Happy Holidays, comrades! As we enter into a new year, we should take a look back at 2022 and our accomplishments last year as socialists in the South
Throughout the year, we directly improved the material conditions in Wilmington by way of our river cleanups and brake light clinics. Not only are we helping to keep the city clean, but we are keeping unhoused people safe by ensuring the city does not have a reason, i.e. litter near their encampments, to call the police to evict these folks. This is a small act but an impactful one. Not only do existing members enjoy participating in the cleanups, but we’ve brought new people in as well. Being active in improving the community gives us not only the ability to reach other Wilmingtonians but also to provide education about environmental justice and housing commodification. Likewise, we’ve held several brake light clinics and been able to assist members of the community to avoid confrontations with the police and talk about policing with those who stopped by.
Last Spring, we became involved with the Middle Sound Loop Starbucks workers’ unionization campaign. We ran a fundraising drive, distributed flyers with information about the union to the nearby neighborhoods, and held a solidarity event to give the workers a chance to share their story and gather support for their struggle. Their union vote won in August and they are still awaiting negotiations with Starbucks so there is still a fight for us to help them win!
We introduced a new regular feature to our chapter in 2022- the monthly new member orientation sessions. This gives interested people a chance to meet with members of the chapter, understand better what we’re all about, and ask questions. A number of comrades have stepped up to facilitate these sessions and have built relationships with newcomers as a result.
Following the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, we organized a protest downtown and had a large turnout and several exciting speakers. Wilmington is one of the few locations in Southeast North Carolina that free reproductive care is available and we want to protect that right for all.
Our Housing Working Group officially formed the New Hanover Tenants Union to focus their organizing work on unionizing tenants and providing renters’ rights information. They held several canvasses over the course of the year and went door-to-door talking to residents specifically about their rights as tenants and learned about the conditions under which people are living. They were able to target neighborhoods owned by large local landlords, including Section 8 landlords, and gathered useful information from their conversations with the residents. In December they hosted their first ever Sip n’ Spin at Gravity Records where they tabled to talk to customers about housing issues.
In September, our Field Organizer, Patrick, made a visit to Wilmington and led a training about capacity building and leadership. We followed the training up with a social event and everyone got the chance to talk to Patrick about the work that the DSA staff are doing. As a small chapter, we have benefitted greatly from the paid DSA staff and appreciate the resources they provide and skills they’ve taught our members so far.
In October we held a chapter planning meeting where we discussed the top issues in our area and how those should inform our priorities for 2023. The attendees concluded that labor and housing were the top two focus areas and that we should run a pressure campaign to help build our organizing capacity and to put the chapter in front of the public. This priority was re-affirmed when several of our leaders attended the Regional Organizing Retreat in Atlanta this December. The NC chapters agreed that running a pressure campaign is a worthwhile effort to build sustainable capacity and should be coordinated across the state because the majority of political power is concentrated at the state level. A meeting to kick off the statewide campaign was set up for January so as we depart the year with a sense of reflection on how well we are building a mass movement of the working class, we have already laid the groundwork for a better year ahead.
2022 was a year where relationships were built with other progressive groups in Wilmington and local labor unions. We learned basic organizing skills and had more interaction with the community than before. We built the first step in having sustainable leadership development by creating a inlet for new members and interested people. We took stock of the current situation in Wilmington and North Carolina more broadly and began a plan to build political power in both realms. It was a year of firsts and we should be proud of our accomplishments and use those to inspire us to even more in 2023!