The weather is perfect right now. Spring. Not the spring that comes after a long winter but the one that comes before a long summer. In a month or two it will be too humid to wear jeans. After a few weeks I will dress only to anticipate stickiness and overly air conditioned spaces. But now, the sun is warm, the shade is cool, the breeze still offers relief and the nights are magic. This is the time of year in South Louisiana that I get most excited, most restless. The things I thought I should do no longer were working, the endless work was making me tired and irritable so I took to the road, with snacks and water, a camera and binoculars. I have a few projects coming up that I not realize I was working on as I drove slowly with the windows down, turning down side roads and stopping to take notes. Halfway through the day I realized that is exactly what I am doing. Here is a piece of what will come later.
note: above is the first response I received for Keep Writing number 96, from Andy, who I solicited to respond so I could use it in a video about the process of making these postcards. look for it here soon!
Recently, friends had been sharing a photo on social media with a caption that didn't sit right with me. The news itself was upsetting, but the caption seemed inaccurate from other sources. I wanted to say more about it and to share it because it is an important story. But I also wanted to be accurate. There are so many outright lies and inaccuracies and this one was a simple fix. I read the story the photo was linked to, and 2 others that corroborated the information. I shared a different photo, with a slightly different caption. The mistake was small and did not take away from the impact of the information and I did not want to point our the inaccuracy to my friends because I was embarrassed to be that exact.
But we could use more exactitude in our information.
And a little more skepticism in the news we receive. We hear talk about disagreeable information as being "fake news," but it is not just the president who wants the news to reflect what he already believes. We can do it too sometimes, find the news that confirms what we believe But a larger perspective gives context so I have been trying to listen to a few different news sources.
This month I have been asking you to tell me from where you have been getting your news and why. Now I am sharing it with you. I was going to provide comments on each source but I will let you decide which sources are useful to you. I like facts, smart analysis, and a little humor. Not all of these sources are 100% awesome 100% of the time, but combined they help keep me informed.
and I will keep it updated as y'all send me yours!
My friend Bear gives great introductions. Whenever I meet one of their friends, they introduce me with bits of what I do now, a little bit of where I live and have lived--so much more than my name and relationship to Bear but a briefing about why maybe we should get to know each other. For a variety of reasons, it was once difficult for me to be open to meeting new people. Bear knows that and gives us a chance and a reason to be more open, more willing.
Bear also used to have a business card with their name on the front and, on the back, a list of all the jobs they were willing and able to take on. We all have a variety of identities. Sometimes we favor one roll over another. Or we quiet part of our identity at work, with our families, in public. Sometimes because we are afraid, or feel unsafe. There are real threats to queer, trans, black, brown, muslim people in this country. Some of us may never feel that. Or we can hide those parts of ourselves that would make us feel vulnerable and pass as white, straight, Christian. The challenge for those of us who want to support communities that are threatened, is that it is easier to not say anything--being a witness, engaging with people who look like us about people who don't, in a caring productive way takes patience, and a willingness to be vulnerable and open. We can feel like we don't know enough or that we should let someone else speak. I think, in light of the urgency of the times, that time has passed. We must engage.
One way to start is to let our differences show. To share different opinions. To listen. I look like a straight white lady who makes greeting cards. I am not straight--I do have a long-term male partner but he is not the only kind of person I can love.* I never came out because I didn't have to. Because I didn't really tell my parents a lot of things. Because I come from the privileged position of it not really affecting my job, my housing, my public life. I've never wanted to marry. I still cried when the Supreme Court made marriage legal for non-heterosexual couples.** But my trans friends still struggle. And are attacked, killed, harrassed.
I lived in Seattle during the WTO protests, on 9/11 and I remember the protests during the invasion of Iraq. Whatever you think about conservatism and liberalism, tea party or anarchist, what is happening right now is different. It feels different. The fear is real. The struggle is real. My dad tried to tell me once that everything was better before people started making a big deal out of things. I think he was trying to tell me that everything was better before people started fighting for equal rights, to be treated with the same respect and protection as any other person. But I turned it, and asked him if he meant that everything was better before people started making a big deal out of people demanding equal rights. That the backlash to the North Carolina bathroom law isn't about special treatment. It is about being seen as human, as the same.
