Organizing For All
This resolution prioritizes the development of DSA-LA’s internal capacity to engage and develop a membership that reflects the working class of Los Angeles, with a focus on fostering an inclusive and accessible organizing space.
Text of Resolution
- Our chapter must build lasting momentum around issues that resonate with the working class, but cannot do so without developing a more intentionally inclusive and anti-oppressive chapter culture and increasing our organizing capacity;
- Our chapter must ensure that our organizing spaces are accessible to reflect the needs of our members and potential members, and DSA-LA members have expressed challenges with engagement due to accessibility;
- DSA-LA demographics are not currently representative of the greater Los Angeles County – the chapter is disproportionately straight, white cis-men;
- No chapter-wide program has yet sought to redress these critical issues;
- DSA-LA’s internal structure prohibits such chapter-wide action by reinforcing the siloed nature of committees and other groups.
- We must root ourselves in and build power as the multicultural working class of Los Angeles, both in our workplaces and our communities.
Be it resolved that DSA-LA will:
- Intentionally tackle known membership imbalances in the chapter by pursuing the following goals:
- Develop an analysis of DSA-LA's membership and author a comprehensive report (The “Organizing for All Report”) of chapter-wide strategies for the recruitment and retention of working class members, families, and members of color;
- Incorporate Spanish Language into external outreach and internal organizing strategies, in alignment with National Resolution 6;
- Standardize accessibility practices and prioritize accessibility accommodations for all meetings and events;
- Define a chapter-wide understanding of active membership and involvement that does not alienate members who have a hardship attending multiple events per week.
- Convene a decision-making task force to coordinate the implementation of the resolution.
This coordinating body shall have fair representation from specific stakeholding groups in the chapter. It will democratically direct the implementation of the resolution and quickly develop a “Workplan” that details goals, metrics, and timelines. The work of the body is subordinate to decisions from chapter membership that follow the chapter decision-making process.
Members of the task force should be appointed or elected by internal subgroup or branch leadership, or should be selected by another method chosen by internal subgroup or branch leadership. Members may be recalled by the groups they represent. Seat allocation:
- 1-2 representatives of each Internal Resource Committee named in this proposal;
- 1 representative of each branch; and
- 1-3 representatives of the Steering Committee
- Prioritize the development of internal chapter capacity by supporting the following groups in organizing key projects related to accessibility and growth:
- Membership Committee goals:
- Codify a membership onboarding plan so that new members have a clear path from recruitment to becoming active;
- Develop a system to monitor the success of the onboarding plan and track its effectiveness;
- Develop the organizing framework and tools to build a membership mobilization network;
- Utilize the mobilization network to survey membership
- Agitation & Propaganda Committee goals:
- Collaborate with caucuses and subgroups to create and produce new tabling resources with a focus on families and identity-based communities;
- Create social media content explicitly aimed at recruiting a DSA-LA membership base representative of the Los Angeles working class
- Mutual Aid Committee goals:
- Ensure that child watch is available at all major meetings;
- Develop resources and trainings to conduct outreach and promote accessibility for families;
- Coordinate Community Defense for large events or meetings;
- Provide physical security, opsec and infosec guidelines for leadership
- Political Education Committee goals:
- Regularly facilitate introductory trainings about socialism, organizing, and anti-oppression for new members;
- Work to support the local implementation of National Resolutions 33 and 84 which relate to training
- Branch goals:
- Develop active Branch Organizing Committees with a clear mandate to grow DSA-LA in their area;
- Organize Branch members into the work of mobilizing and building relationships with other members in the area;
- Empower Branches to facilitate neighborhood-based hangouts;
- Prioritize consistent neighborhood hangouts in the South LA region;
- Conduct external campaign events and outreach in South LA region
Resolution Description & Timeline
DSA-LA’s membership and governing documents state a desire to reflect the working class. There is much work to do – if DSA-LA is to become a truly inclusive and anti-oppressive organization, we must improve our organizing culture, intentionally accommodating for typical barriers to organizing (language, transportation, childcare, disability, distance, etc). By strengthening internal processes and coordination, DSA-LA can accelerate the capacity-building needed to build a mass working-class movement.
