Fifteen MADSA members, including four of our officers, just returned from a Southeastern DSA pre-convention conference in Knoxville, TN, one of several such events taking place throughout the country. This gathering was especially important for us because the DSA national convention, which takes place very two years, will happen in Atlanta this time (Aug. 2-4, 2019).
In Knoxville we met with comrades from Chattanooga, Charlotte, Louisville, Middle TN, NE TN, Memphis, South Mississippi, Charleston, Birmingham, Greensboro, and Asheville. (Florida and Louisiana are meeting with Texas.) The conference was facilitated by NPC member Allie Cohn (Knoxville), national DSA Director Maria Svart, SE field organizer Kaitlin Marone, and national DSA Operations Manager Kristina Sepulveda. It was a great opportunity to get to know our neighbors and strengthen our region’s presence in the organization.
We reviewed the priorities agreed on at the 2017 convention (Medicare for All, labor issues, elections and – for YDSA – College for All); discussed regional issues and organizing strategy, including in rural areas; and attended training sessions on grassroots fundraising, strategic campaign planning, and conducting political education, plus a special training for grievance officers. We also learned skills for convention participation, including Robert’s Rules of Order and active listening. Finally, we engaged in a morning of wide-ranging debate about how we should approach climate change, anti-fascism work, and the Bernie candidacy.
A few of us had attended the historic 2017 convention, but with no such preparation, although attendance had expanded to 1,000 from about 150 in previous years because the organization had grown from some 7,000 members to 25,000. Now, with 55,000 members, we will again have 1,000 delegates, and look forward to another amazing experience. We will have more information to share with MADSA members on our role as the host chapter soon, and plan to hold a special meeting about the convention, electing delegates, and volunteer opportunities.