in the general counter hegemonic sense , and in the sharper political sense of the specific coalitions envisioned  can be obtained


@64 2/ in and around IC, facilitators will cooperate on the following tasks (a first approach)

Warm and informative Inclusion of representatives of WSF process manifestation facilitating committees

Mapping the willingness and capacities of IC member entities, and others to contribute to overall WSF process facilitation,

Discussing an overall work plan for facilitating WSF process, owned by faciltators Sustaining among those member entities a series of working groups performing

Defining a generic protocol for conducting  online or in face to face  IC meetings / facilitation community meetings around a WSF process facilitation community , with orientation of a common working plan, regularly assessed,  and a periodic review of IC member entities level of commitment 

I is not such an ingenuous move to propose to review and comment in the near future those two  scenarios in the frame of the IC included its new member  committees , coming next to member entities .   





@65 FW9 Quick History of WSF methodology 

 “Wsf event every year of two years?” “self-organize!” “How to end the even ( part1)” - 2004-2008.

in 2005,there was a relatively consensed mainstream option to build  WSF event exclusively on self-organized activities, but there was a tension on how to end it. Which was visible in 2005 with two endings  a marche and some symbolic interventions with the exhibiition of a mural of proposals collected from the self organized actiities, withtout sufficient ownership and care to build a follow up process 

Methodologically this cycle ended productively in copenhaguen IC which 1/ instituted the idea of a diversity of self organized convergence assemblies for action, of which the “assembly of social movements" that was proposed by some as the concluding format, would be one assembly  among others, 2/ finalized and published a first version of “ guiding principles for organizing a WSF event “ , and 3/ invited those who could not travel to next WSF venue to organize local activities and make teleconference activities with their delegates or other counterparts in the WSF venue

in WSF Belem 2009, there was some care about facilitating thematic spaces and making suggestions for articulations to participants

This compromise between space and movement supporters instituted a diversity of “convergence assemblies for action” in WSF event, but did not solve the daunting equation of the event final moment, on the plate of IC since the beginning of the process 

The discussion on WSF event frequency(  one year or two years?) , and on the ending of the WSF Event drained a lof of energies, this has kept the IC unprepared to “think the overall process” especially in 2009 when preparing a “global year of action for 2010” 


@65B Methodological stall in 2009

In 2008 there was an encouraging experience of the decentralized “global week of action” , called for by a call drafted in the international council, and issued not as IC with the signature of many movements and organization, which also showed the necessity to develop on line intercommunication.

Despite the 2008 experience, the international meeting in Montreal in 2009 showed the incapacity, practical and conceptual, to evolve a way to make tangible the "WSF proces"s along o proclaimed “global year of action” with a succession of 10 to 20 social forum events. This could have been done for instance through a common website collecting action proposals and information produced by wsf participants. The energy and capacity was not there.   


@65C Also there were tensions, but  without a mature  collective discussion around the notion of communication in and of the forum, Retrospectively the underlying options could be summarized as: 1/ develop a team of professionally trained communicators  2/, stimulate  network of alternate media as communicators   3/ focusing effort on stimulating participating organizations to handle in a decentralized way the “communication of the forum”, based on a clear  common methodological understanding conveyed through a narrative evolved in a WSF facilitating community 


@65D 10 years of methodological under-activity  2010 2018

2010 to present has been a lost decade for WSF process methodology.  After logistical chaos of Dakar, showing IC incapacity in detecting  the logisitical problems and helping the facilitting committee and after poor attendance in Dhaka( first IC in Asia after Mumbai)   there was a stoppage of IC commissions

Methodology commission stopped in early 2012 and no collective energy was dedicated to think the methodology further than the “compromise of Copenhagen 2008”. .

Attempts to develop a methodology for the WSF event final moment, an issue unresolved since 2001 were made in 2013 2015 2016  2018  but countered by other priorities or by other visions. 

Also, as a collective, the WSF-IC reflection left unexplored, methodologically, the notion of “online participation” and the “use of social networks” which are crucial for quality and upscaling of the process 

From 2015 onwards, there has been levels of neutralization between:

1/ temptations to transform IC in a WSF spokes group and develop “assemblyism”, and thus revise the WSF Charter,

2/ mere resistance to those attempts or temptations, and keeping the space horizontal 

3/ resistance plus attempts to a: develop new areas of methodology around “methodology of initiatives” b/  early use of “interactive social networks” in a WSF process event. c/ move towards a faciltating community 

Accumulated lack of methodology discussion and neutralization of efforts has the price of :

1/ proposing to participants a somehow routine WSF event  vision, without consensed "core "novelties, (as introduction of a methodology of initatives can be)  and

2/ giving the image of a static process with aging “counsellors” self referenced in byzantine talks

The unfolding effects of 2008 crisis both political and financial for NGOs and social movements  have also  been detrimental.to getting funds to organize working meetings 

Analysis of the fading away of  continental  process who faded away ( European, South American, USA )  were not shared in the methodological discussion.

