This July, myself and a group of comrades from the chapter’s Street Corps Working Group organized and carried out two Brake Light Clinics. These were hosted outside of the Minnesota Nurses Association and Minneapolis Federation of Teachers union offices who were generous enough to let us use their spaces. Brake Light Clinics are a mutual aid event where we change community members’ brake lights for free.
We were able to serve around a dozen community members this month with their brake lights and tail lights. Additionally we were able to distribute packets of “Know Your Rights” information as well as information on Twin Cities DSA and our organizing in the community. One attendee informed us that part of the reason they attended was because their mother was a DSA member in another city and they felt comfortable stopping by our clinic seeing that we were DSA operated. This was a great opportunity for us to enhance our own skills as an organizing group, practice some basic car maintenance skills, socialize with one another, and serve the community.
The Role of Mutual Aid in Organizing:
One likely may ask, why do a Brake Light Clinic? Surely a more effective way to help motorists would be to focus on our local government institutions and legislature to pass regulations and laws that reduce the burden of vehicle ownership and its associated costs? Or regulations and laws to rein in a local police force hell bent on harassing motorists, particularly those most marginalized? One would be correct actually to make this point, if the point was solely to alleviate the plight of the community from above. But to build a mass multiracial working class socialist Twin Cities will require both that and the mass participation of our neighbors.
An elected government office will always be seen as distant and as a form of “other” in a system such as ours that currently is not truly a democracy. But a neighbor stopping over to directly give you a helping hand? A neighbor who will reach out to you to not just meet your needs but to also ask you to join them in helping all of the neighborhoods needs? A neighbor who makes you feel empowered? That results in us not being seen as out of touch, distant, or as “niche” to the community. That makes us be seen as comrades. And when we combine such efforts of good will with political education and agitation, that is how we combine the strength we are accumulating in the halls of power with the heart of power itself: an organized and class conscious community of comrades.
We have a lot of work to do, and a lot of work we have done already, to build the new socialist Twin Cities. Once our local neighbors see us organizing in their local elected offices, in their workplaces, and finally right outside their homes, our combined efforts will win us that better world we are actively building right now.
If you agree, and you are looking to get involved, please consider getting involved with our chapters Street Corps Working Group! We can best be reached on the chapter Slack in the #Street-Corps-Working-Group channel.
by Shane M.