The political atmosphere feels different and while I want to keep making postcards that help people stay in touch, I want to facilitate dialog too. If you are a new subscriber, welcome. There is some basic information about this project here. I usually keep my beliefs a little more subdued, but I think this is important. So, know that when you buy from me it may indirectly (or directly) support equal rights, protection and health for all people--immigrant, lgbtq, latinx, black, brown, muslim, women and any combination of. My introduction, is hello, my name is Hope. I am a queer white woman working towards dismantling racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia in myself, in my community, and beyond. I make mistakes. I am always learning. I will not be silent.***
*to be honest, a friend once described my sexuality as "boy crazy" and that seemed most accurate for my late 20's so I understand why I am seen as straight. plus my 8 year monogamous relationship
**Bear and I also cried on election night 2008 ..."It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states..."
***I can't say most of this out loud without crying. I am not sure why. It makes discussion difficult. But I am working on it.
For the first 100 days of the 45th Presidency, I am donating all money raised from selling subscriptions to the Keep Writing Project. In January, I donated $802 to the New Orleans Abortion Fund. Through the end of March, I am raising money for Youth BreakOUT, an organization that empowers queer and trans youth in New Orleans. So far I have raised over $300. If you want to subscribe, renew or give a subscription to a friend as a gift, you can sign up here. Feel free to contact me with questions.
The end of 2017 was dark for many of us. Deaths of icons of our youth, fear of the upcoming presidency and his policies, internet arguments, hate crimes and holidays made more tense with difficult conversation, avoidance and the anniversary of freinds' and family deaths.
For the beginning of this year, I wanted to remind us that the days are getting longer, that there is more light, that it is part of a cycle. That doesn't mean there isn't a lot of work to do, but I wanted to look forward towards something, to find the thing that gives us hope and inspiration in the dark. If I had made this a tear away card and asked for your response, maybe I would maybe ask what is the thing that inspires you, what is your light? Or maybe I would ask what you have learned in the dark, because this is necessary too--the sadness, the hurt, the quiet time. Hibernation is a time to reflect and renew.
In the end I decided not to ask anything from you this month. I gave us all a few more weeks to catch up, to take the lessons we have learned from our darkest days of winter, and apply them to move into the light. There is so much to so.
***If you want to subscribe to the Keep Writing project, or sign up a friend, 100% of sales of subscriptions will be donated for the first 100 days of the new presidency. Read more here. Subscribe here or pay-what-you-can via paypal: email@example.com
My dad was visiting me in New Orleans during the inauguration and I missed all the marches. I was walking in the swamp trying to identify birds, or drinking coffee, trying not to read the news. I thought of the things that are most important to me and how I can use that to participate.
I offered pay-what-you-can subscriptions for inauguration day, and offered to donate 100% to the New Orleans Abortion Fund . I was hoping to raise maybe a few hundred dollars. We raised $800. I love sending postcards and I am happy to have new subscribers who are excited about participating. It is a small way to give back and it helps me to stay motivated and I think it is part of keeping the momentum of the movement. Whatever you think or however you voted, the next 4 years will be a marathon, not a sprint, and we have to find a way to balance the need to acknowledge what is said and done by the president, and not over or under react. And between tweets and attacks, there is proposed legislation cutting funding for people and groups who need it most.
This is only a small part.
The first 100 days ends June 9th and I will continue to donate all sales from Keep Writing subscriptions. For the rest of January and all of February, I will donate to BreakOUT!, dedicated to ending the criminalization of lgbtq youth in New Orleans. You can subscribe a friend, you can add on to your subscription. You can sign up a family member. This is what I have. Letterpress printed words to share, a dedication to communication and a willingness to share resources. Keep loving, keep fighting.
I have been proud of printmakers, reclaiming our history of those who spread news for the people. Power and Light Press took it one further and offered these tote bags, originally for the women's march but so many orders were placed they had to set back shipping times--100% of the proceedss are going to planned parenthoodd. The sale of this tote (still available!) has raised more than $50,000. yahoo!
This past year was difficult for many. Though I personally had a pretty good year, there was lots of distressing news that affected my friends and family. There were events too that were upsetting for a larger sense of humanity, worldwide and here in the US. The fallout of the presidential election and what it has exposed in the US will be be a continuous struggle in the coming year. If you have been in the fight for social justice, you have seen this coming. If this is all new to you, there is much we can do.
