February 2019 General Meeting Notes

Hi everybody!

This month’s minutes are here, with some (but not all) of our events for February included! To stay updated on all our events, check LawrenceDSA.com/calendar as the month goes on. That said, without further ado, here’s some of them:

Every Saturday and Sunday this month, starting on the 9th, the Housing Working Group will be gathering people at the Sunflower House (1406 Tennessee) to canvass renters in Lawrence on tenants rights issues here! If you’re interested, let us know and I’ll put you in contact with them!

On Friday, February 15th at 7:30 pm the Newsletter Working Group will be having a meeting at a member’s residence to discuss their upcoming issues–let us know if you’re interested in going and we’ll give you the address! Don’t worry, we’re not withholding it because we don’t want you to go, we just don’t like to broadcast that stuff super publicly.

On Friday, February 15th at 6:30 pm the Healthcare Working Group will be meeting with a city official to talk healthcare. All members are welcome and healthcare is not the only thing that will be talked about! If you’re interested, send an RSVP to the Healthcare Committee (healthcare@lawrencedsa.com)

On February 19, 21, 26, 28, Theory Group will be meeting at either the Library or online, depending on the date. For more info on where the meetings will be and what will be read, go to lawrencedsa.com/calendar!

On Wednesday, February 20th at 6:30 pm at Kennedy Elementary School (1605 Davis Rd) we’ll be having a New Member Meet and Greet! It’ll be good fun for anyone who wants to come as we discuss what socialism is, what our chapter is, and have some good discussions along the way. If you want to introduce friends to the chapter, this is the place to do it!!

On Monday, February 25th at 7 pm at S&S Coffee (2208 Iowa), Reading Group will be meeting to discuss Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. It’s always good fun, so read up and come on down!

And that’s everything for now! It should be a great month for us, and more events will be announced soon! So, let’s talk about the General Meeting.

Our excellent co-chair started us off with an icebreaker focusing on the creation of little Socialist Valentines, which was a lot of fun and produced some powerfully silly valentines. After that, our Treasurer walked us through our Community Agreements and Robert’s Rules, both of which we’re continuing to use at General Meetings. We try very hard to make sure that our Community Agreements encourage voices that are often unheard to be heard–if you feel that we aren’t doing a good enough job, or even if we are that there is a change we could make to be doing even better, please let us know!!

Also, under our new bylaws, only members who are national-dues-paying are allowed to have binding votes. We’re extremely aware of the spot this puts some of our members in, and so if you are not currently national dues-paying and cannot afford to be, but want to be, let us know and we can put you in contact with one of our members who have volunteered to be sponsors.

After that, we got reportbacks from our Working Group leaders! And, if any of the work that follows sounds interesting, let us know and we can put you in contact with the leader of that group.

Housing did canvassing last month, and turned out nearly 40 to its month-ending tenants’ rights meeting. This month will be more-or-less the same, as the group plans on continuing its door-knocking campaign in the run-up to a similar meeting toward the end of this month.

Healthcarealso had a big month last month, hosting Lori Slettehaugh of Healthcare Now! for an event toward the end of the month. This month is also going to be focused on getting the word out about Medicare for All, especially in the upcoming week as part of the nationwide M4A Week of Action! Be ready for canvassing and other action, with news to come very very soon.

Newsletter also had a big January! They put out the first issue of our new socialist periodical, focused on housing, and the second through fourth issues are already in the pipe (focusing on wages, education, and love & sexuality). If you’re interested in being involved with any of those–writing something, making a graphic, helping with the print process, anything–let us know and we’ll put you in touch. They will be having a meeting soon, the details for which can be found above.

Socialist Feminism went to the KC Women’s March in January with hot drinks and our banner and good chants! It was great and a lot of fun, and going forward, they’re looking to build power in preparation for the nationwide Women’s Strike day in March.

Socialist Education had Socialist Feminist Theory Group last month, and although they’re looking to do more feminist lit going forward, this month is something of a return to form. All of their dates and times can be found on the website at LawrenceDSA.com/calendar

Reading Group had a large meeting at the end of last month to talk about Lenin’s State and Revolution, and we all had a spirited and good-natured discussion of the text and its implications today. This month, we’ll be reading Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, a novel! It should be just as illuminating and enjoyable as anything we’ve ever read though, and the info for that meeting can be found above.

