Introducing: the Boston DSA Synthesis Slate

Madeline Howard
Feb 23, 2018 · 10 min read

Synthesis is a group of committed DSA members with diverse perspectives and ideas who all share the strong conviction that pluralism is DSA’s greatest strength. We are eager to make major changes in the American political landscape, including the elimination of all forms of oppression, imperialism, inequality, and suffering, and we understand that we must reflect those desires in our internal structure and choices as an organization. We value transparent, direct democracy, radical kindness, sincere debate and discussion, and empowering members to create the DSA (and world) that they want to see. We believe that we can achieve socialism in our lifetimes. We’re running for Steering Committee and officer positions; meet us below!

More about the slate and our platform:

Our World to Win: An Overview of the Synthesis Platform

Plank 1: Growing Boston DSA

Plank 2: Building a Movement & Wielding Power

Plank 3: Internal Democracy & Accessibility

BETH

Beth is running for co-chair of Boston DSA. She started organizing in 2010 with the University of Wisconsin-Madison chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops and was a campus leader of the student movement to fight back against union busting, voter ID, and privatization in higher education in Wisconsin. Since these struggles, Beth has worked as a union organizer and a national student movement organizer, and currently is the director of the Massachusetts Voter Table, a statewide coalition of base-building organizations in working-class communities of color.

Since joining in November 2016, Beth has led a variety of efforts to build and wield DSA’s power, increase internal democracy, and develop a more active membership in Boston DSA. She helped lead the Electoral Working Group in crafting an endorsement process, activating members to collect 2,000 signatures for ballot initiatives for Paid Family and Medical Leave and a $15 minimum wage, and mobilizing 100 volunteers to knock on doors that led to the election of two DSA members to the Somerville Board of Alders. Beth is determined to make Boston DSA a place where all members can democratically participate and shape the direction of DSA. This requires an active membership with strong relationships of accountability. She has served as a Harassment and Grievance Officer and worked in the Resolutions Team to draft the code of conduct and resolutions procedure. With Maddie, she has helped coordinate the Mobilizer System to on-board new members, develop leaders, and build the active membership.

When she’s not strategizing about how to win 21st century socialism, you can probably find her fan-girling the latest article by Jane McAlevey, running and listening to some awesomely bad hits from the early 2000s, or cooking/baking up a storm.

EVAN

Evan is running for an at-large position on the steering committee. A recent transplant to the Boston area, Evan has spent about half his life in the South Pacific nation of New Zealand. His family moved there from California in 2005, largely because of a sense of disgust towards US foreign policy. It was in New Zealand that he had his first experiences with political activism. He spent much of his time campaigning and canvassing with the Green Party, an environmentalist (and increasingly anti-capitalist) political party. It wasn’t until returning to the United States that socialist politics became a major focus for him. The failure of the Bernie Sanders campaign, for which Evan spent time volunteering, brought him to socialist politics. His first experiences in socialist organizing were with Socialist Alternative in early 2017. He eventually became disillusioned with the organization’s structure, and became an active member of the DSA soon after. Since joining he has focused his efforts primarily on the Housing Working Group, helping to develop our relationship with coalition partners such as City Life Vida Urbana. In the past six months our work with CLVU has grown in scale and in scope, and we are now averaging two major housing justice canvasses each month. Evan has also worked on preliminary efforts to develop our own canvassing approach, one based on the DC DSA model, that uses publicly available court records to reach people that are facing imminent eviction. He helped to organize the team that built a web scraper for collecting this data (and wrote a good portion of the tool), and will be working with other members of the Housing WG to develop a strategy document for this model of canvassing. Outside of his political work, Evan works as a computational biologist at the Broad Institute, a non-profit biomedical research center in Cambridge.

KATHRYN

I’m a middle school special education teacher with Chelsea Public Schools and this is usually the first thing people learn about me. I came to Boston by way of the Chicago suburbs and Logan, Utah, a small city in the northern corner of the state. I came to Boston DSA through friends and fellow activists in early 2017. The most personally impactful lessons about organizing have come to me through my work as a teacher and a building representative for the Chelsea Teachers Union. I’m running because I’m regularly infuriated by the daily realities my students face. These realities won’t change without radical, systemic change; this change only comes through organized communities. We must be grounded in the lived experiences of systemic oppression, and be willing to fight for liberating equality. We’ve all witnessed firsthand the destruction wrought by capitalism, white supremacy, and their fellow systems of oppression. These experiences have also brought us to varied understandings of exactly what we must change, how, when, and why, and color our specific visions for the future. The role of Boston DSA, and therefore the Steering Committee, is to synthesize these diverse understandings and visions while we work for a society built through democratic socialism. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn from membership and continue working in solidarity with you all.

KIT

Kit Cali is running for the position of Treasurer. Formerly a volunteer for MA’s statewide domestic violence hotline, for the last two years Kit has worked in fundraising and communications at Casa Myrna, a Boston nonprofit that provides shelter and support to survivors of domestic violence and their children. She also organizes in her own communities against sexual coercion and domestic & dating violence. She was drawn to socialist organizing as a comprehensive way to confront the inequalities of power that keep people trapped by exploitation and abuse, whether in their homes, at work, in the streets, behind bars, or beyond. To her, socialism means true liberation for all. Under socialism, all of us come together to work to provide for the needs of each of us; we all share control of, and responsibility for, the resources we need to survive and thrive as a human community (and as a species). A DSA member for a little over a year, Kit co-organizes the Fundraising Team and has also served as a protest marshal, de-escalation team member, childcare volunteer, and National Convention delegate. She believes that the steering committee should primarily exist to facilitate the internal democracy that allows us all to work together towards a socialist future. Beyond careful stewardship of Boston DSA’s finances, her guiding principles as a member of steering committee will be to work with her comrades to make participation our internal democracy maximally accessible; implement processes that equip every member to do socialist political work that is meaningful and engaging to them; and foster a resilient, respectful, and interdependent community that can sustain us in the struggle. Her favorite leftist intellectual is probably Ursula LeGuin, and she has been described as both “a feminist killjoy” and “the mom friend.”

