2020 State of the Seattle Chapter of DSA

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Well aren’t these interesting times! This dispatch is offered per the chapter bylaws for the annual Seattle DSA chapter Convention, Part 1 of which was held virtually on March 29.    

Our movement continues to grow and so do our organizing skills. The fundamental question is how can we grow more and more, in numbers and in strength? Everyone’s thinking is needed! 

And have we ever seen some good thinking in the past couple of weeks!  The national DSA COVID19 demands and bulletins. The chapter COVID19 relief fund for our membership. Amped up tenant organizing and face mask production coming up.  We pivoted right past the disappointments presented by the coronavirus pandemic and went right to new methods and narratives for our organizing.   

Now more than ever we are reminded that DSA is a big tent socialist organization, and that this keeps us resourced for the unexpected. As for an ecosystem, diversity is resilience.  

Even though it is suddenly a whole new world, and some of our best organizing efforts have been interrupted, let’s go ahead and reflect on the past year.  

During this past year we built and deepened connections, with one another internally and with potential coalition partners externally.   

We continued to empower our members to act, and as a consequence sustained and extended the reach of our external and internal organizing. 

Our externally focused efforts were strategic for growing our movement, while seeking material gains for working people. These included the Shaun Scott campaign, the Bernie Sanders campaign, Medicare for All canvassing, and much more.  Our speedy mobilization resulted in a rally with broad participation and great media coverage against corporate politics in November, when Amazon hosted Joe Biden for a fundraiser in Queen Anne.  

Among their many, many acts of solidarity with the detained and formerly detained, our Immigrant Justice group raised $11,000 on Mother’s Day for the Fair Fight Immigrant Bond Fund, and held a highly visible rally, the No Tech for ICE rally at the Amazon balls. In concert with immigrant rights groups and Tacoma DSA, release from the Northwest Detention Center and safe passage to another destination were secured for 14 trans women. 

Two new unions in our city—the Art Workers Union at the Frye and Book Workers Union at Eliott Bay Books–were outgrowths of DSA’s Workplace Organizing Collective. And many more labor organizing efforts are incubating. 

Our chapter’s involvement in the formation of the Tax Amazon effort further broadened our coalition building and holds great potential for the future. 

The Green New Deal Committee organized in many climate movement spaces starting in the fall, and most recently through participating in a well-organized party that closed Second Avenue to traffic, to protest Chase Bank’s investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure. Our chapter banner was raised at anti-imperialist, anti-fascist and other events throughout the year. 

Internally, we expanded political education opportunities via reading groups and a thriving Socialist Night School. The District groups, the Queer and Feminist Caucus, the People of Color Caucus, the Libertarian Socialist Caucus and other groups ensured that our movement spaces provided a home for diversity of thought, orientation and identity—spaces in which to share ideas, advance our thinking, fight oppression and build our movement. 

Significantly, we formed a Member Engagement Team, the MET.  The MET methodically created a format, trained folks and implemented 1-on-1 meetings with new members. They reached out to new members during and after general meetings. And looking ahead, they are revamping our New Member Orientations, with an online orientation to come soon.  If breaking down alienation sounds good to you, get in touch with them by emailing [email protected] and putting Member Engagement in the subject line. 

Behind the scenes our Communications team kept pace with our growth. They expanded our website resources to include Socialism 101, “9 Steps to organizing your workplace”, and landing pages for various committees. They published “Meet Amazon”, a socialist critique of capitalism through one of the largest local companies. They retired the long-running Hellhole blog in favor of increased comms assistance to working groups, committees, caucuses, and projects in the community.  To further aid these groups they created stock art assets so organizers can more easily generate their own materials on-the-fly, and improved website calendar access. 

Also behind the scenes, a solid team of Harassment and Grievance Officers are at the ready, and they went above and beyond the call in proposing a Code of Conduct that we will vote on when we hold Part 2 of our annual Chapter Convention.  

And lastly, although our transparency has room for improvement, we remained committed to democracy both as a means and an end, through frequent and open Local Council meetings, and monthly membership gatherings. 

It is through our own self-governance, our connections and our solidarity with one another that a better world becomes possible.  A Marxist named Karl Marx said so.  

Many efforts and successes are missing from this account.  And hopefully we will all pursue ways to be better and do better in the coming year.  It’s yours, own it! 

Especially as we experience disappointment about the constraints from the corona virus, let’s resist the pull to isolation, resist the pull to giving up.  Hang in there.  Stick together.  Reach out to your comrades.  This is a time of crisis, and also a time of solidarity.

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