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Grassroutes Caravan: Madtown to Motown, a global village of resilience

May 31, 2010

Grassroutes Caravan
The Bloom Collective Potluck & Discussion

6 p.m. Sunday, June 13
4th Street Garden Oasis
Pettibone Ave. & 4th st. NW, Grand Rapids 49504

Grassroutes Caravan Variety Show
7 p.m. Monday, June 14
Blandford Nature Center Farm
3143 Milo St. NW, Grand Rapids 49534

On June 13 and 14, The Grassroutes Caravan will stop in Grand Rapids during their bicycle trip to the US Social Forum in Detroit. The 30 cyclists will also stop in Milwaukee, Lansing and White Lake before arriving in Detroit by June 22. In each community where they stop, they will share information via discussions and guerilla theatre as well as volunteer with local community service projects.

“We wanted to create an event prior to the trip that would both raise money and celebrate the upcoming journey to Detroit,” said participant, Kristine Pettersen.

At 6 p.m. Sunday June 13, The 30 cyclists will join The Bloom Collective for a potluck discussion at the 4th Street Garden Oasis, Pettibone and 4th St. NW. Grassroutes Caravan folks will share information about the USSF and demonstrations aboard the Permibus traveling permiculture exhibition.

At 7 p.m. Monday, The Grassroutes Caravan Variety Show will entertain with clowns, a puppet show and live music by Thistle. The Permibus will be on site at Blandford that evening as well. Local cyclists are welcome to join the Caravan when it sets out for Detroit.

“The main idea of the (World) Social Forum, which started as an annual get-together of world communities and organizations in Brazil, is that ‘another world is possible,” added Seth Jensen. In Detroit, the imperative that “Another U.S. is Necessary” has been added to the Social Forum’s idea. “We take those ideas very seriously. When you consider all the volunteer stops we have planned, the cultural exchange, the opportunities for relationship building, then we’re really talking about much more than a bicycle ride. I like to call it a mobile village.”

Once in Detroit, the Caravan will set up a bicycle city at the corner of Temple and Woodward, about a half mile from Cobo Hall, where the USSF takes place. The bike city will offer on-going bike maintenance and workshops.

Cross country caravans and marches have been a strategy for social change since 1966, when Dr. Martin Luther King walked in a mobile village from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi in a March Against Fear. Another example, the 1986 Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament traveled  for nine months from California to Washington DC.

Anarchists and anti-authoritarian organizers used the mobile village strategy during the Democracy Uprising March, of 2004, a 28-day march from the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Boston to the Republican National Convention (RNC) in New York. In 2008, activists in Madison, Wisconsin traveled in a mobile village of resistance from the People’s Networking Convention to the RNC in St. Paul. And, The Peoples Freedom Caravan traveled  from Albuquerque, New Mexico to the 2007 USSF in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The main thing to remember is that we are striving to be a whole, cohesive village, looking after one another in an atmosphere of care and concern for ourselves and the towns we pass through,” Jensen wrote in the Caravan’s zine. “ If we all do that, our ride is certain to be a blazing success.”

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