NOTES ON GOALS
Internal Resource Committees
Committees shall work towards the goals and projects described above, with an emphasis on intentionally collaborating with other subgroups wherever possible.
The goals described for Branches above represent a vision for branches as an increasingly-important organizing body within the chapter. A branch should not just be a place to attend monthly meetings, but should be an active, democratic body, where members organize to grow DSA-LA and mobilize members in their area.
Incorporating Spanish Language into external outreach and internal organizing strategies must be an organizational priority, accomplished by:
- Organizing at least one Spanish language membership hangout per month.
- Requiring Spanish language programming for a component of all external resolutions or chapter-wide projects (ie. Canvassing, forums, etc.);
- Developing Spanish language versions of DSA introductory DSA training(s), the first to be held before the expiration of this resolution;
- Funding language translation training and the technology required to run bilingual events and meetings, with a minimum of 1 translation listening device kit to be purchased by the chapter;
- Developing Spanish language facilitation training for chapter leadership with the goal of encouraging retention of monolingual spanish-speaking members;
- Working locally to support the implementation of National Resolutions 5 and 6, which relate to establishing relations with organizations, promoting collaboration and the exchange of information between Locals and National DSA in orienting work towards Latinx communities.
DSA-LA must standardize accessibility practices and prioritize accessibility accommodations for all meetings and events. While not all accessibility needs can be addressed at all times, every externally facing event must indicate what accessibility accommodations can and cannot be made on the DSA-LA event calendar postings. Accessibility needs/accommodations refer to:
- Assisted listening devices
- Child watch
- Gender neutral bathrooms
- Public transportation accessibility
- Translation or bilingual facilitation
- Wheelchair accessible space
TIMELINE AND LOGISTICS
The Task Force described in this resolution should convene before December 2019 and meet once per month for the duration of the resolution. Meetings should be run according to rules of order. Meeting minutes, containing reports and decisions made, should be recorded and shared with general membership within 1 week.
Within 3 Months of the passage of this resolution, the Task Force must present to the General Membership an “Organizing for All Workplan” with a timeline for achieving the goals listed in this resolution, along with suggested responsibilities and next steps for the Internal Subgroups and Branches. Goals not specifically associated with subgroups should be delegated by Steering Committee. The Task Force should ensure there are opportunities for the General Membership to provide feedback on the Workplan.
By June 2020, the Taskforce must provide a progress report to the chapter. In addition, the Task Force shall author a report containing an analysis and recommendations for chapter-wide strategies that DSA-LA can implement to create a more diverse and inclusive chapter (the Organizing for All Report). After a period of at least two weeks for debate and deliberation, the membership will vote on approving the Organizing for All Report as an official chapter document. If the general membership approves, by a simple majority vote, the report will be published by the chapter. If it does not approve, the Taskforce must revise the report and present a new report within one month.
REGARDING THE TASK FORCE
“Why does this resolution call for a new body? We have enough meetings already.”
It is true that DSA-LA already has a strong set of internal resource committees, and many existing opportunities for members to build internal chapter capacity. But, as current and former committee officers in the chapter, all four of the authors of this resolution are keenly aware of how difficult it can be for committees to coordinate projects with each other. Committees currently exist largely as siloes; each working on their own projects, sometimes duplicating efforts needlessly. This lack of coordination has led to misunderstandings about responsibilities, and a general lack of efficiency. When decisions need to be made about collaborative projects, a lack of clarity about who gets to make decisions can lead to ineffective organizing.
The authors of this resolution believe that a new working group would only perpetuate this problem; necessarily drawing people away from work in any other given committee. We are instead calling for the formation of a representative, decision-making body that would provide a framework for existing chapter groups to work together to solve a chapter-wide problem; laying out a comprehensive strategy with chapter input and buy-in. The vast majority of work called for in this resolution will be done through pre-existing chapter structures.
We do not need more meetings or bodies merely for the sake of nominally addressing an issue. But we do need to think strategically and collaboratively about what steps are necessary for the chapter to take in order to solve problems that impact the entire chapter.
