I’m running for an At-Large Local Council seat because I want to give our chapter more structure to grow into, to account for our needs and coordinate the work that’s underway. We already have our hands full, with many individuals already responsible for a variety of projects. We’re advancing our canvassing efforts, extending solidarity to interested parties, and getting new ventures off the ground. This will rightly involve lots of experimentation, documentation, and training—and more work. To build the capacity for this work, we’re cultivating more leadership in our members and mobilizing new membership. I would use the At-Large position to support committee and project leaders, integrating our expansion into a cohesive, discernable chapter. And as we synthesize this growth, our bylaws, statements of purpose, and activities need interpreting into tangible capacity and compelling positions.
I work at an environmental education nonprofit, where my job involves everything from tracking data to relationship building, but I focus on systems improvements and project management. The interdisciplinary study program where I got my degree went from 200 to 400 in the four years I spent there. This explosive growth spurred me to cut my organizing teeth on an affinity group project intended to connect and activate our suddenly sprawled out program. I gained tools for building community through facilitating dialogues and deliberation, and I also learned hard lessons about the limitations of top-down orgs. At a meeting, pizza helps, and an agenda is better, but neither is a replacement for grounding an organization in the interests of the membership and the needs of the community more broadly.
I’ve been active within the chapter since around January, participating mostly in the canvassing and clinics of the Direct Service and Healthcare for All committees. I joined DSA for a variety of reasons, most of all because this is where the work is. This is an inclusive chapter already engaging with other poor and working people. We’re spinning up a promising Mobilizers program, and I’ve relished recently joining that project. Counterintuitively perhaps, I’m attracted to this work with DSA from a place of introversion. Pursuing substantial, constructive conversations with strangers–which might radicalize them or myself–is deeply gratifying. Similarly, I’m a socialist because it gives me a positive framework to analyze and see a way out of capitalism.
This moment’s challenge is more than logistical; this isn’t simply a matter of showing up on time. As a nonbinary bisexual, as a queer southerner, I know that contradiction and complication show up on the way to understanding. It isn’t enough to step back and wait for our marginalized comrades to make themselves heard. We have to dismantle the obstructions to reaching political consciousness and doing political work. This isn’t just about numbers, either. Whether we have 170 or 1,000 members, this chapter will find its strongest possible configuration by participating in the struggles of our marginalized comrades. The systems of oppression which divide us are whetstones for our analysis. In struggling against those systems, we deepen our empathy with ourselves and our comrades, and we build the foundation of, and hope for, a better world. Whether in check-ins with committee stewards, or lining up a new project with a working group, I will hold the At-Large position with the task of untangling the oppressions that make up the conditions of our lives.