Consulta Hemisferica Proposal


The Consulta Hemisferica is a call to organizations in the Americas to collaborate across national borders to develop a shared set of principles and a plan to build a global economy based on the values of the progressive left. This call addresses the right to social and political participation, and collaboration with, communities and progressive organizations situated in the global south with those most affected in the United States and Canada as well.

Based on the Collaborative Democracy Workshop, an Internet-based tool and method for combining face-to-face small group discussions with real-time collaboration with groups in other locations who speak multiple languages, the Consulta Hemisferica will culminate in a multi-country simultaneous workshop centered in Paraguay during the Social Forum of the Americas in August 2010.

Consulta Concept

A "consulta" in Latin American movement terminology is an event featuring an exchange of ideas and perspectives on a specific topic or area. While it does not necessarily end in any specific action being decided upon, its purpose is to pave the way for future united activity.

The concept was developed to differentiate between other types of gatherings (congresses, conferences, meetings, etc.) and what the movement in various Latin American countries thought was called for: a session of exchange in which one brings one's thinking to offer to others while proceeding on the premise that the thinking of all others is as important and valid than one's own and that the only way real complete thinking can be derived is through collaboration that meshes the thinking of all.

Collaborative Democracy Workshop

The Collaborative Democracy Workshop is an organizing tool and method developed by May First/People Link to develop our skills in participatory democracy and build a consensus on issues that are critical for our movements. First debuted at the US Social Forum in Atlanta in 2007, May First/People Link has organized over a dozen workshops spanning four countries, four languages and involving hundreds of participants.

The workshop uses Internet technology as a collaborative tool to write a declaration of rights based on any topic. Using a local network or operating over the Internet in multiple rooms, small face-to-face groups write, edit and endorse rights in constant, dynamic collaboration with the other groups. The result is a document for organizing and a unique and exciting experience in the chaos, creativity and power of collaborative democracy.

The details

In each room, we break the participants into small groups of 4 - 5 people. Each small group speaks with one voice via a "scribe" who enters the group's proposed rights into a web-based system. A dynamic, projected display of the current state of the aggregate Bill of rights is visible to all.

All ideas belong to the entire workshop: any group can edit any right, whether they wrote the original version or not. All revisions of a given right are stored, but only the most recent version is projected to the group as a whole. The group which creates a new version of a right automatically endorses that right, but otherwise holds no special connection to it.

Each group also has the ability to endorse any right that seems worthy. When a right is edited, existing endorsements are cleared; each group needs to decide if they want to endorse the new version. Rights with more endorsers float to the top of the projected list, while the rights with fewer endorsers sink to the bottom.

To keep the Bill of rights to a manageable, concise size, only 10 rights can exist at a given time. If 10 rights already exist, the only way to add a new idea to the Bill is to edit an existing right, which requires engaging other groups in a dialog to ensure an adequate number of re-endorsements.

The workshop is capable of operating in a single room without Internet access (over a local wireless or wired network). In addition, it can operate over the Internet with multiple rooms.

The software's interface is available in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. And, it supports up to four languages for the participant-generated text, along with machine translation on user request. In a multiple language set up, participants can submit rights in one or both languages. Other participants can offer translations, which are considered "edits" of the right.

Part workshops

In 2007 and 2008, May First/People link organized a half dozen single room/single language workshops at conference throughout the United States, including the US Social Forum (Atlanta 2007), Alliance for Community Media (Detroit 2008) and Critical Resistance (San Francisco 2008). In addition, during the Americas Social Forum in Guatemala in October 2008, we organized the first two-city, two-language workshop (linking Guatemala City with New York City). In 2009, during the World Social Forum in Belem, we expanded to four cities in four countries (Brazil, Guatemala, US, Canada) and conducted the workshop in four languages (English, Spanish, French and Portuguese).


We are planning on a four hour workshop at the USSF which will produce a document that can serve as a kind of unitary statement. This statement will be presented to the People's Movement Assembly at the Social Forum and can then be presented at many activities in the following year as well as appearing on websites, etc.

We accompany the CD workshop software with a chat room (so groups all over the world can confer and inquire as described above) and some kind of visual software so that groups actually see each other (probably in photos displayed on a central board as the workshop is ongoing).

To make this happen we need to organize CD groups in most of the following cities

In the United States:

Anchorage, Alaska Seattle, Washington Hawai'i San Francisco, California Los Angeles, California Albuquerque, New Mexico Flagstaff, Arizona Larame, Wyoming Denver, Colorado Pine Ridge, South Dakota San Antonio, Texas Austin, Texas New Orleans, Louisianna Lawrence, Kansas Des Moines, Iowa Minneapolis, Minnesota Madison, Wisconsin Grand Rapids, Michigan Detroit, Michigan (at the Forum) Chicago, Illinois Miami, Florida Atlanta, Georgia Baltimore, Maryland Washington, D.C. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania New York, New York Huntsville, Ontario Boston, Massachusets

In Canada,

we plan on a simultaneous workshop at the G20 demonstrations in Toronto (which is, of course, very close to Detroit anyway).

In Latin America:

Cuba Venezuela (where a huge conference sponsored by School of the Americas is taking place simultaneously) Mexico Puerto Rico Bolivia Argentina Guatemala


May First/People Link will:

  • Organize a Consulta Hemisferica as a session at the Americas Social Forum in Paraguay
  • Build on our contacts in Canada, Guatemala and Belem to recruit and train a total of 6 cities through the Americas to participate in the consulta.
  • Send two representatives to the forum to setup and organize the session


  • $2,000 Staff time
  • $3,000 Travel
  • $1,000 Equipment/Internet connectivity at the forum
  • $6,000 Total


  • Participate in the Social Forum of the Americas organizing process, particularly supporting the Peoples Movement Assembly.
  • Organize a Consulta Hemisferica as a session at the Americas Social Forum in Paraguay
  • Build on our contacts in Canada, Guatemala and Belem to recruit and train a total of 12 cities through the Americas to participate in the consulta.
  • Send two represantives on a multi-city trip to make connections with the Americas social forum organizers and build contacts for people to organize workshops in their cities
  • Send two representatives to the forum to setup and organize the session


  • $8,000 Staff time
  • $10,000 Travel
  • $1,000 Equipment/Internet connectivity at the forum
  • $19,000 Total
Last modified 12 years ago Last modified on Feb 27, 2010, 1:49:56 PM