Version 2. February 2019.
The Work of Many
In the introduction to v2 of New Orleans DSA’s Gimme a Brake! (Light): A DIY Guide, we refer to the brake light clinic as “genius.” We should be clear the “genius” referred to herein is not ourselves, but the person who came up with the idea of these clinics, DSA organizer Kaitlin Marone. What a cool idea!
Many of us are writers, and we can tell you, a cool idea gets you pretty much nowhere. It doesn’t accomplish anything, on its own. What an idea can do is bring people together. And that’s what it did here in New Orleans. Marone took the idea to the newly-established DSA local. The brake light clinic’s success is not its idea: it is its execution, which is the work of many.
Only two people* who worked on the original version of this guide had a hand in creating v2. That’s because in the past year and a half, the brake light clinics have gone from a cool idea to an ongoing project that has helped our chapter recruit members, develop new leadership, sharpen our political education, develop better organizing skills, and record our institutional knowledge. That is the work of many.
This guide was built by consensus. We started the process by gathering information about clinics around the country and soliciting feedback from people who had built on our work. Then we met around a table in New Orleans, each of us outfitted with a printout of the old guide, plus every piece of organizing material we had developed since. And then we went, page by page, talking about whether each piece of information was necessary, clear, and accurate. Then we rewrote and came back and did it again. And again.
It is revolutionary to be more proud of a group project – of true consensus – than an individual effort.
As we release this v2 guide, we are orienting ourselves for deeper questions. How can we transform this project into a more sustained demand? In Louisiana, there is no part of life untouched by the carceral state. Should we fight to end money bail? Can we agitate to change the fee schedule for traffic violations? How can we leverage our position and build power to influence the 2020 District Attorney race in Orleans Parish?
The work of many will continue. We are overjoyed that you’re on the journey with us.
Direct Service Committee
New Orleans DSA
*and not Kaitlin Marone!