Last weekend was a major milestone for DSA-LA. Over 200 members gathered at Friendship Auditorium for our first-ever Annual Convention, helping launch the highest legislative body of the local with a tradition of enthusiastic political discourse and comradely debate. Over the course of the day, we democratically amended our governing documents and set priorities for the coming year, passing chapter resolutions for the first time to guide our collective work. And we even finished 45 minutes early!
The membership voted to pass three priority resolutions to be carried out over the next year: implementing organizer trainings and expanding DSA-LA across all of Los Angeles County through the development of branches — both resolutions proposed by the Steering Committee — and prioritizing the campaign to repeal Costa-Hawkins and tenant organizing generally, as proposed by members of the Housing & Homelessness Committee and Refoundation Caucus. These resolutions will work in tandem to build our capacity and orient our work around the neighborhoods we live in — and contest the power wielded by landlords and developers within that space.
We kicked off the day with remarks from Carol Newton, who shepherded the chapter from dormant years through our explosive growth in 2016 and early 2017, reminding us of how far we’ve come. As she recounted, Carol onboarded every member who joined in the 2016 wave, including the new members who emailed her at two in the morning after Trump’s election.
Taking stock of that growth, Steering Committee gave an assessment of the current state of the chapter, inspiring the membership to engage in self-reflection as we plan ahead and work to build an organization that can enact meaningful political change.
“As members of the Steering Committee, we understand our Annual Convention to be an important time to check in together — to acknowledge the steps we’ve intentionally taken to move from an organization which merely has potential, to an organization that has the power to meaningfully, and effectively contribute to a fight for people and against capital,” Steering members emphasized.
We also invited longtime leftist organizer Jackie Goldberg to share her wisdom from a lifetime of confronting capital and power — roughly 25 years after DSA-LA endorsed her in her campaign for City Council.
But most importantly, we came together to debate and vote on amendments to refine our Bylaws and ensure they can adapt to and reflect our growing chapter. From mandating that chapter leaders maintain membership in good standing and committing to quarterly Inter-Subgroup Officer Forums to reserving time for debate before chapter-wide decisions, a common thread among the amendments under consideration was a desire to expand opportunities for political discussion and debate in-person.
Ending the day with constituency breakouts for regions to be served by the soon-to-be-formed branches, and for trainings members hope to see through the implementation of the organizer training resolution, we set the tone for the work to come. It was a truly heartening and inspiring day, and we’re so thankful for all the volunteers and committees, especially Membership and Mutual Aid, who helped bring it to life!