I am really stimulated and excited about all the political possibilities and potentials around me right now. Amid all the tragedy in the world, the deepening economic and social crises, the natural and man-made disasters...it feels good to have something to look forward to. I am going to put this messy mass of jumbled excited ideas out here so I can think through them/plan for them more clearly!!
1) Transformative Justice and Radical Mental Health training session
This happened just 2 nights ago, organized by a whole bunch of groups here in Seatown, hosting folks from the Icarus Project and Aorta collective. The training had 120 people attending, on a Tues night! I have lots of notes from this session and some processing to do. Hopefully this will happen here in the next few days/week!
2) Watching Live Nude Girls Unite!
Talk about the body as a commodity!! Talk about estranged labor!! Talk about the clash b/w exchange value, use value,the body, patriarchy, union solidarity, class struggle as a way to destroy patriarchy, sexuality, liberation, sex positivism etc...Thinking about my comrade's piece on sexuality, race, the body, and alienation...I am excited to think through these questions...They are a jumbled mess right now and I hope in the next few months I can clarify them!
3) Vision, Brainstorms for organizing!
I feel like I am working toward a concrete vision for myself...beginning to be able to lay out some concrete goals and clarifying what kind of attitude to have toward my workplace organizing. I dont know why it's been so hard and so confusing!! I am just thankful that I am sorting this out now...working toward something!
I have been thinking alot about priorities, my limited time and mental capacity post-work and post-school...and what I should prioritize in terms of political work. I think I have come to terms acknowledging the kind of person I am -- I just cannot buckle down and read theory/history without feeling like I am doing some concrete political work, no matter how small/minimal, that doesnt have a clear sense of direction. I also cannot do political work only and not leave time for myself to read. I need time both for reading and political work otherwise I just become super sad and directionless.
Last night, I went for the IWW meeting and got really inspired talking w folks there, thinking through models of organizing! I also hung out w my coworkers today -- ate hella Ethiopian food (yummy!!!), drank hella Ethiopian coffee (so much better than Starbucks!!), chilled w my coworker's son (my high school Math is being put to use to help him w his homework!!)...and I just felt really excited and happy!
Here's some thoughts:
- Finish up the 2nd issue of the newsletter I am working on.
I have been stressing about this cos I keep working on drafts and then giving up on them cos they dont seem good enough...or that my coworkers might not be engaged. But really, if I think about putting out the newsletter as a trial and error, and as much a method to agitate my coworkers as it is a practice for myself to write in a way that integrates the Marxist theory into writings about everyday workplace experience that could possibly resonate with my coworkers, and a way to think through what are the elements that can make up an agitational, Marxist-influenced workplace newsletter, then it is worth it! Especially since it is supposed to be short anyways and I already have 1 page down!!
- I am really nervous about one-on-ones! I have tried doing them twice and they havent worked out too well
:( I realize I dont know how to talk about solidarity unionism, or do the A E I O U in a way that doesnt freak people out, or becoming a bitch-about-the-job session! I keep defaulting in conversations, to my instinctual method of talking politics, which I think is not suitable for union-organizing. I keep thinking I need to be perfect on this...before I start doing it. But really, it's once again, a trial and error and I need to just jump in and reflect the hell out of what I am doing to learn from it!
- I am also trying to do contact work w my coworkers. I guess there are 2 dimensions to this. One is to keep social contact -- which is increasingly happening and really important for me to do because it helps me keep contacts who could later be nucleus of workplace committees or industry wide networks if people change jobs; Another dimension is to do revolutionary contact work -- to begin to read texts one-on-one with coworkers. Trying to do it with one coworker now. We'll see where it goes!! But bringing my coworkers into any future projects I do, apart from unionization, is so key!!
- 2 ideas!
a) Flyering outside CNAs schools in the Seattle area for "How do you survive your first 100 days as a CNA?: A workshop BY and FOR CNAs"
All these CNA schools give this rosy picture of being CNAs and most new CNAs are shocked and in disbelief for the first 3 months when they start on the job.
Many CNAs already get the briefing/networking done from their immigrant community contacts, so such a workshop should include info that many older, more experienced CNAs do not know about! Like, Know Your Rights stuff...
I hope to be able to collaborate with some coworkers on this -- which would mean the social/contact work piece needs to be done well! and hopefully meet more people in the industry this way
b) An ESL class that integrates role play on how to talk back to the boss on the job, as well as revolutionary texts, articles etc etc
At my workplace, immigrant women without kids have a sense that they can and will take classes, finish prereqs and get out of the CNA workforce. Those with kids who are in their 30s or older, have a sense that for financial or familial reasons they cannot afford to take classes, or climb their way out of being CNAs.
It is the latter group in particular I hope to target: free ESL classes that integrate role plays about how folks can talk back to bosses. That integrate peoples' knowledge on how bosses use English and fake laws to intimidate workers and how to respond. Included in this could be popularizing a demand for workers who dont speak/understand English to be able to get a representative, some sort of Weingarden rights deal. Also, this can be a way to popularize revolutionary ideas in a way that supports immigrant workers in a particular industry.
I hope to bring together a team that can do weekly classes.
I really hope that the social/contact work piece is a realistic first step for me to work toward realizing these 2 ideas/goals...
We'll see where these take us.
For now, I am just a little hyper!