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.

 

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 56 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 95 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. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 27 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. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
· 14 rsvps

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Bill Barclay, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 5 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.