The Activist’s Guide to 
Using DSA Literature


By Elizabeth Henderson

Now that the weather is warmer and the days longer, it’s time to set up a DSA table in a high-traffic site. Whether you’re collecting signatures for the Drop Student Debt! petition, running a get-out-the-vote campaign, or spreading the word about the need to increase the minimum wage, the DSA website has something you can use. Here’s a quick rundown of how to find literature, adapt it to a specific campaign, and arrange it on your table in a way that makes folks want to stop and learn more about what your local chapter is doing.

Start by visiting the resources page on DSA's website to find everything from introductory fliers about DSA, official DSA statements, and fact sheets to Q&As and articles about socialist strategy. Articles either have a “PDF” or “print” button next to them, so you can easily make copies to distribute.

Next, pick a spot with plenty of foot traffic. A corner or any transit hub is best, so that you have people coming from multiple directions. If you have time, scout it out beforehand. Be sure you’re not violating any local ordinances.

It’s worth it to personalize the literature. Add your local’s contact information, as well as your logo and details about how to find your local on social media. Be sure you also have some fliers about upcoming events or actions that your local is organizing. If you’re printing or copying fliers yourself, write “labor donated” in small print at the bottom. If you’re gathering signatures on a petition and there are people who are interested in learning more about your local, put a star next to their name on the petition so you can remember to follow up with them. Otherwise, use a sign-up sheet.

Making sure that your table looks inviting is a key part of successful tabling. Put a large sign in front and on the sides of your table with a short slogan summing up why you’re tabling that also includes the DSA logo. (For example, if you’re petitioning for the Drop Student Debt! campaign, the sign could simply read “Drop Student Debt!”) Organize your literature so it’s easy for people to browse, and make your table extra-welcoming with a tablecloth and free candy and DSA pins. Keep a few rocks or paperweights on hand to hold down fliers in case it’s windy. But, remember that the most important part of tabling is having two friendly people at the table.

Elizabeth Henderson is co-chair of Greater Philadelphia DSA and chair of the Drop Student Debt! committee.

This article originally appeared in the summer 2014 issue of the Democratic Left magazine.

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.


How to Run a Canvass Training

March 18, 2018

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March 18th, 2018 - 4pm ET/3pm CT/2pm MT/1pm PST

At this training, we'll be running through the basics of how to set up a Medicare for All canvassing campaign in your chapter. Canvassing is a foundational political skill, and one that will help build DSA's political capacity to fight for socialism now and going forward. This training will include a "Rap Training," where we'll be going over in a bit more detail the Medicare for all door-knocking rap so as to get people comfortable with talking about the need for single-payer healthcare.

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Talking About Socialism Webinar

March 25, 2018

This training is at 7:00 pm ET, 6:00 pm CT, 5:00 pm MT, 4:00 pm PT

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Join Steve Max, a founder of the legendary community organizing school, the Midwest Academy, to practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table or canvass. This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources. Questions? Contact Theresa Alt <> 607-280-7649.

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