Published: June 26, 2019
NYC-DSA has become a powerhouse in New York politics and we are by far the largest chapter of DSA, representing about 10% of national membership. However, our rate of active membership is low and our complex internal structure can be hard to navigate for new members. To deepen & sustain our movement, our internal politics must be open, transparent, and accessible to all members. We must strengthen the relationships between the branches, working groups, and citywide leadership bodies in order to increase communication and collaboration between the three.
We are a group of organizers who helped DSA grow to its current state and we are running to help Central Brooklyn continue to evolve. Members of our slate have served on CBK, SBK, AND B/UM branch Organizing Committees; led and participated in the Ecosocialist, Healthcare, Socialist Feminist, Debt and Finance, Electoral, Immigrant Justice, Tech Action, Media, and Service Industry Working Groups. We have also worked on the Red Rabbits, Mobilizer Program, Afrosocialist Caucus, and in abolition networks.
A vibrant democratic process requires more than just voting. It requires that our members to understand and engage with the stakes of our democracy—that they not only participate in rich debates but have a hand in shaping the strategy and direction of the chapter itself.
When the CLC + SC vote on proposals and resolutions, setting priorities for chapter resources and work, the decisions should originate not from siloed groups and individuals, but from the collective and generative political discussion of membership facilitated by Delegates with the branch. We believe that by coordinating these discussions effectively between working groups and leadership through the branch, the priorities we develop will create valuable intersections between citywide strategies + campaigns, and their local realization.
To further facilitate a deeper democratic culture that bridges the CBK branch with Chapter Leadership we will:
・ Ensure regular updates about the CLC/SC are sent out to the larger membership—important deadlines, planning discussions, meeting minutes, and overall results of CLC/SC work.
・ Work with the rest of the CLC to develop a proposal tracker accessible to members that will include vote results, bottom-lining volunteers, and updates, as one tool towards creating more transparency and accountability in the CLC.
Our membership should be the strongest voice in directing our politics and strategy. We will work alongside the CBK OC to make the branch a site of democracy that engages everyone in the political development, deliberation, and decision-making that guides our citywide leadership bodies in their work.
As electoral endorsements are made for city council in 2021, consistent communication between branches, working groups, and leadership will be essential. We want to develop candidates entrenched in movement work and political projects that our working groups, branches, and coalition partners are engaged in. We want CBK members to be empowered to shape the nomination and endorsement processes and to share their experiences as members of the community a candidate represents.
At the citywide convention, we passed a resolution creating a commission to improve the branch system. Over the next year, NYC-DSA will address the question of the role of the branches, and how they relate to working groups and citywide leadership. We are resolved to work closely with all of these representative structures, facilitating an open exchange of ideas and practices between the branch, citywide leadership, and the working groups to answer these important questions. We will help establish from the start of our term a model for branch life and operation that builds our base of membership, engages them directly in our democracy and our work, and drives even more successful initiatives and campaigns over the next year.
In order to continue growing and retain our current members, it is critical to foster a healthy and supportive community. Some improvements are structural solutions, such as deepening our conflict mediation skills and refining the grievance process with transformative justice when possible. But in order to make better systems, we must reflect, evaluate and analyze our current culture and norms, to unlearn oppressive dynamics that capitalism has ingrained in each of us. The gender dynamics survey, recently okayed for implementation by the outgoing steering committee, seeks to better understand how members’ experiences of sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression impact our ability to organize as a chapter. As members of the CLC we will ensure that everyone from rank and file members to the highest levels of citywide leadership is engaged in reflecting on our culture and building the community we seek.
As members of a wide range of working groups, it’s of great importance to us that there is broader engagement in citywide leadership from all the organizing spaces of our chapter. We see the CLC as a space where we can discuss and debate the intersections of our various political projects and we want to make sure that all working groups can be engaged and represented in these discussions. As we move through this year and beyond, we want to continually renew and deepen our commitment to the newly ratified policy platform and reflect on how we can enact action items and engage new members through this ongoing work.