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January 22, 1978

[JourneydeJenny email 1/09/07] "I'm going to Nairobi next week!"

~~ visit my blog: http://journeydejenny.blogspot.com ~~

Dear friends,

I have a one-way ticket to Nairobi next Tuesday! The World Social Forum
begins the following Saturnday (Jan. 20) -- my yearlong dream is coming true!

This past month (in Boston) has been full of preparations: working at a temp
job, getting vaccinations and plug adapters, and making the psychological
shift from local to global activism. I want to share with you my process of
(re)defining my goals and roles this year, the World Social Forum and Africa
in general.

I have hesitated to write because it’s all getting very personal. It was
easier to share about my experience in Tucson because in many ways it was
like Portland, so I was able to focus on the issues, strategies and people,
and less on my own process. Tucson for me was testing and solidifying the
experience of being a full-time networker, without my own project or personal

But going to Africa is a whole other situation. The many layers of
complexities have been sinking in, making me feel in some moments very small
and even frightened, and in other moments quite connected to all people in
“the struggle,” working to change this world. It has honestly been a
difficult month as I challenge my place in the greater scheme of activism.
The layers are complex: the role of generalists/networkers, the context of
privilege, the choices of whether or not to focus on a specific region or
issue… it’s a lot!

Though I am questioning what it means for a local-focused U.S. community
organizer to go to Africa, I am quite excited about the World Social Forum
(http://www.wsf2007.org/). I can’t wait to be surrounded by 100,000 (!)
activists from around the world and see what people are doing, what they’re
talking about, what they’re figuring out, how our work fits together. I am
excited to feel part of a global community.

I have written a whole bunch more in my blog
(http://journeydejenny.blogspot.com). I hope that my journey resonates with
each of you somehow, and I look forward to feedback and advice of any kind!
Please be in touch!

in community,

p.s. A second leg of my journey has evolved: after the World Social Forum in
Nairobi I will be heading to South Africa to meet my friend Deb Delman, of
the Pangaea Project, to help her plan her program’s summer delegation to
South Africa, focused on housing and homelessness
(http://www.thepangaeaproject.org/). Pangaea works with low-income teens in
Portland for a full year, first studying a particular theme and country, then
going to that country for a “reality tour” and service work, and then getting
involved with a related organization back home. So, in February, Deb
(Pangaea’s founder), Pangaea’s intern Laura and I will be doing the research
and laying the groundwork for their summer trip. I think that focusing on a
particular issue, in this case housing and homelessness, is a fabulous way to
learn about the nuances and complexities of a society as a whole (I am in for
a pretty serious reality check about the apartheid—was this really in my
lifetime?). This opportunity to work with Pangaea is great: 1) learn about
these issues, 2) experience the planning of a delegation for a dozen teens,
and 3) figure out how our trip (both in Feb. and this summer) can support the
work of activists in South Africa. This isn’t about “activist tourism,” it’s
about building real solidarity and challenging the layers of complexity
involved with people from the U.S. becoming allies with people in Africa. I
don’t yet know what this looks like.

And then I’ll have four or five months afterwards to go with the flow…
visiting people that I meet at the World Social Forum or following whatever
presents itself. The goal, again, is to challenge and open my understanding
of local/global activism, grassroots movement building and simply to make
(activist) friends in other countries.

See my blog for more! Http://journeydejenny.blogspot.com

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