Kingston Activists to Present at U.S. Social Forum in Detroit

Congrats to Kingston residents Valeria Gheorghiu and Arthur Zaczkiewicz who were selected to present Kingston’s recent ‘Civic Involvement’  at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, Michigan on Friday, June 25th.  A great accomplishment for Kingston!

Read on…

– Rebecca Martin

Kingston Activists to Present at U.S. Social Forum in Detroit
Local residents to spotlight ‘civic involvement’ initiatives in Kingston

KINGSTON – Kingston attorney, environmental justice activist and community organizer Valeria A. Gheorghiu is presenting a two-hour workshop on the growth of Kingston, N.Y.’s civic involvement initiatives at the 2010 U.S. Social Forum in Detroit along with social media guru, community educator and Kingston resident Arthur Zaczkiewicz and, via Skype, community organizer Rebecca Martin.

Gheorghiu, who serves on Kingston’s Conservation Advisory Council (CAC), Zaczkiewicz, and Martin, are presenting “Green Power to the People: How a Garden-based Democracy Can Transform Civic Participation.” The workshop will explain and analyze how several recent citizen-based projects such as the formation of a city-wide garden coalition,, the CAC’s Climate Smart and Green Jobs Pledge visioning sessions, and among other initiatives, are reinvigorating civic participation. The U.S. Social Forum runs June 22 to June 26. Over 25,000 attendees are expected this year. The workshop is being sponsored by the Kingston Land Trust’s community garden committee.  Other citizen participants and/or presenters are to be determined.

“The fusion of grassroots organizing principles and civic involvement in the local government here in Kingston has the potential to serve as an excellent model for other communities across the country,” Gheorghiu said. “Opening local government policy development and implementation through community forums such as the City Gardens Coalition and the Climate Smart and Green Jobs Pledge visioning sessions is an innovative model of local governance.  Or perhaps it is a return to the founding principles of our nation, when we used to have town meetings.”  Gheorghiu said these principles are alive and well again here in Kingston, “We are facilitating direct democracy by citizens through our community/city partnerships.”

Zaczkiewicz said the development of social media tools such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Ning and Drupal over the past decade has transformed how people communicate.  “This transformation is now enabling greater civic participation and involvement – especially on a local level,” Zaczkiewicz explained.  “In Kingston, we’re seeing a blossoming of blogs, Facebook pages and websites, specifically aimed at improving the quality of life for Kingston residents, creating sustainability, developing greater public input in policy making, and most importantly, fostering the democratic process by allowing residents to be more clearly heard.  Thomas Jefferson would be proud.”

Upon their return, Gheorghiu and Zaczkiewicz will hold a presentation in Kingston later this summer to bring back some of the other national initiatives learned at the event in Detroit, which includes a food justice people’s movement assembly aimed at sharing “local solutions” and facilitating “greater coordination of national strategies of action.”

About the U.S. Social Forum: The U.S. Social Forum started as a regional forum after the World Social Forum first met about nine years ago, shortly after the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in Seattle in 1999, to begin creating a better world. Its purpose was to provide an alternative international forum to the World Economic Forum. The World Social Forum provided a space for non-profits and community organizers to inspire each other and create solutions for a more globally just world.  A U.S. Social forum was created in 2007 to envision solutions specific to the U.S. drawing 12,000 people. This year’s event would be the second U.S. Social Forum.

For more information on its history, VISIT

If interested in attending, presenting, or supporting the presenters’ travel expenses, and for more information about the workshop, email:


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