Relevant Organizational Priorities & Motivation
This resolution is born out of a need for better coordination and communication within existing structures in DSA-LA, as well as a desire to intentionally develop a membership that is reflective of the working class in Los Angeles. DSA-LA’s democratically-ratified governing documents, including the Bylaws and Organizational Priorities, outline the need for these, and this resolution will be a step toward building a stronger organization.
- All Internal Resource Committees work to “provide resources, tools, and training materials to the members of the local and Issue-based Committees and Campaign-based Working Groups" (DSA-LA Bylaws Article V, Section 2);
- DSA-LA’s Organizational Priorities state that DSA-LA should “maintain workflow systems that support and empower all members to take on significant responsibility for ongoing intra-chapter communication and collaboration.”
- DSA-LA’s Organizational Priorities states that the organization should “develop internal capacity to recruit, engage and retain our members across the racial and socioeconomic divisions of Los Angeles, and connect members to each other regionally, while also challenging instead of reifying those divisions”;
- DSA-LA’s Organizational Priorities also states that the organization should, “Commit to maintaining and growing chapter funds, and dedicating sufficient resources to ensure that chapter events and materials are accessible to all members.”
- DSA’s National Convention body voted via consent to orienting to Latinx communities.
- DSA-LA’s Organizational Priorities state that DSA-LA should “build an organizational culture that embodies our socialist ideals, and a welcoming community that supports all members to engage in collective work to dismantle systems of oppression, in accordance with our shared values”;
- The DSA National Convention body voted overwhelmingly to approve a Child Watch resolution.
Membership Engagement Opportunities
Engaging New Members
- Codifying a membership onboarding path will build capacity by ensuring new members are quickly oriented to the chapter culture, participate in campaigns, and eventually hold leadership positions.
- Engage new members by holding introductory DSA-LA trainings for communities traditionally underserved by the chapter.
- Establishing new avenues to conduct outreach and onboard residents of South LA with resources and campaign events that are materially relevant to their local region.
Engaging Active Members
- New Spanish Language trainings will expand the organizing skill set of existing core members
- By organizing Branch members into the work of mobilizing and building relationships with other members in the area, DSA-LA can both engage active members and broaden the base with potential new members
Building a Broader Base
- Increasing accessibility will attract new members who may have been interested in DSA’s core values, but hesitant to join.
- Initiating the development of DSA-LA’s membership and capacity within South LA, with monthly neighborhood hangouts and external-campaign focused forums will help introduce the chapter to new potential members.
Local Subgroup Platform Goals
Membership Committee: The membership committee works to retain and activate existing members. It is also tasked with implementing strategies, processes, and resources that will lead to growth in membership, particularly organizing new members not well-represented within the current membership. This resolution provides chapter-wide support to achieving these goals.
AgitProp Committee: The Agit-Prop Committee works alongside the elected communications team and steering committee to promote the ideas and analysis of DSA-LA to the public at large. Agit-prop can aid recruitment and forge coalition partners as well as shaping how the general public views the org and will create content towards that end. This resolution will help the Agit-Prop committee in developing new tabling resources and agit-prop with a focus on families and identity-based communities.
Mutual Aid Committee: The long-term strategic goal of Mutual Aid with regards to socialist organizing is to create lasting connections between organizers, outside communities, and other activist institutions; these connections will form networks of support that address the needs of communities neglected by a disconnected elite class. By providing additional institutional support, outreach/trainings for childwatch, and the organizing of community defense, this resolution aims to help Mutual Aid advance its long-term strategic organizing goals.
Political Education Committee: One of the stated committee goals is to forge strong connections across committees and working groups and work together to build and maintain emancipatory educational spaces that are welcoming and inclusive of all people—including non-members interested in socialism, members with marginalized identities, members new to socialist thinking, and long-time socialist members. This resolution seeks to ensure that these educational spaces are welcoming and inclusive to all people, especially members with marginalized identities. This can be done via accessibility and language justice among other means. Further, the resolution seeks to merge theory and praxis by tasking the Political Education Committee with facilitating introductory trainings about DSA and organizing; trainings that build upon historical lessons and translate them into critical skills.