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Raise the roof! Cy Gonick on day two of the World Social Forum, blog and video.

Blog Archives For me the most exciting thing that happened at the WSF today was the moment the roof collapsed with the ceiling fan crashing down a few feet from where I was sitting in a meeting room along with 60 others listening intently to a presentation against the principle of compensation for environmental damage.

This was the first of a series of presentations on ecosocialism at the 2009WSF, the ones I especially came here to participate in. The concept we were introduced to is that no level of compensation is sufficient to cover the forever damage to nature inflicted by giant resource corporations in the course of their everyday operations.

The only acceptable remedy is one of fully repairing the damage/loss so that the land/waters/air is left in the same shape as it was prior to so-called development. It was just at the point that Terisa Turner (of the Universityof Guelph and an occasional contributor to Canadian Dimension) rose to ask how very poor indigenous peoples faced with an offer of a large cash compensation could turn it down, that the roof caved in! Fortunately no one was injured.

After the participants dispersed I was asked to help translate from the Portuguese a petition that was drawn up protesting the obviously crumbling state of affairs of a major Brazilian university. Most of this day was devoted to a celebration of the Amazon with song, dance and ceremonies performed by representatives of each of the nine countries inthe Amazon region. Hence it was called Pan-Amazon Day.

I managed to wander through the huts displaying crafts, art and artifacts from these and other countries and books and magazines that I was especially interested in. I counted at least four or five high caliber Brazilian magazines similar to Canadian Dimension. I also poked into the Cuban pavilion, given special place because of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution.

In some ways, the World Social Forum reminds me of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, only five times as big with an even more varied program. Like the Folk Fest, the WSF could not function without an army of volunteers, in this case numbering in the thousands. And like the FolkFest, the attendants at the WSF are overwhelmingly young, enthusiastic andidealistic. And very colourful and friendly. Finally, like the Folk Fest, the organizers of the WSF appear to be very competent and doing a marvelous job in putting together this much more ambitious and mammoth event without major mishaps - the roof caving incident, not the responsibility of the WSF,notwithstanding!!

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