This past year was also a year of change and growth and love and community. For today I offer this--my top ten moments of 2016. Because in knowing there was loss there was also wonder. Neither cancels the other.
1. Moving Back to New Orleans
Driving to Andy's sister's house to pick up the keys, we rolled down the windows to hear the cicadas. At our new apartment, three of our friends--John G., Misha and Emily helped unload the truck in the late summer heat. It was the best welcome back I could hope for. Even if I immediately got sick in the following days.
2. My first trip to Yosemite
As we decided to leave Oakland, we planned our last few weeks there, doing the things we had wanted to. So, the day after our moving away party, we woke up early and drove to Yosemite. Brooks didn't even know what to expect so the moments we stood in the park, in the valley surrounded by giant rocks, away from the crowds, unable, any of us, to do more than look and breathe, was better than any postcard could have warned us.
3. Creative protest
Seeing photos of friends at the Trump Rally in Louisiana, dressed to look like supporters but then acting as a barrier between black anti-Trump activists and security, was the most inspirational small gesture I had seen. in public. As we get older, I am grateful for the friends who are still fighting in all the ways we know how--this time using the advantage of blending in to aid others who can't.
4. River Swimming
Another adventure before we left California, Andy and I drove with Amy and Matt to a quiet river spot near Sacrmento. The water was cold but I decided river swimming is my new favorite--floating on my back, sounds muffled, bright sky, plus friends and sandwhiches and few others.
5. Loretta Lynch responding to NC "bathroom" law
"We see you. We stand with you. We will do everything we can to protect you."
I don't put too much faith into the words of government officials, but having the Attorney General speak directly to the trans community was encouraging.
6. Finding strength I didn't know I had
My body and I are still navigating our relationship. In an inversions workshop last spring, I discovered that the frequent plank poses have made it possible for me to lift my legs over my head while inverted. Not frequently, but I know I can.
7. Being Surprised by a Giraffe
The day after Christmas a friend offered us free passes to the zoo. I have mixed feelings about the zoo, and I usually find them too sad. But after both Andy and I were startled by this amazing animal walking towards us I was grateful for the constant reminder to be amazed at what nature has created.
When The Southern Letterpress sent an email to a bunch of letterpress printers a few days after the election asking us to use the tools we had to protest, it was exatly what I needed. Yes, the first draft of this was "FUCK YOU RACIST AMERICA happy holidays" but printing this with others in the shop at Bakerville and exchanging prints with Blackbird Letterpress and FItzgerald Letterpress, I am reminded of the best part of letterpress printing--making lots of something and sharing it.
9. Rejoining Blackbird Letterpress
Still the best job I've ever had. Generous, supportive, interesting and engaged co-workers and a friend for a boss. I am grateful to work for myself most days, but my 2 days a week in Baton Rouge are inspiring.
Have I ever told you how grumpy I am? This guy probably hasn't. He also stood on the top of a dangerously windy hill to watch a sunset through the clouds, packed and unpacked a moving truck full of stuff that was mostly mine, made 100 cups of tea, gone for many walks in the middle of the day, and listened to the catchy song stuck in my head a whole lotta times. All this year. Never mind that he long ago accepted that I don't sit down much and I have a lot of ideas in the morning. If he didn't keep cooking vegetables twice a day, I would subside on ice cream and good intentions. Thanks, Andy.
Should I have been surprised? Maybe not. But I was. I too felt the dissappointment and outrage of what so many people had voted for. In response, and as a part of the FREEDOM OF THE PRESS event organized by The Southern Letterpress, I set the type for this month's postcard. I won't lie, this is a toned down more articulate version of my first idea, which involved more cursing. So, along with the postcard, I offer this list of ways to get down to business and keep on with the good works. There is much to do.
It might sound alarmist to suggest that agencies that aid those who need it are under scrunity. But it is foolish to think none of the proposals made by the president elect and his team will pass. Remember when it was mereely hilarious and goofy when he was running for president and we never though he would win. Immigrants, Muslims, women, Black people, brown people, trans*, queer, poor, people with disabilities, have all been attacked verbally by the president elect. If you are in a position to help, now is the time not only say you are an ally but to fight like an ally.
This list has been compiled by myself, inspired by others and is growing and changing as necessary.
It was complied as a companion to Keep Writing number 93, a postcard project that usually includes a postcard and prompt to send back, This month I am asking subscribers to take at least one step listed below.