The IC collective methodological vision remained “ basically) limited to the WSF event., and with a sistematic impulsion to  resortin  to  a "secretariat" for anything beyond plenary discussions - See 2017 porto alegre discussion around "dynamics of IC"  proposal (F

Interesting Bogota discussion in 2019 on the level of commitment of IC member entities



FW10 Relationships between formats and contents, and political intentions of facilitators

 @66 in a WSF process-event

The valuing of methodology in WSF process is downplayed  by the assertion from some facilitators  that  “politics ( meaning political intention of WSF event facilitators?)  should determine (WSF process event ) methodology and not vice versa”.  

Does it mean that political intentions by facilitators of a given WSF manifestation should determine the participation formats ? 

Here are three underlying questions that are commenting on this statement


@66B 1/ up to which point are facilitators legitimate/able to impose a colorization fof the WSF event  beyond the positionning around WSF charter ? 
Objetives of  facilitators as such are about  perceived quality and relevance of the process, in both popular education and political aspects  by its particpants in their diversity   

The channels through which facilitators  can "colorize  with contents"  the multi-thematic World Scale event. are comparatively modest :

a/ invitation that needs to be consensed in the facilitating commitee in coresponsibility with IC and "slogan" which are usually rather generic both can stay on the perimeter of the charter, and mention more specific objectives as those of some participants  . 

b/  formulation of 10 to 30  thematics  meant to cover all-thematics  and be 

c/  outreach to some active participants that will contribute actvely their content in the WSF open space, but without  dominance 

d/ act themselves as participants 


@67 2 / Will it be that the set of participation formats defined and implemented by the facilitators for the WSF process-event depends a lot on the content projected by the facilitators who want to animate the process? 

Or rather that it is quite generic in social forums, as part of a historical accumulation that evolves slowly, based on experience and consistency with dimensions of the charter of principles


@68 3 / Could it be that the generic participation  formats are "constraining" the production political content by the participants  in the forum 

those format rather  express / reflect quite significantly several dimensions of the WSF process such as horizontality  and leave autonomy and responsibility over the production of content to participants?

 In the framework of the WSF process and values ​​promoted in the charter of principles, it can be argued that  the contents statements and coalitions vuild from below  are largely  INDEPENDENT from the formats, 

These formats rather reflect   autonomy and empowerment of participants , stimulate, horizontal intercommunication and articulations wills between participants,  which is the main  "promise" of the forum. They are not prescriptive of what  content will be produced 

They also play an educational role stimulating behaviours and practicies  like : early participation to mature contents and alliances ,  online inclusion of more participants,   self documentation,  dissemination of communication of and about the forum,    planning of public actions when speaking of initiatives


@69  “Background” discussion on the relationship between formats of participation and content produced in the forum space

It is important to exchange between facilitators / participants, about how the various “forms of participation in the process / event” are to stimulate, enable, and not constrain the contents on which these participants want to communicate with others in the forum.

These formats are defined by facilitators, with discussions and experiments, in relation to the WSF Charter of Principles. These formats are used autonomously and with more or less creativity and determination by the participants according to their own goals of participation in the forum.

There is a slow “accumulation” of collective experience of almost 20 years, of which the CI-FSM is a caretaker.

It can be argued that, in a variety of contexts, a diversity of expectations of facilitating organizations in relation to the event-process forum can be compatible with using the same “set of formats of participation”, slowly evolving, by trial and error, in the development trajectory of the WSF process .


@69B Practical consequence

In this case, based on the experience of accumulated facilitation, there is no valuable reason to  FIRST  have talked about "forum contents" "between facilitators",  and ONLY THEN , define a macroprogramming and the set of formats of participation proposed to participants.

Facilitators in the  WSF process  have, as facilitators, a limited impact on the forum contents that are determined first by “presences”  of participants and not by facilitators, 

In other words, the “accumulation of the WSF methodology” is largely relevant regardless of the local context, and the expectations / objectives of the facilitators in a WSF process event edition.

There is not a" start from scratch" in each WSF process-event.  The formal model of a process event is quite stable, because it has to do with the values ​​of horizontality, diversity, empowerment more than with the contents etc, the formats and sequences are consistent with values ​​and rules from an already long experience, which can be complemented, but cannot be ignored.

The consequence of this is that facilitators can focus on communicating and stimulating the process towards the event in advance, describing formats and macroplans through which intercommunications between participants will take place on topics and contents in activities and initiatives self-organized of self-promoted by them.


@70  Note: If we take the example of the WSF18, in the end, the formats used have been the "classic" ones, and the discussions / tensions in the IC have concentrated on distortions on the format of assemblies and equity between them and on the format of the final moment of the forum or the visibility of its results, a topic that has been on the list of tasks of the WSF-IC since Belem 2009 unfinished.


