The Activist’s Guide to 
Using DSA Literature

 
NYC DSA

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.

 

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 45 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 14 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 9 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 8 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.