(Now a Word from Our Sponsor)

The 2016 Eugene V. Debs – Norman Thomas – Michael Harrington Dinner will be Friday evening, May 20, at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro, Madison and Halsted on Chicago’s near west side. It is, as always, a union hotel. You are invited, requested, beseeched to participate. We have a great program lined up; you’ll love it.

The theme for this year’s event is Rauner’s Road to Perdition. If Governor Rauner prevails, our state is on its way to utter ruin. The alternative is the utter ruin of Rauner’s reactionary “Turn Around Agenda.” All roads lead to perdition for someone. It’s either them or it’s us.

Our keynote speaker will do justice to this topic: Alderwoman of the 10th Ward, Susan Sadlowski Garza. The first Chicago Teachers Union member elected to the City Council, she is also the first woman to represent Chicago’s 10th Ward. Described by the Chicago Sun-Times as “tough-as-nails,” she is Bernie Sander’s political revolution come to Chicago’s “gritty” southeast side.

Our honorees fit this mold too.

Many of you will know Jorge Mújica as the 2015 socialist candidate for Alderman of the 25th Ward who Chicago DSA endorsed and supported. He was then and is now the Strategic Campaigns Organizer for the Chicago Arise worker center. But Mújica has done so much more. In addition to being an organizer for worker centers, he has been an organizer for traditional labor unions. He has been a journalist for both print and broadcast media. Mújica was one of the three conveners of the historic 2006 immigrant rights march in Chicago that brought a million people out on the streets of Chicago. One is tempted to call him a renaissance activist.

Michael Lighty is the Public Policy Director for California Nurses Association / National Nurses United. In that position, he has been an effective advocate for a national “single-payer” health plan, for a “Robin Hood Tax” on financial transactions, for limiting the role of money in politics, and for lesbian and gay equality. Did we mention the Bernie Sanders campaign? It shouldn’t be a surprise that Lighty also served as DSA’s National Director, 1990 to 1993. Michael Lighty is the Board Secretary of the Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center and, somewhat more prosaically, Lighty has served on the Port of Oakland Commission and on the Oakland Planning Commission.

Please plan to attend this remarkable event. Tickets must be ordered by Tuesday, May 17th. You can order them online or by mail using this printable (PDF) form.

The favor of your reply is requested.


Good Jobs, Clean Jobs, and Nuclear Energy in Illinois

Recorded 04.25.2016 – Tom Broderick interviews David Kraft, director and a founder of the Nuclear Energy Information Service. Kraft discusses the state of the nuclear energy industry in Illinois and the ongoing efforts by various interests to pass their own versions of a “Clean Jobs” bill. This legislation would create thousands of jobs by increasing energy efficiency, developing renewable energy sources, and meeting or exceeding EPA carbon emission standards.

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David A. Kraft is a 64 year old resident of Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in the Chicago area, and graduated from Lane Technical High School. As an undergraduate he attended Northwestern University in Evanston, and Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, where he majored in astronomy and psychology respectively. He attended the Industrial Areas Foundation’s Alinsky Institute for Social Change.

Mr. Kraft worked as a social rehabilitation worker and clinical therapist in the Uptown area of Chicago for nearly 12 years. With seven other environmental activists, he founded the Nuclear Energy Information Service — NEIS — in 1981 to provide the public with reliable information about nuclear power and radiation hazards, and energy alternatives to nuclear power. He is currently the director of the organization.

For More Information

Nuclear Energy Information Service

Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition

Episode 62 — Syria’s Great Migration

Recorded March 12, 2016. Syria’s civil war has displaced an enormous percentage of its population, either internally or to an external diaspora. DSA’s Tom Broderick interviews Suzanne Akhras Sahloul, founder and Executive Director of the Syrian Community Network, about the dimensions of the problem and about the work of the Syrian Community Network: welcoming Syrian refugees to Chicago and helping them make sense of a new culture.

