Our Committee-palooza! at the beginning of the year was a very productive evening. Members split up into break-out sessions for each of our standing committees, defined at least two near-term goals, and outlined specific action steps to take for each.
The basic goal of Grand Street Democrats is straightforward: support (and create where necessary) an infrastructure of local activists that can raise issues, amplify local voices, and pressure officials for change. The strength of that infrastructure will come from fully engaged members with a real sense of ownership for our shared goals. So active committee participation is essential to bringing about the change we want.
Here’s what we’ll be working on right away:
Policy and Social Action (PSAC)
- Traffic & congestion pricing. We’ve started this effort with our Traffic Town Hall, but this challenge is not going away and the solutions are not obvious or easy to implement. We will continue to pressure our local elected officials and the Department of Transportation to send Williamsburg Bridge traffic to more appropriate avenues.
- Judicial elections. One of the important roles local Democratic clubs play in our civic structure is to nominate judicial delegates and help select our judges. This process happens largely without voters’ active participation, so it’s our job to be engaged in these decisions.
- Communication with elected officials. We want to make sure our elected officials have ample opportunity to address local residents directly — and vice versa. We’re starting with an Albany Report on February 8 with our two state representatives, Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou and State Senator Brian Kavanagh.
- Partnership with Sister District. Ours is a Democratic stronghold, unlikely to elect a Republican in the foreseeable future. So if we want to turn our energy to addressing progressive change across the country, Sister District is a national organization that could be a perfect partner. We hope to help elect progressive Democrats in other parts of the country who can really turn the tide in the U.S. Congress.
- Youth vote initiative. When young people vote, more Democrats are elected. By creating a video campaign and partnering with other organizations focused on educating and registering young people, we can contribute to a generational shift that will make this country more progressive.
Civics and Education
- Civics trivia and guide to local politics. By helping more of our neighbors learn the ins and outs of local government, we can support a more active political community. We’ll start on March 5 with a Pub Night + Trivia at Lucky Jack’s on Orchard, then bring trivia games to other events around the neighborhood.
- Register more Democrats. You may think of yourself as an independent, but if you are not registered as a Democrat in this neighborhood you don’t get to vote in primaries — which means, essentially, your vote is not going to count. To keep residents engaged, we believe everyone should register as a Democrat.
- Historic preservation. Our neighborhood has a deep heritage that speaks not only to the history of our city but the history of our country — yet there is no historic neighborhood defined in the Lower East Side to preserve and celebrate that heritage. Working with LESPI and the City Council, we will seek to get historic acknowledgement for some of the tenement blocks in the neighborhood before it all disappears.
- Zoning and development. This neighborhood is at the beginning of a major period of development. While recognizing that new development can be an improvement to the area, we will advocate for appropriate zoning to make sure that the special character of this neighborhood is not lost.
- Neighborhood beautification. By partnering with our local parks and finding new ways to keep our streets looking sharp and fresh, we hope to keep this neighborhood livable and vital.
- Partner with other neighborhood groups. Our specific district (AD 65 Part A) is narrowly drawn, but the issues we care about are shared by our diverse community. We want to make sure we are reaching out beyond any one affinity group to bring a broad coalition of progressives together.
- Partner with local businesses. We want to promote and support local businesses, and ask them to promote and support us — political goals like safer streets and better traffic management affects us all.
- Women’s March 2018. We put together a strong local contingent for the Women’s March this year, and will look for similar opportunities.
- Trivia Night March 5. We’ll be holding a night out at Lucky Jack’s, featuring CivEd trivia.
- Partner with parks. June 6 is Family Fun Day at Corlears Park, and GSD will be preparing some games and educational material.
We expect all members to join at least one committee and participate actively in its projects — or bring your own idea and start a new project. We’re in it for the long haul, and hope you are too!