On this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, Heather interviews another amazing comrade, Mason Bliss. Mason discusses their strategy on mass working class organization and the work they are doing through the group “For The People”. They discuss the under-served and under-represented community that is Atlantic City, and their plans to build dual power to amplify the power and voice of the residents. Finally they discuss how people can get involved to help and to learn about the needs of this community.
For The People
Mason and Heather came out of The Green Party of Atlantic County Together. Socialist organizing isn’t easy in South Jersey. Heather and Mason have faced many challenges together. Mason joins the show to discuss their new organization “For The People”. For The People is an organization that provides for the material needs of low income workers and their families. FTP also organizes them to create real change in their own communities.
Workers must focus all their energy just to make it from paycheck to paycheck. This leaves them little to any time left over to improve their conditions. This prevents them from developing political power for themselves. That’s why FTP seeks to provide them the things they need to allow them to organize for a better life.
For The People is collecting food, clothing, and hygiene items for distribution. They hope to expand their offering to include education, medical care, and other needs. So many people feel hopeless in this world today. That is why vehicles for change like FTP are so crucial.
Community Organizing From The Community
This organization goes into the communities and asks them what their problems are. The people know the problems and they know what solutions they need. Outsiders can not come in with a top down approach. Real change must come from the people. In their work in Atlantic City, they hear often how casinos have all the power and the residents feel powerless. So that is what needs to change.
FTP began their work in the Atlantic City area, not only because of proximity. But also, because when they held events there they saw need of basic living items the residents lacked. Atlantic City is an extremely impoverished city, that literally rests in the shadows of the opulent wealth of the casinos. The casinos serve as monuments to wealth while those a block over can’t afford their heat. Atlantic City is still suffering under the state takeover. Residents have the voice of their elected representatives stripped from them.
Atlantic City and Puerto Rico
Mason draws an interesting parallel between Atlantic City and Puerto Rico. Both are communities strapped with debt outside their control. They have no representative power. There is a similar feeling among residents that the city or country wants to force them out to turn their community into a playground for the wealthy. Gentrification in areas around the inlet will just further force the citizens out.
For The People hosts community barbecues and feeds hundred of people. They have group discussions about the issues of the community and help amply the voices of those already leading the community. This is not a charity organization , but a local power development organization. FTP works closely with Food Not Bombs and the IWW. You can check out an interview with Food Not Bombs here.
Its time to take power away from the capitalist class and put it in the hand of the people.