Electoral had a meeting recently and is talking to voter advocacy groups in town. They’re looking at maybe putting together a campaign centered on Kansas’s Senate Bill 43 which would allow same-day voter registration in Kansas.

Labor are still working on organizing teachers. If you know any, at any level, let us know. Also, members of the committee are working on organizing service workers, so if you’re one of those, still let us know!

KU is still looking for someone to take the lead on organizing on campus. Anyone who would be interested in this would not do so alone–the Steering Committee is willing to help anyone any way we can to get organizing going on campus.

Transport has successfully bought a bus!!! We have a bus!! It’s a bus!! If you’re not sure why we have a bus, that’s okay, the working group wrote up a 13-page report a month or two ago which spells out most of the reasons as well as the risks and upkeep costs. But, perhaps more notably, we also voted at the meeting for the chapter to approve a fundraiser on GoFundMe to reimburse the members who paid out of pocket for the bus, as well as to get funds together to put toward the first year of bus ownership! It’s currently running, and after just about 2 full days, we’ve almost met our goal! It’s fantastic, we’re very happy, and we’re looking forward to all getting to use the bus in one way or another. Find the GoFundMe here: https://www.gofundme.com/lkdsabus

So, with reportbacks brought to an exciting end, we spent some more time talking about the bus before voting on and approving the fundraiser.

The next order of business was confirming our Security Committee Chair, but as the only candidate was absent and therefore unable to speak in favor of themselves, we tabled the item until the next meeting.

Our next big topic was the Regional Preconvention, which will be taking place on March 9th and 10th in Denver. It will be focused on getting ready for the National Convention in June, with lots of trainings and panels and discussions–if you plan on continuing to do organizing with DSA, this might be a good thing for you to go to! It will help you get connections with people interested in doing similar work in other chapters, as well as providing you with just a good baseline of organizing knowledge. We get five official delegates, so if you’re interested in going, let us know!! The National will pay for transportation and lodging, so don’t worry about those. If you are able to do it, think about it! Also, we may take the bus, which could be fun.

Next we talked about a new proposed set of rules for the chapter. Since the last General, the Steering Committee has been talking about caucuses. Caucuses, if you don’t know, are internal organizations within DSA which bring people with similar beliefs regarding DSA’s direction together. This is not a bad thing! But we as the Steering Committee felt that our chapter should remain officially separate from caucuses, and that no chapter business should be conducted in the name of- or even in association with- a caucus. If you’re interested in seeing the proposed rules in full, which were discussed and debated but ultimately tabled until the next meeting in consideration of time, you can find them here.

If you have any questions about them, or additions, let us know, and we’ll be talking about them either at the next General Meeting or at a separate rules meeting sometime this month, news to come.

Our Grievance Process (full text here) was finally voted on and adopted as rules outside of the bylaws. It’s been a long road, but the long-and-short of it is that we have a grievance process! And the first step, if you ever feel victimized, is to reach out to whichever member of the Steering Committee you feel most comfortable reaching out to. The process is victim-led, and focused on getting justice in the way most comfortable for the victim, so please don’t hesitate if you ever feel in any way aggrieved. Our chapter should be a safe space for everyone, and if it isn’t, something needs to be changed immediately.

At this point we were very short on time, so we tabled for yet another month the changes to the bylaws that had been proposed by the Bylaw Amendment Committee.

Finally, we opened the floor for questions and comments not relating to the agenda items. During this time, a member pointed out the lack of transparency in Steering Committee meetings as an item of concern, and the Steering Committee broadly agreed that it had not been enough of a concern for us. Going forward, we will be alerting chapter members in advance of meetings so that members can sit in as observers.

So that’s it! If you have any questions about our events, our group, or anything vaguely left-leaning at all, feel free to ask! 

January 2019 General Meeting

Howdy all!

