Globalization summit slated for Missoula 

Missoula-area activists are planning a summit on globalization to coincide with a major international organization’s June meeting in Calgary. The organizers hope that the Global Justice Action Summit will draw protesters from around the globe who will be on their way to Canada for the meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) nations. The five-day gathering in Missoula, slated to begin June 20, will consist of seminars, workshops and festivals focusing on the role of labor, human rights, and the environment in globalization.

“We’re not anti-globalization,” says Vicki Watson, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Montana and one of the event’s organizers. “In fact, I would say I am for globalization, but I am for globalization that is intended to build social justice and sustainable communities. We feel like a lot of the policies that have been pursued in the name of globalization actually make it harder to achieve those goals.”

Watson is organizing a festival to demonstrate how communities can achieve sustainability and self-sufficiency. It will include displays by environmental consulting firms, sustainable builders, native plant nurseries, organic farmers, and similar small businesses, as well as government agencies and non-profit groups.

“It’s about showing goods, services, policies, ideas, and lifestyles that help make communities more sustainable and self-sufficient,” Watson says. “We’re trying to be both local and global at the same time.”

The organizers are drawn from two dozen Missoula-area non-profit groups. Their tentative schedule of events for the summit includes workshops and seminars as well as concerts and parties. The summit will culminate with participants taking a bicycle and “alternative vehicle” caravan to the Canadian border in Glacier Park for a “peace gathering.”

In the months leading up to the summit there will be several fundraising events, including an “Eco-Pentathalon” for Earth Day. Potential “eco-pentathletes” will be encouraged to pick up trash and “dumpster dive” for recyclable materials all around town to raise money for the summit, Watson says. On March 28 a forum will be held at UM to discuss the global justice summit and a screening of the documentary film, Global Village or Global Pillage? How people around the world are challenging corporate globalization.

The G8, an informal global body that includes representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, is scheduled to meet in Calgary starting June 26. Together the G8 nations account for about half of the world’s economy. Their agenda for June includes discussion of global economic growth, development in Africa, and the war on terrorism. Organizers have set up a Web site for the Missoula summit at www.globaljas.org.

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