Fanning the Flames: 2018 In Review
For Twin Cities DSA, 2018 was a year in which we seized on the massive energy and growth around socialism in America and took on deep organizing, mass mobilization, direct action, and electoral politics. Over the course of the year we held hundreds of meetings, six general body meetings, and had nearly 400 people join DSA as dues-paying members. The tireless labor of our rank-and-file members, branch organizers, and members of the Steering Committee led to a banner year the chapter. Here’s just a taste of what we were up to this last year:
We started the year with a bang In January, with over 100 people packed into a North Minneapolis community center- a record for the chapter (that would be broken later that year). Shortly after our meeting, Ecosocialist organizers in our chapter kicked off February with our own kind of Super Bowl party: a mobilization with indigenous water protectors in downtown Minneapolis calling on US Bank to stop pipeline investment and respect native land.
We unwound and relaxed later that month with the People’s Prom, a dance party fundraiser to send our Socialist Feminist organizers to the Labor Notes conference in Chicago.
Our March meeting shortly after had us introducing new members to the multiple campaigns, branches, and interest groups that our chapter has developed so we can fight capitalism with a multitude of strategies and approaches. That month also saw our Socialist Feminist branch joining allies for an International Women’s Day march with friends and allies for an end to violence and assault and gender justice.
As April approached, we fought cabin fever with- you guessed it- more organizing. Our chapter was approached by Minnesota Students for Change for help with marshaling and coordination for their April 20th rally at the State Capitol to demand an end to gun violence. Our members chaperoned students walking out of their schools and headed to the building that day. Only a week later, we kicked off our first ever Medicare-for-All canvass and free brakelight replacement clinic.
May kicked off with every socialist’s favorite holiday: May 1st, also known as International Workers Day. In the Twin Cities, this means going to the May Day Parade in Powderhorn, where we marched and tabled and made friends. As part of the Don’t Move, Fight Back coalition, our chapter also hosted a community panel and discussion in North Minneapolis about how to fight for renters’ rights and a city where every person has the right to a home. At our general meeting that month, our membership voted to establish our Solidarity Fund to provide direct aid to members and non-members alike in the metro area. We also helped host a candidate forum for Hennepin County Commissioner candidate.
In June, Democratic Socialists of America joined National Nurses United and Healthcare-NOW in hosting the Single Payer Strategy Conference in Minneapolis. Our local organizers attended to learn about the fight for a healthcare system that puts patients before profits and make key connections with labor leaders and unions. That month we also hosted a leadership training conference for DSA members across the Midwest. On June 30th, as part of a mass protest that subsumed downtown Minneapolis, our chapter’s Anti-ICE Mobilization Team helped lead a socialist contingent with a clear statement: it’s not enough to keep families together, but the carceral and detention state must be dismantled.
Our chapter membership meeting in July was our largest yet, with over 200 people packed into a Richfield community center. Energized by the recent victory of DSA member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, our chapter exploded in membership numbers and organizing energy. The team that helped coordinate the contingent at the anti-ICE march kept communicating and developed into a coalition called No Cages Minnesota, with Twin Cities DSA members playing key organizing roles. We ended the month by endorsing two local candidates: Jennifer Nguyen-Moore for Ramsey County Commissioner, and Brad McGarr for Shakopee City Council. We jumped right into these campaigns throughout August with the help of our Electoral branch, as well as further anti-ICE actions and events from No Cages MN. August also had us helping out for the national Young Democratic Socialists of America conference at the U of M.
In September, the numerous Dolly Parton partisans of the Socialist Feminist branch hosted a screening of 9 to 5 and a discussion on workplace organizing, patriarchy in the workplace, and the need for a socialist feminism that fights the boss. Our Ecosocialist branch also attended the local People’s Climate Summit, stressing the need for environmental justice that moves our world towards a socialist future. We ended the month with a chapter convention where we welcomed a new co-chair and Political Activism coordinator to the Steering Committee.
Our November started with an energetic and powerful action as part of the Twin Cities Clinic Defense coalition, with a literal brass band joining us and allies to stand up against anti-choice reactionaries picketing an abortion clinic. The No Cages Minnesota coalition was also going strong with a Dancing on ICE concert and fundraiser featuring local artists and musicians. We head into December having already held a public forum against ICE expansion and with one last general meeting before the year is out.
Organizing is by and large thankless and invisible work, and for every big event highlighted above there have been thousands of planning meetings, one-on-one conversations with new members, and hundreds of hours spent on behind-the-scenes data management and administrative labor. To everyone who spent any of their time doing volunteer work for our chapter, I cannot thank you enough.
As socialists, we know that the world we want- a democratic world free of exploitation, oppression, and hatred- isn’t going to come tomorrow. This calls on us to step up, get outside of our comfort zones, and begin building power at the city, neighborhood, and block level. As organizer Myles Horton said, we’re in this for the long haul, and we’re learning how to keep the fire of change burning bright. I can’t wait to see what we build in 2019.
Solidarity forever and ever,
Co-chair, Twin Cities DSA
Twin Cities DSA, led by its Ecosocialism Branch, plans to deliver a forceful message this Tuesday to our state government about the consequences for all Minnesotans and all life on the planet should they stand by and let Line 3 get built this coming Tuesday the 18th.
Follow chapter social media for updates, and stay tuned to the chapter calendar for future actions as this campaign continues into 2019 and a new administration in the statehouse.
Left media has been pumping out stories about the surging left ecology moment. Here are a few that help us keep things focused on the only solution that will work to save our world, one that is built around democracy and egalitarianism:
Richard Smith argues for an emergency plan to meet the climate emergency and “do what the science demands before it’s too late.”
A conversation with Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson.
Between “Ecological” Neoliberalism and “Apolitical” Movements
‘It has been long understood that “consumer sovereignty” is a myth. To make fundamental changes in the commodity economy it is necessary to have power over production’
— John Bellamy Foster
For Further Review
With so many great podcasts, articles, books and videos coming out, it’s easy to miss something great. Here’s a few things we’ve found and loved recently:
How a decade of crisis changed economics
Its time that tech got organized
Things are in motion for a brave new libertarian society, we need to stop it
Pod Damn America and Antifada talk IWW and what their legacy means today