First off, a couple things:

Join DSA proper! Dues start at $20/year for students, and it helps the organization at all levels–once we’re officially recognized, we can even start getting a cut of all the dues paid nationally. Just go to dsausa.org/join

Now, if you’re anything like me, you had a delightful and exhausting holiday season, but it’s the New Year now, and so that means it’s time to jump back into organizing with a fervor that you never had within you! Our first General Meeting of the year was on Monday, and what a meeting it was. Below, you’ll find a brief outline of all of our upcoming events, then a more in-depth description of everything that happened, including links and attachments where relevant. It’s a lot of information, but it’s all important information and very good to know!

Upcoming Events in January:

  • Jan. 12th, 13th, 20th, 26th, 27th
    • The Housing Working Group will be canvassing.
  • Jan. 15th, 11:30am
    • The Healthcare Working Group will be spearheading a contingent of LKDSA’ers going to the Kansas People’s Agenda rally at the State Capital in Topeka. If you want to attend, please preregister at kansaspeoplesagenda.org. If you need a ride, let us know!
  • Jan. 15th, 17th, 29th, 30th, 6-7pm
    • The Socialist Education Working Group, in concert with the Socialist Feminism Working Group, will be holding Socialist Feminist Theory Group in the Meeting Rooms at the Library. No prior reading required.
  • Jan. 18th, 7pm (subject to change)
    • The Steering Committee will be holding our chapter’s first bi-weekly New Member Meet’n’Greet of the New Year! The location is TBD, but if you have any friends who you think might be interested in us but who might be intimidated by a General Meeting, this is the thing to recommend to them! And it’s not just for new folks either! It’s a fun time, so come on down to [REDACTED] and have a hoot and a holler.
  • Jan. 19th, 2pm
    • The Socialist Feminist Working Group is going to be canvassing at the KC Women’s March! It’ll be a lot of fun and it’s always great to be part of a march. Let us know if you need a ride!
  • Jan. 21st or 22nd (clarification as the date approaches)
    • The Labor Working Group will be attending a Kansas Appleseed meeting, discussing strategies to radicalize workers and develop a worker-driven response group to Downtown Lawrence Inc. The meeting will be taking place at 211 E 8th St, and more information is forthcoming.
  • Jan. 23rd, 11am
    • The KU Working Group are planning on tabling at KU’s Winterfest, looking to sign students onto our email list and begin to get them involved in organizing both on campus and in the community! If you’re a student who would be interested in tabling as part of this, let us know!
  • Jan. 28th, 7pm
    • Our Reading Group will be meeting at S&S Coffee (on the Northeast corner of 23rd & Iowa) to discuss State and Revolution by Lenin. You are strongly encouraged to read the book before the meeting, but you’re allowed to come either way! If you need a copy, email contact@lawrencedsa.com, because one of our co-chairs has… a completely reasonable number of copies, which he is willing to give away to any interested party for free.
  • Jan. 30th, 5:30-6:30pm
    • The Healthcare Working Group has booked Lori Slettehaugh of Healthcare Now! which is part of the KC M4A coalition to speak with us! The event will be held at the beautiful Carnegie Building at 200 W. 9th St. Tell your friends, and come on out! The group will also be flyering in preparation for the event, so if you’re interested in helping with that, let us know!
  • Jan. 31st, 7pm
    • The Housing Working Group is finishing our month with a bang–holding a community forum/teach-in on housing and tenants’ rights to get a sense of what our chapter’s aims on that subject ought to be and inform folks about what they can do to improve their lives as renters. It will be in the Library’s Auditorium, and most of their canvassing throughout the month will be to the end of turning out people for this, so tell everyone you know who rents about it!

And that’s it! Wow! That’s a lot of events. There will be others as well, and we’ll let you know about those as we get closer to them! If you have any questions about any of those, let us know.

But, without further ado, let’s get to the actual meeting. This one was a really big one, in a lot of ways, so I’m going to make every effort to spend as little time on all of the many, many things that happened as possible.

We had incredible attendance for this meeting, with plenty of new or fairly new people, which brought into sharp relief how badly we need to find a larger space for our General Meetings. The good folks on the Steering Committee are working on this, but if you know of any spaces we might be able to use, let us know!

This was the first meeting in which we made use of Robert’s Rules, and we put that system to good use by voting on a whole lot of things. We will continue to use it in future meetings, so if you’re not familiar, we encourage you to look them up and get some familiarity with them (though we will continue to explain them at the beginning of every General Meeting for the foreseeable future.)

