How to Hold a Film Showing

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By Glenn Scott

When DSA’s Feminist Working Group (FWG) launched a fundraising campaign to expand abortion access for low-income women via Abortion Bowl-a-thons, Austin DSA decided to combine the bowl-a-thon with a showing of “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,” a recent documentary about the U.S. women’s liberation movement from 1960 to 1971.

Some 70 people attended the film showing, which was both the chapter’s first public feminist event and one of the largest actions the chapter has sponsored since being chartered in the fall of 2014. What follows are components of what made the event a success:

1. Get buy-in. FWG member Alice Embree proposed the event to Austin DSA and got unanimous support. She signed up at least nine volunteers at the meeting.

2. Set up a planning committee. We established a committee of DSA bowling team members and others. We purposefully recruited young women, both in and outside DSA, to work on this event. The committee divided up tasks. One member enlisted her church to approve hosting the event at a central location with free parking. Other members distributed flyers around the University of Texas, the community college, bookstores, and coffee houses. We also flyered at several feminist events.

3. Use social media. One young ally on our committee set up a Facebook event page and we each invited our FB friends. By five days out, we had 35 committed. Another young member set up a Meetup announcement on the documentary fan club site. Our DSA co-chairs put out an email invite to all members of DSA, and all planning committee members sent out emails to their networks.

4. Coordinate with allies. We connected to the Lilith Fund of Austin, which would receive the funds. One of our committee, Meaghan Perkins (new DSA member) invited Rosann Mariapurnam, a Lilith Fund board member, to speak at the event. Mariapurnam made clear the daunting barriers women in Texas face in obtaining legal abortions and the pressing need for contributions.

5. Keep track of details. Alice rode herd on all the logistical details from food, flyers, projector, signs at event, screen, set up, thank-you notes, and crediting the funds to the fundraising site.

6. Remind people more than once. We sent reminders to FB invitees, emails, and texts, in the three days leading up to the event. Almost 40% of the Facebook confirms attended, which is a very high percentage.

7. Promote DSA. At the event, Alice and I both acknowledged DSA as the sponsor. Co-chair Allison Behr was at the sign-in table. Co-chair Danny Fetonte talked with people about membership after they signed in. Alice talked about DSA’s national effort on abortion access. I did a brief introduction and brought the planning committee up front so that people could see that we were intergenerational.

8. Leverage the event. Thanks to our emails and online fundraising in addition to the film showing, we tripled our initial $500 fundraising goal by the date of our bowl-a-thon. DSA fielded two teams, each made up of young people. Older DSA members and allies were the cheering squad. Our committee brought a DSA banner, pompoms, kazoos, and costumes. Committee member Taylor Borgfeldt brought “Design your own Fallopian Fans” with a fallopian tubes graphic, markers, glue, and glitter. We have established DSA as a strong ally on abortion access. Four new members joined DSA during our campaign. Several more are interested in working with us. In addition, we now have a core group for a DSA feminist committee to do ongoing work.

Glenn Scott, a longtime union organizer and feminist activist, is a member of Austin DSA.


This article originally appeared in the summer 2016 (early June) 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: When Abortion Was Illegal

March 26, 2017
· 15 rsvps

Directed by Dorothy Fadiman, When Abortion Was Illegal (1992, nominated for an Academy Award, Best Documentary Short Subject) reveals through first-person accounts the experiences of women seeking abortion before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. We are one Supreme Court nominee away from a return in many states to back-alley abortions. Join Amanda Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund, to discuss challenges to reproductive justice and abortion access. (Lilith Fund funds abortions for women in need in the Central and South Texas area.) Learn about how to participate in April Bowl-A-Thons to raise funds for low-income women. View the film here for free before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

March 30, 2017
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You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
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Historian John D'Emilio's presentation will do 3 things: Provide a brief explanation of how sexual and gender identities have emerged; provide an overview of the progression of LGBT activism since its origins in the 1950s, highlighting key moments of change; and, finally, suggest what issues, from a democratic socialist perspective, deserve prioritizing now. John co-authored Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, which was quoted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that ruled state sodomy laws unconstitutional. 1 pm ET; 12 pm CT; 11 am MT; 10 am 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 Peg Strobel, peg.strobel@sbcglobal.net.
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Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 30 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. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT. Here's a blog post about PHIT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

April 04, 2017
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Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-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 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 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 Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

What Is DSA? Training Call

April 05, 2017

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.

Feminist Working Group

April 12, 2017
· 17 rsvps

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the elections.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

April 16, 2017
· 7 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT.