Ever wondered what a queer punk anti-racist fundraiser might look like?
Below the fold, an email from folks in Chicago who put their heads together, so to speak, to support the Day of Expungement in New Orleans. Co-sponsored by Safe Streets/Strong Communities, Critical Resistance, and the Orleans Public Defenders, Expungement Day was part of an ongoing movement to counter the racist criminal justice system and help communities flourish.
Recently I’ve been re-reading Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals (using it to analyze Bram Stoker’s Dracula for my English class — good times), and I’ve gotta say, despite the flaws in his philosophy, the book is beautifully written, and there are some real gems in there. The creativity and good humor of this Chicago fundraiser exemplify the spirit of his sixth rule of power tactics: “A good tactic is one that your people enjoy. If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic” (128). An important sentiment to keep in mind, I think, especially when student organizing so often reverts to the same old speak-outs and die-ins, marches and petitions. I mean, Alinsky and his crew once bought up all the tickets to an enemy-owned symphony, hosted a potluck feast of baked beans beforehand, and then farted their way through the whole concert. Now that’s a tactic.
Anyhow, read, enjoy, and see y’all next week!
Just dropping a line to let you know that the fundraiser in Chicago for the Day of Expungement was last weekend and it was a smashing success! We raised $1000 at the party and raised another $1000 through a matching donation.
Lydia asked me to write a little more about the process of planning so that the work goes on record and we can share some strategies as this was a really successful event. If folks in other cities ever want to talk strategies for this kind of thing, I have done lots of these kinds of events at low costs and with varying success and enjoy discussing it.
Here’s how the Big Gay Beauty Parlor effort happened:
I discussed Day of Expungement initially with two fab friends: a lawyer and a bartender. They were excited for the cause of expungements in NOLA and the cause of party-throwing. The three of us determined our theme of “Big Gay Beauty Parlor”–the party theme included haircuts, massages, manicures, hairstyling and facial hair application in the door charge, as well as a cash bar and DJs. Then, we recruited a bunch of friends to volunteer to provide these services at the party–probably about 12 people total including bartenders, hosts etc. Recruiting volunteers from different social circles is a great tactic for bringing in more people.
We held the party at a friend’s house (another social circle) close to transit and charged $5-15 at the door, no one turned away. It was a HUGE mess (hair everywhere) but it was awesome: about 80 people attended, people were very generous at the door, massages and haircuts were given all night…
Beforehand we reached out to Critical Resistance and Tamms Year Ten, two of the organizations doing radical prison/criminal justice related work in Chicago . They were very supportive and had their materials at the event as well as spreading the word to people involved in their campaigns.
I also reached out to a few individuals to let them know that I was throwing this party with a goal of raising $1000 and asking whether they could contribute anything to that goal ahead of time. Out of that came the offer to match the donation–that sure doesn’t happen every day but I’m really glad I asked…
That’s it in a nutshell. Folks here were really, really pumped about supporting NOLA in this way and I am really grateful to the ARWG for helping keep me/us connected and active up here!