MADDIE

Maddie came to the DSA from a background in community organizing rooted in the traditions of her home state of North Carolina. She’s been a member of the Steering Committee for the past year, and in that capacity has helped to establish the Boston mobilizer system, build and shape our housing coalition strategy, and coordinate a low-cost Spanish class program. She’s very excited to be running for co-chair alongside Beth Huang on a platform of community engagement, rapid recruitment, and building working class power. When she’s not at a DSA event, she’s usually reading library cookbooks, repotting succulents, or listening to the Mountain Goats.

PRESLEY

Presley joined DSA about a year ago and became involved in the Electoral Politics Working Group, working on our candidate questionnaire, canvassing for the candidates we endorsed, and gathering signatures for Raise Up Massachusetts ballot initiatives for a $15 minimum wage and paid family and medical leave. During our electoral canvassing campaign, Presley designed and coordinated a volunteer coordinator system where nine dedicated members of the electoral working group mobilized 100 DSA members to canvass for our three candidates, all of whom won their races. She is now working on a canvassing campaign to build relationships with underserved communities, and a phonebanking initiative for Mass Against HP, a BDS campaign our chapter has endorsed. A member of the Libertarian Socialist Caucus, Presley has worked to make the Electoral Politics Working Group more transparent and to empower others in it to take on more responsibility, and she hopes to continue working towards those goals more broadly as a member of the Steering Committee. She enjoys karaoke and long walks through her neighborhood carrying a red clipboard.

VALERIE

Valerie’s primary interest is creating co-operative social spaces where individuals are freed from the constraints of forced economic relationships. Her experience is in largely three domains — hackerspaces, cooperative houses, and free software. As an undergraduate at Boston University, she co-founded a hackerspace. Hackerspaces (often called makerspaces) are physical spaces where people can share tools, knowledge, resources, and occasionally ducks (see pic). Since college she has lived only in co-operative housing projects, because we have more when we share and feel happier when we feed and are fed by housemates. Finally, she works on free and open source software. Free software projects consist of thousands of volunteers collaborating freely online. They create, for example, computer operating systems. They collaborate because they believe there is a moral imperative to share code, as it is “free” to copy and we all benefit from sharing (except the capitalist). All of these projects have democratic structures for decision making and cultural norms of thoughtful debate and mutual-aid. Participation in the projects can be a transformation experience after growing up in the impersonal, competitive capitalist world. Nonetheless, she came to socialist organizing because hackerspaces, cooperative houses and free computer programs will not free us from wage slavery or save the planet from environmental destruction. Only socialism will. In the DSA she works in the tech working group, and is excited to help when set up any information infrastructure that might be useful to the DSA going forward.

VAUGHN

Vaughn Allen Goodwin is a seasoned organizer in the area of diversity, healthcare and community, and has done organizing with 1199SEIU, NAACP, Democratic Socialists of America and Our Revolution. He completed his undergraduate at Morehouse College, a historically African-American College in Atlanta, GA which focuses on the education and rearing of Black Males. He also attended Temple University where he majored in African-American studies and was the founder of the Temple Progressive NAACP. Vaughn’s parents were also Organizers and likewise for his grandparents. He therefore brings four generations of organizing to bear. He also was recruited to Democratic Socialists of America by the Late Michael Harrington founder of DSA, Manning Marable, late African-American author and Malcolm X Scholar. During the past 3 decades Vaughn has been active developing leaders in the Homecare industry who are now full time organizers in organizations including Boston Teachers Union, 1199SEIU and Union throughout the country. He continues to organize in the areas that are populated largely by people of color including Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury where he has leaders. Nationally, he has worked with Rahel Biru and other members of the New York DSA to do New Members Orientation and spoken at events involving people of color. He has organized for National Union of Students in the United Kingdom and also organized as an Anti-Racism Officer in the United Kingdom. He continues to fight for a broad, wide, and strong left that can take on economic inequality and anti-union forces. Vaughn helped to win progressive victories in Virginia, Minnesota, California and throughout other localities in the US. Finally, Vaughn serves on both the Steering Committee and the Resolutions team where he helped to create a Resolutions process for concerns that members raise. Vaughn was also a part of a strategic inter-generational discussion that helped to build the growth of DSA from 2016 to present. Vaughn is also the 1199SEIU Representative to the Poor Peoples Campaign in the Commonwealth of Massachussetts.

Vaughn’s reason for continuing to serve on the Steering Committee is to help in diversifying and spreading the message and membership of DSA in communities of color including Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and Springfield, MA. Vaughn’s view of democratic socialism is where members participate in politics at the electoral and grassroots level to bring about victories locally and nationally that lead to a more fairer and equitable distribution of wealth and resources. This means that we must fight for 1) affordable and free tuition in schools, 2) empowering and creating unions that are progressive and democratic from the bottom-up, 3) single and universal healthcare for all, 3) reducing military spending and increasing spending for social programs.

Vaughn believes that there must be strong coalition and broad based building to make organizing happen at the grassroots and electoral level. Business wise, he believes in a “Solidarity economy” where workers are a part of a cooperative as co-owners while being a part of a bargaining unit and having powers that lead to social and economic justice.

Edit: Clyde Grubbs and Louise Parker have withdrawn their candidacies.

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