The first matter at hand was, as always, Working Group reports, and I’ll hit very quickly the state of all of them below. If you have interest in any of the work any of our WGs are doing, email contact@lawrencedsa.com, and I’ll connect you with the person leading that work!

The Housing Working Group is set to have a busy month, canvassing to get the word out for their community forum/teach-in before it occurs on the month’s final day. They need help with their canvassing, and any help you can give in getting the word out will be appreciated. Details above.

The Electoral Working Group is recruiting! They’re looking for people who are interested in researching candidates or developing electorally-oriented campaigns for the chapter to work on! Also, though he didn’t do so under the auspices of the Electoral Working Group, member Dave is looking for anyone who would be interested in working on a voter registration campaign–and that campaign is undoubtedly going to be closely entwined with the Electoral Group. If you’re interested in helping getting folks in Douglas County more actively involved in their political lives, let us know, and we’ll put you in touch with Dave.

The Healthcare Working Group is going to be participating in a Kansas People’s Agenda rally in Topeka on the 15th, and is hosting Lori Slettehaugh, a Medicare for All speaker, here in town on the 30th! More info on both above. They’ll also be in need of some legwork for flyering to increase awareness for their speaker!

The Socialist Feminist Working Group is working on getting people together to attend and canvass at the KC Women’s March on the 19th. More info on the event above. This is in preparation for the Women’s Strike in March, which we plan to help organize a contingent for in Lawrence. If you think that we might be able to organize a Women’s Strike in your workplace, and would be interested in organizing to that end, let us know! And, even if you don’t, as things progress, the WG is going to be trying to create a strike fund to subsidize any workers who participate in the strike for their lost wages, so you may still be able to help! More info forthcoming.

The Socialist Education Working Group is working with the SocFem Working Group on having several Socialist Feminist Theory Groups later this month–more info above.

Reading Group took last month off because it usually falls late in the month, but it’s back with a vengeance this month, as we’re reading Lenin’s State & Revolution. Read it, and then come to the meeting on Jan. 28th and talk about it!

The Newsletter Working Group is working on putting together the beginnings of a left-wing local news source for Lawrence and its environs. At the moment, they’re planning on creating a 4-page Monthly Newsletter, with the first month’s edition focusing on Housing issues. If you’re interested in doing some graphic design, writing, editing, or anything else regarding the Newsletter, let us know!

The Labor Working Group is working with Kansas Appleseed as well as local educators at all levels of education. They’ll be representing our chapter at the Kansas Appleseed Service Worker meeting on the 21st or 22nd (more info above), and remain closely in league with the graduate teaching assistants’ union at KU.

Hannah, lead on the KU Working Group, is looking for people who would be interested in taking the lead on organizing on campus. Email contact@lawrencedsa.com if you would be interested and we’ll put you in contact! Even so, we will be tabling at KU Winterfest on the 23rd, details above.

Last but not least, our Mutual Aid Working Group got a tour of the Lawrence Community Shelter, and their directorship expressed interest in working with us if we would be willing to do any volunteer work with them! If you would be interested in that at any point, let us know so we can try to get groups together to go help!

Okay, so that’s what our working groups are up to, so now we only have the details of what actually happened at the meeting itself, so there’s not too much more, I promise!

After Working Group Reports, we moved on to one of the larger issues that has plagued our chapter–actually being recognized as an official chapter by the National Organization. We’re nearly at the end of the process, but had received recommended edits to our bylaws from the National Committee who review every new chapter’s bylaws to make sure they’re in line with DSA’s values. There were only three recommended changes that our Steering Committee felt were large enough to warrant being voted on by the chapter at large–those to our Quorum rules, our rules surrounding Membership in Good Standing, and our Grievance Process.

On quorum, our previous policy was arcane and would have made it very difficult for us to make quorum during the summer months. National recommended that we change it to being at least 5% of chapter membership, but no fewer than 6 members in good standing (more on that shortly.) There was little disagreement or commentary on this change.

