Our May potluck and meeting was dedicated to discussing the future of DDS, setting clear goals, and identifying what will be necessary for us to achieve those goals. It was an inspiring conversation, which demonstrated that we are committed to engaging in long-term democratic socialist community organizing.
Envisioning the Future
The first question we discussed was, “Where do you see DDS in five years? What sorts of things will we have achieved?” While we came up with many ideas, most of them can be organized under three main themes, which emerged from our discussion:
Organizing renters. Liberals and leftists in Dubuque are united by our concern that all people have access to safe and affordable housing. As democratic socialists who are committed to community organizing, we envision that our unique role in this endeavor will be to support tenants who seek to organize a democratically structured renters’ union and engaging in targeted activism, which addresses price-fixing and other chronic issues. Landlords and realtors in Dubuque are highly organized; renters must be as well!
Organizing workers, especially low-wage and precariously employed workers. We envision that this will involve supporting workers who seek to organize themselves and expand union representation to underrepresented groups. We envision creating a workers’ justice network, which can coordinate activism, organizing efforts, and resources.
Radically shifting local political power to the left by electing DSA members to the City Council and County Board of Supervisors. We envision identifying and recruiting candidates who have a demonstrated track-record of activism and organizing so that there are trusted and articulate advocates of democratic socialist values in our local government.
Achieving Our Vision
After thinking boldly about our future, our next question was, “How do we achieve this vision? What is required?” There was agreement that the following steps are necessary.
Training. We seek to become well-trained, highly organized activists. By developing our competencies and deploying our unique assets, we will act with confidence and inspire others.
Develop a reputation for being present, active, and responsive to the needs of our neighbors. As democratic socialists, we seek to “organize the unorganized.” This requires that we develop trusting relationships with those who we wish to join us in our organizing efforts. As such, we need to be meeting people where they are, listening to their needs, taking decisive action, and maintaining relationships with those engaged in other grassroots organizing.
Develop a physical presence in the community. If we wish to foster trust and effectively organize our community, we need to have a visible presence and a physical location, which can become the hub of all our activism efforts. We believe that this will ultimately require an office and meeting space in the Central Avenue Commercial District or Washington Neighborhood.
Our Next Steps
The final question we explored was, “What do we need to do this year to realize this vision?” We identified the following immediate goals.
Entering into conversations. We need to create opportunities for engaging in conversations in the neighborhoods and among the populations, which we believe would most benefit from solidarity organizing. Specific ideas included holding regular events at Comiskey and Jackson Parks, developing relationships with neighborhood churches and other religious communities, hosting community potlucks, etc. We need to develop teams of members from specific neighborhoods to engage in door-to-door canvassing and listening events.
Engage in focused outreach. We need to intentionally communicate with both young people (students, working young adults) and senior citizens—two demographic groups with substantial political potential. We need to develop distinct, targeted programming, which is specifically aimed at these two groups.
Start working in the community. There are many needs in our community that we, as committed volunteers, can meet, which would help develop relationships and inspire trust. We should use the Dubuque Area Timebank as a springboard for coordinating both individual and group volunteer efforts. (If you’re not a member of DAT yet, sign up!)
These goals and objectives will be guiding our work as we move forward. Each of the standing committees of the Local will be expected to bear them in mind and consider how they relate to their unique mission within the organization. All members are encouraged to propose specific, actionable steps that will help us realize this vision. If you have an idea, share it and pursue it!
We need your financial support
What was most inspiring about our envisioning process was that it revealed that we share a clear understanding of what needs to be done and how to go about doing it. Moreover, it was exciting to see that we are all committed to seeing our vision come to fruition. However, the fact of the matter is that we will need financial resources to pursue the goals we’ve identified.
This is where you can make an immediate and ongoing impact: If you are in a financial position to support the Local, we encourage you to commit to making a monthly donation. Without a stable monthly income from our members, we cannot offer high-quality training, secure a physical location, or engage in the long-term solidarity organizing that we believe is necessary. There are presently over 75 people actively affiliated with DDS. If we each committed to giving $10 or $20 per month, we would be in a financial position to begin pursuing even our most ambitious goals. So please make a recurring donation of at least $10. If you are able to give more, please do so. We cannot realize our vision for the future without your help!