Invitation to the Network In Common for the Empowerment of Solidary and Popular Communities




The Expanded Social Forum of the Peripheries, which took place in February 2010 in the neighbourhood of Dunas in Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, was the occasion for multiple local actions, including international interconnections about the themes: environment and urbanism, culture and education, communication and information, health and security, in urban communities.


Some of the participants wanted to extend the exchanges by writing the document below. This is a reference text, composed of considerations, references, characterisation, invitations and motions, which is not intended to be a declaration of principles, but on the cotnrary, an invitation to participate in political and pedagogical, concrete and transformatory actions.


Reference Text




We, the undersigned, residents and activists from popular communities, educators and researchers of urban social movements from different regions of the Planet, share the considerations and invitations expressed in this text.


Acknowledging local knowledges, we can contribute in a collective and horizontal manner to the construction of a future city that is more just, human, united and inclusive.


Today, more than half the population of the planet lives in urban areas, where locally we see the increase in disparities and segregation. Neoliberal globalisation has transformed these areas and aggravated socio-spatial polarisation of residential quarter, which underline the isolation experienced by residents of poor communities, which are separated from the rest of the city by economic, social and cultural criteria.


In the areas occupied by poor communities, the realisation of housing rights and access to good quality public services are not prioritised by public policies.


We struggle against this model of cities divided into centre and periphery, which causes segregation into gated communities or suburbs far away from public services in central areas.


Beside cities, we want 'urban societies' that value their communities, respect cultural diversity, which protect life and create equal conditions of existence, overcoming the polarisation between centre and periphery.


More broadly, we long for a societal model which guarantees the right of all persons to housing and to the use of public space, as well as access to good quality urban public services.


We want to pay attention in our everyday language to the use of words that convey colonial, neoliberal, centralist and authoritarian concepts. For example, we question the idea of Social Observatories and suggest that these are replaced by Social Transformatories.




This text is the result of our various transformative experiences in local areas. We believe that:


  • The participation of residents of popular communities in autonomous movements is a first step towards the strenghtening of pedagogical actions in these areas, transforming the current discretionary model.


  • Discussions in seminars and lectures in popular assemblies, social forums, artistic manifestations and cultural workshops allo for increased self-esteen and development of autonomy, favouring and strengthening transformatory local powers which bring together different languages, recognise and value different cultures.
  • During these meetings, interconnections by internet, involving participation and interventions at a distance by other actors in the world. make it possible to exchange experiences and find mutual support, collaboration and solidarity. It also facilitates the rigth of any person to know about global experiences and associate with other people through collective and individual interchanges at a distance, by means of the Internet, overcoming linguistic and geographic barriers.
  • The collective management of the Internet also makes it possible for popular communities to carry out interconnections, encounters and seminars with other places in the world and practice the capacity for participating at a distance in collective international process and in this way "dislocate the centre and the periphery", for a process that is no longer uniterritorial or expanded but polycentric.



Beyond our particular experiences, we wish to share with other local actors and social processess under way in order to construct a Network InCommon which is participatory, collaborative, solidary, facilitating and protective of life.


The Network InCommon is an online space having this text as a reference. Persons who sign the text are considered part of this space and are assumed to identify with the principles nad dynamics of the World Social Forum.


The Network InCommon is a space for exchange of experiences and generation of initatives among groups of participants in the areas of activism described in the Manifesto.


The Network InCommon is not an "network-entity" with spokespeople or representatives, meaning that any participant can speak about the network to 'outsiders' in order to explain its nature and comment on the contents of reference texts. So, in order to avoid polarising this space and creating problems, nobody can take positions "in the name of the Network InCommon" on other issues that are not dcovered by this reference text.




  • We invite residents of popular communities, social activists, educators, researchers, college and university students, and activists from popular movements and organisations, who identify with the principles and dynamics of the World Social Forum, to sign this invite and integrate with the Network InCommon.


  • We invite actors present at the Forum of Local Authorities of the Peripheries (the FALP Network) to support, in the events of the WSF:

1) the physical participation of delegates from association and movements of popular communities, which develop autonomous action in urban social processes in their cities


2) the community infrastructures needed in order to implement interconnections, via equipment, internet devices and human capacity-building, to enable organised groups in popular communities to organise interchanges with groups from different parts of the Planet.


  • We also invite university groups, trade unions, solidary individuals and organisations of civil society, to collaborate in the expansion of Popular Universities, grounded in paradigms which recognise the creative intelligence of those with little formal schooling, that value popular (non-academic) knowledges, and respect cultural diversity. We want to strengthen other paradigms of intellectual merit, which are based not on formal titles and qualifications but on individual and collective creative initiatives, on local cultural experiences, on participatory methods, on collaborative and solidary practices, on attitudes that are protective of life and on the self-managed, sustainable processes of popular communities.


  • In particular, we invite social forum organisers to make their events welcoming of participation at a distance by collectives from popular communities, which do not have financial resources at their disposal to subisdise delegates. In addition to live transmission by internet, we invite organisers of facilitate interconnections and exchanges between people who are physically present at of each event and popular communities gathered in different places around the Planet.




During 2010, we want to spread this invitation to the Network InCommon in the events of the WSF and beyond. We want to meet in person and at a distance during the World Social Forum in Dakar in January 2011, to make visible popular communities' experiences of local empowerment, with a view to build towns and cities that are supportive and protective of life, as a dimension of another possible world.


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