@71 What then can be the facilitator options?

Within the framework of the WSF accumulation in the forum-space perspective there are many options, among which

1/ outreach to specific groups and presence, as their specific presence will stimulate specific contents. the most significant influence on contents that facilitators may have is probably through outreach

2 / Seek educational and political quality: Focus on contributing to / stimulating the quality of preparation and intercommunication in activities,

3 / Give strong priority in macro programming to assemblies, or not.It is common that some facilitators advocate at the beginning to give a strong priority in the macro programming to articulation assemblies, hoping to stimulate the production of political results.

It should be remembered that mechanically, in an event limited in time to a few days, this prioritization is done at the expense of time for activities of smaller size, more participatory, of the popular education type.

Balance the time of small activities and the time of articulation activities. (assemblies, agora of futures), taking as criteria to maintain a diversity of options for the participants. Maintain the character of open space, welcoming for various motivations or desires for participation.

The two types of activities are important, the individual empowerment of participants and small organizations, deep interactive discussions are carried out in popular education activities. These intercommunications prepare and feed activities that their promoters see as numerically and politically more ambitious.<

4 / Stimulate decentralized creativity in the forms of activities. Reflect on “number of participants and participatory character” (in one assembly, only one person speaks at a time, when there are parallel groups or other devices more people interact), also reflect on stimulating articulations between cultural or artistic intercommunication and expression (it was the intention of global social creativity in Montreal 2016 that was unsuccessful)

5 / Include distant participants Problems of distance participation (in local activities placed in SDP or activities placed in “large” events)

6 / Include evening local participants: example Large media-pedagogical conferences in limited numbers, at night in Montreal for people leaving work


@72 FW11 Example of neutralizations aruond what could have been compatible efforts :

Taking the 2018 example . Around WSF2018, three methodological-political “projects” where on the table

1/starting a permanent assembly of struggles, having an initial session in the  WSF2018 event

2/promoting as a climax of the event a "World assembly of people movement and territories in resistence", and inviting to bring “ proposal of post event incidence” to that assembly

3/ proposing introduction of” initiatives” as a participation format distinct from “activities” and using this format at the final moment of the event in an “agora of futures” producing  a “calendar of futures” in accordance with article 6 and 7 of the charter ( see the agora and initiative working group (FW3) 

Aliances between those promoting or opposing those various projects were varied.

Those advocating the Agora 3 where pointing that they had nothing against project 1 as long at is was presented as a self organized”” activity , and did no pretend to be backed by IC , 
They criticized project 2 for being “asemblyism” ie unduly promoting a specitic activity which was self organized and distorting WSF space, and the refusal to implement/promote the notion of initiative in the methodology , its absence in the  website and in the comunication generating lack of ownership of the agora - downgraded to a symvolic event and not the final carrier of contents

Those who supported project 2 allied with those supporting project 1 . Together they did not give the clarification that this was self orafgnized assembly which had no prominent role in the wsf 2018 methodology

Also those opposing the distorsion of 1 or 2  did not all show practical support to option 3

In the end the result was neutralization

A low key assembly 1+2 disappointing in size and in content for its own promoters  (there is experience record of assemblies in WSF to “measure” this assembly compared to others  ). however the Agora option had no way to influence the quality of the  assembly. Maybe lack of communication between 1 and 2 contributed to the frustrating implementation  of this assembly wth too many expectations 

A low key agora of futures in a day when many brazilian  participants had left and  with no popular attendance from brasil . As it was the first implementation of a new concept for tackling with the end of forum issue staying unresolved since 2001 it is encouraging. The lack of support and non inclusion  of initiative in the WSFevent methodology contributed to the downgrading of  the idea 

Instead of this neutralization a clear self organized assambley of struggles might have taken place and a more  vibrant agora could have been prepared  



@73 FW12 Formal view taking shape through practical facilitating contributions

Contributing hands-on in successive events on various aspects linked to the dialogic/methodology core of the forum process, trying to improve its quality and possibility to upscale has helped refine views and concepts

Stimulation of self-documentation of activities (2003),

 collection of “proposals for transformative action” made in self-organized activities (2005-6) ,

 thinking about a process website, co-drafting version of the “guiding principles for organizing a WSF event” (2005-2008),

welcoming “local” activities for those who could not come to forum event (2009),

stimulating self-managed opening of activities to on line participation (2011 -2015),

focusing on the articles 6 and 7 of the charter and how to implement them on the final moment of an event,(2013-2018),

facilitating “extension dynamics” as a WSF process manifestation for participants in between events(2016-18),

using interactive groups in social networks as a tool for the intercommunication layer of the process-event

( 2018-19) . formalizing a methodology of initiatives ( 2015-2019)

This continuous flux of hand on experience in the real context of social forum events has allowed to forge a heartening view of the forum potential as a multiscale counter hegemonic process