A few days ago I was writing about my role as treasurer and business manager of the Glide Memorial Foundation. The foundation owned an office building with several large rooms including a dining hall a multimedia room and a large general purpose meeting room.
For the previous ten years, before arriving at Glide, I had formed and operated many activist organizations. I always had a terrible problem finding a place for groups to meet. Schools and parks had such unwieldy demands for insurance and clean-up deposits that is was rarely possible. Hotels and conference centers were usually booked far in advance and only nice to conventional activities. Usually expensive with requirements for deposits and expensive clean-ups.
There were a few churches with open space but always biased toward their own interests.
My groups were political, sexual and revolutionary (at the time) including feminism, environmentalism, international provocation and planning for demonstrations.
My first act as business manager at Glide was to open all our available meeting rooms to everyone at a low price. No judgments. No harassment. Everyone.
Two consequences. Most of the important political movements that got started in San Francisco did so in the open spaces I made available, ranging from Native American and prison reform movements to land use and environmental organizing.
I learned that the various traditional Lefty groups: Trotsky, Socialist Workers and Workers Solidarity were flakes who never paid their bills and never cleaned up after themselves.
Open non-judgmental meeting spaces are vital for political vitality.