he purpose of this staff-generated “Journal”
is to update readers on news from behind the scenes at Z’s
First, a little background: Z is incorporated as a non-profit, tax
exempt organization under the Institute for Social and Cultural
Communications (Z Communications, for short).
printed its first issue in January 1988. Since then, in addition
to the print magazine, we have expanded to include ZNet, Z Media
Institute, Z Video Productions, and
In creating Z Communications we hoped to accomplish three overarching
goals: (1) to publish critical information about U.S. institutions
(information often suppressed by mainstream media); (2) to publish
media that would reflect the diversity and breadth of left politics
and movements worldwide; (3) to publish material that would assist
activists in developing vision and strategy for radical social change.
Of those three goals, the third has been the hardest to accomplish.
We’ve tried to include vision and strategy in
on ZNet, in Z videos, and at Z Media Institute. We even started
a quarterly on vision and strategy called
, but had
to stop publication for lack of innovative, inclusive material.
Another effort to provide some answers to the question “What
do we want?” was attempted at the World Social Forum 2003 in
Porto Allegre—at WSF organizers’ request. ZNet staffer,
Michael Albert, organized 65 speakers for a series on “Life
After Capitalism” (LAC). Although the series was well done,
the Forum undercut the effort by failing to advertise LAC events
and by scheduling many of the talks at an impossible-to-find resort
miles from the main event.
International Project for a Participatory Society
ndaunted, this year Z Communications (inititated
by Albert) organized Z Sessions on Vision and Strategy (ZSVS) in
Woods Hole, Massachusetts from June 1-6. The goals of this
event were to “explore ideas about long-term visions; to reach
agreements and clarify persisting differences; to facilitate joint
projects; to consider continuing and enlarging group connections.”
The event was attended by 33 activists and writers from around the
world. Among those, 14 presented papers on various aspects of vision
and strategy—economy, politics, kinship, culture, and so forth.
The event was filmed with the goal of turning the sessions into
a book and DVD series.
During the final two days, the discussion turned to “considering
continuing and enlarging group connections.” To organizers
delight, the group was enthusiastic about continuing and voted to
create the International Project for a Participatory Society (IPPS),
which we defined as “a group of activists, writers, and media
producers committed to the basic principles of self-management,
equity, diversity, and solidarity. Our mandate is to generate, promote,
and support vision and strategy for a participatory society.”
Along with this mandate, we set up a structure and process to assist
in creating and soliciting content, support and work together on
material, prepare a budget, and create a website, which should be
in place by September. We also plan to have a program on vision
and strategy ready to present in a series of sessions at the U.S.
Social Forum in Atlanta, 2007.
While we are still getting organized around set-up and future expansion,
IPPS is accepting all manner of submissions on vision and strategy
for all aspects of a “participatory society”—education,
law, entertainment, etc., etc. These submissions on vision and strategy
could be in essay or interview format and include descriptions of
existing projects that are attempting to incorporate some or all
of the principles of a participatory society listed above.
interested in submitting papers to IPPS should contact [email protected]