Austin Democratic Socialists of America

Garrick J

Pronouns: He/him

Please describe your organizing experience within Austin DSA
For over two years, I have dedicated myself to the work of building Austin DSA’s capacity and making sure our organizers have had the tools we need to win. For example, the chapter’s website and email system were both largely my creation. In late 2018, I was elected as co-chair of the chapter’s tech committee, and in the short time since then membership in the committee has tripled and we’ve started a host of exciting new projects to expand the chapter’s capacity.
In my largely administrative role, I’ve kept my politics mostly to myself, but given recent events I think we as a chapter need to have a discussion about our vision for the future of Austin DSA. I hope that this Leadership Committee election can bring us just that.

For me, that vision is a chapter that recognizes that capitalism is everywhere and impacts every part of our lives, and that we need to fight for a socialist future on all fronts. We’ve already shown together over the past two years that we can win across a broad range of issues, such as health justice with the Doggett pressure campaign, housing with the affordable housing bond, and reproductive justice with our record-breaking Bowl-a-thon fundraising haul. Every one of those victories has strengthened our movement and opened us up to new opportunities. I believe in an Austin DSA that takes that same diversity of tactics and expands it further, to antiracism, to ecosocialism, to labor, and to many other frontiers.

We’ve come so far in such a short time, but we need to ask ourselves, what will it take to win? To me, that’s an organization much larger and more powerful than it is currently, so what does Austin DSA look like at 2,000 members? 5,000? 10,000? Taking a “yes, and” approach to our organizing and radicalizing working people with all sorts of interests and backgrounds is the long-term goal. Below in the priorities are three short-term goals that I’ve identified that we can do with this remaining Leadership Committee term.

What are your priorities for the Leadership Committee?
Transparency in Leadership Committee – As of this writing, it’s not easy for rank and file Austin DSA members to learn about what their democratically elected Leadership Committee is doing. It is possible to physically attend LC meetings, and to submit requests for meeting minutes and vote counts, but all of these must individually be approved and then released. This presents a number of accessibility and general friction on knowing how our chapter leadership is deciding on issues. We can make this easier on everybody, easier and more accessible information for members, and less individual asks for LC, simply by releasing everything, all meeting minutes, all resolutions, and all rollcall votes, to the general body, by default. As soon as I’m elected, I will move to release past minutes, resolutions, and votes on a reasonable timeline, as well as ensure that all future items are released to membership by default.

Democratize chapter resources – Our chapter has a large set of tools already available for organizing work, such as textbanking, canvassing tools, social media, the website, and many others. How our organizers actually access and use those tools is controlled by an opaque informal network of knowing who to talk to about what specific tool and what their (unpublished) capabilities are. It’s a huge barrier to entry for any new organizers, and a large stumbling block to creating new leaders and expanding the scope of our chapter’s work. Our tools as socialists shouldn’t be limited to who’s in your network, it should be available to everybody who’s fighting for the cause. As a first step, I will commission a guide for our members, publishing what’s available and how we can use it to strengthen our chapter’s organizing.

Recommitment to our basebuilding work, “Building Up, Building Out” – At the chapter convention in January, we voted on building up, building out, a package of initiatives designed to build the base of the chapter and expand our chapter’s organizing capacity. This has since been sitting in an LC subcommittee, stalled out and unavailable for general body participation until very recently. I view this work as the single most important type of work our chapter can be doing as we prepare for the 2020 election season and taking power beyond that, and we can’t afford for it to be sitting any longer. My priority is to make this work the primary work of the Leadership Committee. We have proven so far that Austin DSA is great at winning campaigns, which is very important. But we also need to focus more on how we retain and share the skills and knowledge we’ve learned from our past successes so we can use it to continue growing our movement.

Being a member of the Leadership Committee is a fairly substantial time commitment. Are you comfortable spending around 10 hours a week on LC-related tasks?
Yes

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