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October 2020 General Meeting Recap

Banner for the Virtual Meeting

We we glad to welcome everyone who attended the October General Meeting!

Local News

There were two Steering Committee positions up for election. The body reelected Dan D. as Internal Secretary, and elected Henry M. as Co-Chair, replacing Bryan L. Congratulations to all, and thank you to Bryan, who has faithfully served our chapter in an official capacity and will continue to do so as a rank and file member.

We debated a resolution for the creation of a Housing Working Group. This passed with 31 yes votes, 0 no votes, and 0 abstentions. You can read the text of the resolution here. They certainly will be doing good work soon, so make sure to keep an eye out for opportunities to help fight for housing justice in Houston.

National News

The membership committee ran a presentation on the DSA100K recruitment drive. At the National Convention in Atlanta last year, delegates established to goal of growing DSA membership to 100K by 2021. To meet those goals, Houston needs to increase our membership by 10%, or 78 members. We are asking all members to sign the pledge to recruit 3 new members by going to dsausa.org/recruit. The first 500 members to reach this goal will get a nifty DSA hat, and the next 1000 will be getting some swag as well! We’ll be having an in-depth training on how to ask people to join DSA Saturday, October 17th at 2pm. We’ll see you there!

Categories
Reading Group

Reading Group/Author Talk with Mark Nowak and Social Poetics Recap

Reading Group: Social Poetics by Mark Nowak

In preparation for the Houston DSA Arts Collective and Political Education Committee’s author talk with Mark Nowak, the Reading Group met to read the introduction and first two chapters of Nowak’s new book, Social Poetics. The book uses Nowak’s decades of experience as a socialist cultural organizer—founding first the Union of Radical Workers and Writers, then the Worker Writers School—to explore the possibilities of building socialist culture today.

The Reading Group focused on the book’s historical sections, which offer a “people’s history” of left participatory culture in the U.S. and abroad. It focuses in particular on poetry workshops held with peasants in post-revolutionary Nicaragua, labor unions in South Africa, and prisons and working-class schools in the U.S. Discussion ranged from the student poems that came out of poet June Jordan’s poetry workshops in Harlem to the importance of art and culture in building community.

Author Talk with Mark Nowak

Then, Mark Nowak himself joined Houston DSA’s Arts Collective and Political Education Committee on Sept. 17 for a discussion of Social Poetics. Mark shared stories from his decades of socialist cultural organizing. These ranged from experiences holding poetry workshops for labor unions in South Africa, to his work with unionizing big-box bookstore workers in Minneapolis. Finally, he shared his story of founding the Worker Writers School’s ongoing workshops. These workshops featured domestic workers, taxi drivers, and other radical and union workers in New York City learning about poetry together.

We discussed the history of participatory socialist culture and what exactly Mark means by social poetics (“short for socialist poetics,” as Mark said). The landscape of left politics in the U.S. is changing, and it’s vital that we build up independent socialist cultural institutions.

“It’s important that our [poetry and cultural] workshops produce more than empathy,” Mark said. This sole emphasis on empathy, he said, struck him as a profoundly liberal idea of culture’s social role. Instead, socialist cultural organizing is about opening up spaces for communities to deepen working-class bonds, experience collectively, and build power. These are spaces developed alongside unions and left organizations that have their sights set on socialist world-making.

“Think small,” he said. “Three workers from a worker center” joining together for a writing workshop could be the start of something much bigger.

Mark Nowak

The discussion brought in DSA members and others from around the country, with Twin Cities and Chicago DSA both represented. At the end, Mark encouraged the Houston DSA Arts Collective to launch its own worker-centered cultural workshops. “Think small,” he said. “Three workers from a worker center” joining together for a writing workshop could be the start of something much bigger.

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General Meeting

September 2020 General Meeting Recap

We were glad to welcome people to our general meeting! It’s always great getting to see y’all’s faces. If you couldn’t make it this time, no sweat! That’s what this recap is for. We hope to see you at our next meeting, which will be Thursday, October 8th.

Local News

Two Steering Committee positions, Co-Chair B and Internal Secretary, are open for election in our October General Meeting. Nominations are open now, and will be closed during that meeting! For more information on these positions, you can read section 5.2 of our bylaws. If you would like to nominate yourself or someone else, send an email to nominations@houstondsa.org, or send a message to our nominations committee on Mattermost. You can only vote if you attend the next general meeting, so make sure to attend next month on October 8th to help shape our leadership and vote on these two positions!

The Houston DSA Org Chart

Our Solidarity Fund, as managed by the Mutual Aid Working Group, has given out around $2,500 to help our fellow Houstonians! Please continue to support them with donations here: https://houstondsa.org/solidarity-fund/

UFCW455 is battling with Kroger to get a fair contract that protects grocery workers, and they need your help! Our Steering Committee endorsed supporting their struggle, and last Thursday we had some members join the picket. We’d like to continue our support of local labor, so be on the look out for upcoming events to guarantee Kroger employees get good healthcare, hazard pay, and a seat at the table.

National News

DSA nationally is almost at 100,000 members! If you’d like to help close the gap, look out for the Membership Drive Kickoff Call on September 27th at 8pm, and consider joining Houston DSA’s Membership Committee. Talk to Will Lira for more information on that.

Meeting Events

We were honored to welcome Fred Glass of East Bay DSA. Fred spoke about California’s upcoming election on Proposition 15, a way of closing a corporate property tax loophole that has allowed giants like Google and Disney to get away with not paying their fair share for decades. Thanks to Fred for speaking with us! Learn more about EBDSA’s endorsement of Prop. 15 here: https://www.eastbaydsa.org/endorsements/

Lastly, we had three breakout discussion groups! In the Housing breakout group, we discussed how to use the current eviction moratorium to keep people in their homes. The Mutual Aid breakout group discussed ongoing efforts to assist after Hurricane Laura. Finally, our Welcome to DSA breakout group welcomed new members into the fold. All in all it was a successful general meeting! Again, we’d love to welcome you to these meetings, which happen on the second Thursday of every month! Next month’s is on October 8.