Suzanne Akhras Sahloul
Suzanne Akhras Sahloul

Suzanne Akhras Sahloul is the founder and Executive Director of the Syrian Community Network, a community based refugee support network. The  Syrian Community Network based in Chicago promotes the spirit of community, family and Syrian culture. Suzanne is also the founder of the Syrian American Medical Society’s Midwest Foundation serving as its President from 2004-2006 and as SAMS National Foundation President from 2005-2007. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Lewis University. Suzanne is currently pursuing a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership at the Kellogg School of Management. Additionally, Suzanne has also served as PTA President and as a board member at her children’s school. Suzanne is married to Dr. Zaher Sahloul and they are the proud parents of three children.

Episode 61 — The Rauner Agenda

Recorded February 6, 2016. Bunnie Johnson (Shop Steward and Executive Board member for AFSCME Local 2858, and a caseworker for the Illinois Department of Human Services) and Fran Tobin (Coordinator, Alliance for Community Services) in conversation with Chicago DSA’s Bob Roman. What happens when the State pretends there is no money? What happens to Human Services when the government is run “like a business”? Welcome to the new barbarity.

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Episode 61
(LtoR) Fran Tobin, Bob Roman, Bunnie Johnson. Photo: Fran Tobin

Episode 60 — The Great Stagnation

Recorded January 9, 2016. Ron Baiman and Bill Barclay, members of the Chicago Political Economy Group, review the political economy of 2015 and speculate on 2016.

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More Information

Episode 59 — Reproductive Justice

Recorded December 12, 2015. Peg Strobel interviews three activists from the Chicago Abortion Fund (CAF): Brittany Mostiller-Keith, the Fund’s Executive Director, and CAF board members Lindsay Budzinski and Sekile Nzinga-Johnson. They discuss the history of the CAF, how it operates, and most especially the concept of Reproductive Justice, including ongoing efforts to repeal the notorious “Hyde Amendment” that prohibits any Federal funding of abortion. The proposed legislation, sponsored by Representative Barbara Lee of California, would insure abortion coverage under Medicaid and other insurance programs.

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For More Information:

Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act of 2015 (search for HR 2972 at the Library of Congress)

National Network of Abortion Funds

Chicago Abortion Fund

Reproductive Rights and Women’s Health

Repeal Hyde Art Project (The graphics above are the work of Megan J. Smith. You can see — and buy — more of her work at the project.)

Episode 58 — Norvelt: Hope Only in Hard Times?

Recorded November 21, 2015. It is ironic that today planned communities are private affairs, such as gated communities for the fearful well-to-do or age-segregated retirement resorts for get-off-my-lawn geezers or even large scale condominium developments. But in the 1930s, the New Deal had ambitions to build nearly 100 new towns that were intended to relieve destitute poverty and slavish conditions of industrial employment. Influenced by the British garden city advocate Ebenezer Howard (who in turn was greatly influenced by Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, a work that in turn had helped inspire Eugene V. Debs and the socialist movement here in the States) and by the ideal of Jeffersonian agrarian independence, these communities were intended to provide all the means of livelihood without the residents having to commute elsewhere. Not everyone in these towns might be self-employed, but economic depressions and recessions and capitalist greed would be cushioned by backyard agriculture and cooperative community enterprises. Thus these new towns were called “Subsistence Homesteads”.

One of the more successful examples of a subsistence homestead was Norvelt, Pennsylvania. Originally named Westmoreland Homesteads when ground was broken in 1934, the residents renamed the settlement in 1937 on the occasion of a visit by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, combining the last syllables of her name. As a relief measure, these settlements were an outstanding success. The residents knew it. They appreciated it. They voted for it. Fast forward to the 21st Century, and Norvelt has become deeply conservative, Republican territory, a politics that would not ever consider, never mind tolerate, a government program like subsistence homesteads. What happened?

This episode of Talkin’ Socialism examines Norvelt and the subsistence homestead program through the lens of this question. It features Peg Strobel in conversation with Margaret Power, co-author with Timothy Kelly and Michael Cary, of Hope in Hard Times: Norvelt and the Struggle for Community During the Great Depression, wherein this still-unfolding story of transformation is examined. In this episode, Margaret Power explains how her own personal history intersects with the history of Norvelt and offers some of her ideas about the changing politics of the area.

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