On our membership-in-good-standing rules, National had basically one note: remove them. National has fairly strict rules against chapters having their own rules for membership outside of paying National dues. When we had talked to people from National about this, it seemed relatively clear that this wasn’t something they were interested in budging on, so we didn’t force the point. What this will mean going forward is that only people who are current on their dues to National will be eligible for elected offices in our chapter, and to vote on chapter issues in meetings. However, if you are interested in running for elected office, or just want to be a member in good standing, let the Steering Committee know! We want to enable as many people as possible to pay dues to National, and can help financially. If you want to do it yourself, just pop on over to dsausa.org/join!

Finally, our grievance process. National’s note here was to remove it from the bylaws, but not strike it from our rules entirely. The thing about bylaws is that they can only be changed over the course of at least two General Meetings, and only with a chapter vote. This isn’t a good thing for a grievance process, which should, even if crafted well, still be changeable to fit the needs of circumstance. We will be adopting our grievance process as it existed in our bylaws previously as our official grievance process, but it won’t be in the bylaws, so it will be changeable by emergency vote if a corner case arises.

All of these changes were basically uncontroversial and passed unopposed in a chapter vote. If you have any questions or concerns, absolutely let us know. Just because there was limited discussion at the meeting doesn’t mean that there aren’t valid concerns to be voiced.

That concluded our discussion about our bylaw changes. After this, we took some time to ratify five working groups which hadn’t yet been officially recognized and ratified, while we had the chapter present.

The Healthcare Working Group and Newsletter Working Group were ratified pretty easily and quickly. The Transport and Socialist Feminist Working Group, both relatively new, laid out their proposals, and the Transport Working Group (better known as the Bus Working Group) especially enjoyed fun and vigorous discussion, basically all positive. The Socialist Feminist Working Group was similarly well received, and both were ratified unopposed. That said, the Transport Group deserves a bit more explanation on account of how different it is from others.

If you didn’t know, our co-chair Z has been wanting a bus for the chapter for a few months now. If this sounds wild to you, that’s because it is, but he has prepared a thirteen-page report on all of the ins and outs of the bus. I’m not gonna try to do justice to his arguments, but I encourage you to read it for yourself. Either way, the Working Group has been ratified and its goal is endorsed by the chapter, so we look forward to seeing what that turns up!

All of that said, our eyes should remain firmly on on-the-ground organizing and building working class power! And to that end, we also ratified a new elected position: The Security Committee Chair, and the associated committee. This position and committee will exist to keep an eye on local reactionary groups as well as being familiar with their goals both short and long-term.

So, we need people to nominate themselves for the position! If you think you have what it takes, or even think that you could at some point in the future, we encourage you strongly to nominate yourself and write up a brief paragraph about why you think you could do the job well! We have one nomination already, and we’d love to have several more.

And with that, we were done with the work of the meeting! We got so much done! We have so much coming up this month, and so much more floating off in our future! The future of the chapter is somehow even brighter than its present, and there’s no better time to get more involved than now.

Speaking of getting involved, how can you do that? Just get in contact about something you’re passionate about, and we’ll connect you with someone working on it! Or, if there isn’t anyone, we’ll give you the help you need to get started on it yourself! Contact us at contact@lawrencedsa.com!

And that’s it! If you read all this, thanks! If you didn’t, thanks still!

Solidarity and Love,

Secretary, LKDSA

January Reading Group

dsa-reading group prop

This month, after much anticipation, we will be discussing State and Revolution by the absolute lad V. I. Lenin on Wednesday, January 28th at 7pm at S&S Artisan Pub and Coffeehouse. (Please note the place change!)

State and Rev is one of Lenin’s most enduring and important works on the role and nature of the bourgeois state on both sides of the proletarian revolution. Courtesy of the Steering Committee, there will be a few free paperback copies available at the next general meeting. You can also find it online for free at the Marxist Archive. Any edition is fine however—the text and its ideas continue to be relevant regardless of the publication date.

Come with your observations, questions, and connections! All are welcome.

So to repeat: the next Reading Group meeting will be January 28th @ 7pm and we’ll be talking State and Revolution. I, for one, can’t wait.

January 2019 General Meeting Agenda

The January 2019 General Meeting will be on Monday, January 7th at 7PM in the Lawrence Public Library (Meeting Room C).

The Agenda for the meeting is as follows. Time estimates in parentheses.

