Putting the “Organizer” in “Socialist Organizer”

Result: PASSED

Whereas:

  • DSA-LA is one of the largest chapters nationwide
  • The chapter’s active core membership is a fraction of the total membership
  • Comrades in the chapter range in their organizing experience
  • Our chapter stands to benefit from activating and developing more comrades
  • Our chapter stands to benefit from work that is more intersectional in its analysis
  • A common organizing framework can help facilitate cross-committee communication and collaboration, making our work more intersectional

Be it resolved that:

  • DSA-LA will create a training program for its membership that will be available to all rank and file members
  • The trainings will comprise of both “Fundamental” and “Advanced” trainings
  • Fundamental trainings will include but are not limited to basic organizing skills such as meeting facilitation, direct action training, and canvassing
  • Advanced trainings will include but are not limited to power mapping, strategic research analysis, coalition building, and social media strategy
  • This training program will be developed in partnership with interested members from chapter committees and working groups
  • By the end of the year, these trainings should be made available on a quarterly basis for all rank and file members to attend.
  • These trainings will be integrated into the new and inactive member engagement practices of the chapter, with a goal of maximizing participation to ensure that the knowledge base is broadly distributed across the organization

DSA differs from many other left wing formations in that it is by design a big tent, multi-tendency organization. One of the results of this is a lack in a clear, unified program that teaches political and organizing skills to new members. This is in stark contrast to other left wing organizations such as Worker’s World Party (WWP) or Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) that provide rigorous education and organizing programs that aim to build member capacity and their commitment to their organization through shared struggle. If DSA is to take advantage of this historic groundswell in membership, it’s imperative to develop the political skills of our membership.

Some attempts have been made on a national and local level to address this. At the National convention, a resolution calling for nationwide trainings for locals passed, but with no clear timeline as to when this would be accomplished. Meanwhile  some DSA locals,  such as the Piedmont Chapter, have developed trainings on basic political skills designed to teach their members the fundamentals of community organizing.

This resolution calls to dedicate resources from the chapter’s treasury and communication channels to mobilize members and create materials for a series of trainings that can be provided on a quarterly basis aimed at developing the skills of the local’s membership. Basic training programs will be developed for members that are new to left-wing organizing, with the intention of fostering shared agreements that can be held across the chapter. In addition, intermediate and more advanced trainings will be developed to support and expand the organizing capacity of our committees and membership. Proposed trainings include the following  areas:

  • Meeting facilitation and participation
  • Direct action planning and participation
  • Canvassing
  • Organizing conversations
  • Internal research (reading SEC filings, FOIA requests)
  • Power mapping and campaign strategy
  • Conflict mediation
  • De-escalation
  • Strategic Listening and Story Sharing

Some of these trainings will be developed in-house from experienced comrades in the chapter. Some resources will also be developed from field-tested programs such as the CWA Racial Justice Boot Camp as well as organizing material developed from comrades in other chapters such as NC Piedmont’s Community Organizing Program.

If approved, Steering Committee will put out a call for the creation of an Internal Training Working Group that will work over the course of 2018 to develop the content and presentation of training materials for the committee at large. Participation in the Internal Training Working Group is available to any member in good standing in DSA-LA.

Timeline

  • April 1, 2018: First Direct Action Marshal “Pilot” training
  • April 28, 2018: First Direct Action Marshal training held at Annual Convention
  • May 2018: Formation of Internal Training Working Group
  • May 30, 2018: Internal Training Working Group convened for first time
  • August 2018: Fundamentals training(s) for New Members held for membership
  • November 2018: Intermediate training course(s) held for membership
  • November 2018: Feedback from trainings collected, training process is refined
  • December 2018: Schedule for 2019 trainings shared