Youve gotta walk the walk

CHICAGO — It’s one thing to talk about all the things we should be doing with the People’s Weekly World; it’s another thing to put our words into practice, to “walk the walk.”

This was the challenge facing our Communist Party club on the city’s north side when we gathered for our annual planning conference in early 2006. After taking stock of the previous year’s accomplishments, we pledged to substantially increase the distribution of the PWW, get more subscriptions and recruit more members to our party.

Because of the enthusiasm of our nine active club members, combined with the support of our Illinois district leadership, we’ve gone from distributing two bundles of the paper per week a year ago to seven and a half bundles per week today.

We now have three newspaper boxes containing about 100 papers each that we maintain every week in our area of concentration, which encompasses two working-class, predominantly Spanish-speaking communities. The communities include a growing number of African Americans.

Almost every member of our club has found a way to promote the paper.

For example: With the exception of the period immediately prior to the 2006 elections, two of us — Sijisfredo Aviles and myself — have passed out 100 papers every Saturday at a local branch of a credit union and at a nearby neighborhood post office.

Sijisfredo says, “People expect us to be there. My motivation is to have a presence in the community so that the people in our neighborhood have access to information that they wouldn’t get in the standard news media, especially information concerning the labor movement and the workers’ and people’s movements.

“We have to talk to people in order to build working-class consciousness,” he continues. “The paper is one way to develop people’s consciousness.”

We’ve found that bringing relevant petitions and leaflets to our distribution sites has heightened the prestige of our paper. Over the last several years, we have circulated petitions to end the war in Iraq, save Social Security, promote national health care, or pass the Employee Free Choice Act, while passing out the paper. We have also distributed meeting and event notices from our local antiwar group, Logan Square Neighbors for Justice and Peace.

By seeing us do this, passers-by start identifying our paper with important issues affecting their lives, even if they don’t always read the PWW. Once they become used to us and what we represent, they more willingly take the paper and other literature, including Communist Party literature, and are also more willing to give us their personal contact information. In the course of the past year we have compiled a list of about 53 names for our mailing list.

During these distributions we have engaged in all kinds of interesting conversations. Once, while I was passing out the paper at the post office, one person told me that he was very happy that the Communist Party still existed, and he gave me a $1 donation. Another person I spoke with was an African American woman who belonged to a large union. I placed her name on the mailing list and she attended our annual citywide PWW banquet.

During our last fund drive for the paper, we brought a plastic bucket to the sites and we got anywhere from $1 to $35 each time we asked for donations. One restaurant owner donated $60 one year and $20 the next. The bottom line: “Ask and you shall receive.”

Sijisfredo routinely brings the papers to his workplace, as well. He recently got one of his co-workers — someone whom we see almost every week at the post office, too — to take out a subscription.

We’ve run into several people who said they would like to help us but, except for sending them mailings, including our occasional club newsletter, we haven’t really followed through with these contacts on a one-to-one basis. So there is still work to do.

Just imagine what we could accomplish — including winning new readers and new members of the Communist Party — if more people were actively involved in building our great paper.

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