  • (5:00) Introductions and Ice-Breaker
  • (2:00) Open floor for adding items to the agenda
  • (2:00) Vote on agenda
  • (5:00) Overview of Robert’s Rules / Community Agreement
  • (13:00) Reportbacks / Intro to Working Groups (1 minute each)
      • Housing
      • Electoral
      • Healthcare
      • Socialist Feminism (Additional 3 minutes)
      • Socialist Education
      • Reading Group
      • Newsletter
      • Labor
      • KU
      • Homelessness / Mutual Aid
  • (15:00) Overview of Bylaw Changes
      • Why are the Bylaws changing?
      • What changes are being made to the LKDSA Bylaws?
      • Suggested future changes
      • Chapter Vote on bylaw changes from Review Committee
  • (12:00) Vote on ratifying Working Groups (3 minutes each)
      • Transport Working Group
      • Socialist Feminist Working Group
      • Newsletter Working Group
      • Healthcare Working Group
  • (10:00) Open Floor
  • (5:00) Plan for next General Meeting
  • (5:00) Close Out


August Reading Group

Hi hi hi everyone! Happy last week of August!

Tonight at 7:30pm in Room B of the LPL is Reading Group! There is no assigned reading tonight. Instead, we’re doing our 2nd ever Lefty Show and Tell! Have you read, watched, or heard something that speaks to your socialist heart and want to talk about it? Perfect! Read, watched, or heard something that is so ridiculous you need to vent about it? Also perfect! Have a question or observation you want to talk about in a room full of your socialist comrades? Can’t express how perfect that is too.

See you there tonight!

dsa-reading group prop

July Reading Group

dsa-reading group prop

Get ready for our next installment of the LKS DSA Reading Group! It’s coming up in 2 weeks, on July 30th at 7pm in the Lawrence Public Library, room C.

This time we’ll be talking about the excellent, award-winning essay “Community, Democracy, and Mutual Aid: Toward Dual Power and Beyond” by the Symbiosis Research Collective. (That link goes directly to the pdf.)

You want a hook? Here’s a doozy of one:

The next system is more likely to succeed and endure if we steadily transform
existing institutions, modes of production, and ways of relating to one another
rather than try to conjure up a whole new system out of thin air. The heart
of our argument is that building networks of radically democratic, cooperative
institutions can sustain our communities and our collective struggle in
the near term, organize our base to win fights with the state and private sector,
begin eroding public support for the current dysfunctional system, and, in
time, become the dominant institutions of tomorrow’s world. Our proposal
integrates process and objective, with democracy and community as both the
means and the ends of social transformation. Filling in the gaps between “scientific”
socialist analysis and utopian imagination, we have attempted something
the Left has always struggled to create: a realistic transition model to a
post-capitalist world.

Bring a friend! Eat some snacks! See you there!

July General Meeting

Whoa June came and went real quick.

It’s that time again friends, the first Monday of the month (July this time) is right around the corner, so you know what that means–it’s General Meeting time! 7/2 @ 7pm, LPL.

Fresh off the electrifying election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in NY14 (so pumped about that) we’re coming into the back half of the year all revved up. We’ve got a few things on the docket and word on the street is there’s gonna be food. Come get it!

We even made a facebook event post for the General Meeting that is in fact the very first event posted on our brand new facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lawrenceksdsa/. Don’t forget to hit like and subscribe.

June Reading Group

dsa-reading group propFollowing up on the great training at this month’s General Meeting (thanks KP for leading it, Rose for walking us through organizing conversations, and Hannah for developing it!), this month we’re going to read up on the science of organizing!

So, we’ve got 2 articles published by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung and written by Steve Williams. Both are about the transformative organizing model, the first about how to do it right and the second is the lessons learned from it. The links to the pdfs are below.

This month’s Reading Group will be on Monday, June 25 at 7pm in Room C of the Lawrence Public Library.

Transformative Organizing

Demand Everything

June General Meeting

We’re back to the same bat-time, same bat-channel of our meetings, meaning that we’re good to go for our June General Meeting on Monday 6/4 at 7pm at the Lawrence Public Library in room C.

If this will be your first time coming, or if you’re bringing somebody new, swing by a few minutes early for a little meet-n-greet with Orgcom, we’d love to get to know you a bit.

See you there!