- If you are in the position to do so, find a cause you support and send 'em your money. Are you angry about the proposal to defund Planned Parenthood? Donate your holiday gift checks from Grandma. Donate in the name of Mike Pence. Donate in lieu of gifts. Hold a bake sale or a benefit show or a speakeasy night and send all the proceeds to your favorite organization. Set a small recurring monthly donation.
- If you have time, consider volunteering. Escort women to the abortion clinic. Flyer, share information, answer the phones, encourage monetary donations from others.
need ideas on places to donate to? here is a few:
- Planned Parenthood provides reproductive and sexual health care to those can't afford insurance.
- BREAKOUT! fights the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in Louisiana
- SURJ Showing Up for Racial Justice is a group of white people educating and inspiring other while people to stand against racism. If you donate to them, they also suggest that you donate to another group that is led by non-whites--they even give you a list of organizations they like.
- SONG Southerners on New Ground is an intersectional group of queer, trans, non-white, immigrant, undocumented,people in the rural south.
- Trans Lifeline--is staffed by trans people for trans people who need someone to talk to
There are more. Research. There are lawyers who will defend those who might be departed. There are medical workers providing care to the underserved. There are people gathering needed supplies for the water protectors at Standing Rock. There are people growing gardens in food deserts to help people feed themselves. Do what you can.
- Talk to your neighbors. Talk to people who don't look like you, or think like you.
- Find a reputable news source (support it if you can!)
- Listen to more than one point of view
- Read writings by people of color, women, immigrants. Read about a variety of experiences written by a variety of people.
- Here are a few reading lists that might get you started:
- Join a group that is working in your city
- Make dinner with your friends, and share ideas or resources
- Write and call your representatives
- Take it to the streets. Did you know that there is a post-election victory lap happening right now? Is there a future president of vp coming to your town? Can you get tickets online? Have you considered being a white ally to those who might want to speak but be targeted at those events? Put your body there.
- share your information in groups
- have access to a press and are you good with words? print away! slogans won't save us but they are a visible way to show support and to begin to reclaim space
- Smash bottles when you need to and nap if you can
- Cook food! for yourself and others
- Be kind. Take a deep breath. Don't punch that guy at the red light. He is not the problem. Unless he is the problem.
- Support your help with herbs. Janet of Medicine County Herbs has been writing extensively about this, about which herbs are good for anxiety, grief under the heading Herbs for Resistence. In New Orleans we are lucky to have Maypop Herb Shop to talk to about radical self-care through herbs.
- Speak up, Be a witness.
- Do not isolate. Reach out to your friends before you feel overwhelmed or helpless. Keep in touch to give yourself a touch stone, a way to check in. Find a buddy, near or afar.
- Find something that centers you, connects you, calms you and try to do it every day--taking a walk, practicing yoga, meditating, sitting at the river.
lucky for you, people smarter than me have been working on this problem:
- White accomplices is a website that breaks down different types of action you can take and how involved each action is. http://www.whiteaccomplices.org/
- Bear is yoga teacher, artist and activist in New Orleans. And a friend of mine. Their blog is about yoga and social justice--its clarity and simplicity makes it easy to understand while breaking down complex issues. http://bearteachesyoga.org/blog/
take care, take action.
By Hand /
Deciding to leave Oakland, I did no think about how it would change my work. I knew I would continue to print. I knew I cold adapt to whatever equipment was available. But I took for granted how efficient and specific my process had been. I designed on a computer. usually 2 postcards at a time, so I could focus my creative energy over a few days. Then I would order film, make plates. And, when I was ready, I would block off two or three days and print in multiple short visits to the shop. This allowed time for mistakes, for having an off day. There were always challenges but I minimized the range of issues.
At Baskerville, I have access to hand set type and a group for artists with different backgrounds and abilities. I have begun trying new techniques. And, of course, there is a curve as I re-learn how to set and lock up type. I am relearning and refiguring process.
This month I was inspired by a character in The Pushcart Wars, who preferred to attack "by hand" . I am appreciating the creative problem solving, the new possibilities of the equipment at hand. Not unlike learning to rock climb, another new experience in New Orleans. I have begun teaching at a climbing gym and am able to climb there. Looking at the wall, figuring out routes, solutions, how to get to where I want to go, this is not unlike the problem of what message will I convey this month. I am awkward at both, always learning.