where you read by Hope A

 

I have a friend who used to only open his mail when he was ready to respond. I tried that for a while but lately, I want to read it as soon as I have it. I stand outside the post office, facing the bayou and read everything. The other day that included 2 poems from a book a friend sent to me. I cried a little, looked up to see the post office around me, the bayou across from and rode home.

Despite my reputation and vocation, I sometimes don't write back. I have found that making time, if not every morning, then at least once a week, to answer my mail has helped. I still read everything standing at the post office but then I reread, find an appropriate note card and write back.

This month, there was a lot of exoerimentation in the process. And nothing worked out like I thought (which is the important part of experimenting! discovering new things!)  I took a photo of the spot at the bayou, but my phone had recently fallen into some water and the photo was hazy because the lens hadn't quite dried out . I used the blurry photo as a reference for a line drawing. I was going to use 2 layers--a detailed top layer and a soft under color. But one of them didn't work. The I decided to experiment with a split fountain on a platen press. And I chose the colors of the rainbow. The result: a card that is not what I thought it would be. But when is it ever, really?

 

lists by Hope A

Keep Writing number 97 April 2017

Keep Writing number 97 April 2017

I like lists. I multiple to-do lists, short term and long term, shopping and big plans and day trips and people to write to.  I write lists to help organize my thoughts and sometimes to help me organize my memories. When the multiple plans and to-do lists become more stressful than helpful, I toss them all and simplify.

This is not new. In 8th grade I kept a tiny notebook for a week with everything I ate, not just calories and fat or things you might connect to body image issues emerging at puberty. I don't think I was trying to get skinny* but I wanted to know how I ate. I kept track of vitamins and minerals.

My friend Bear** also keeps lists. I remember a gold star chart they had in their apartment in New Orleans, giving themselves stars for cooking and spending time with friends. I like these simplified lists of what we need to do to take care of ourselves. What things in a day are important and what can be overlooked. I constantly need this reminder so this month's postcard is a list of what I think I need to do everyday to be healthy and happy and grow.  And today's tip--I alternate water and iced mint tea as it gets warmer, because I can rarely drink enough water but the cooling mint is sometimes better than coffee in the afternoon. Really. Try it. 

here come the footnotes:

*an interesting thing I just realized in the past 5 years--I thought I was skinny all those years. I am not sure any more. I am not sure when I thought I wasn't any more but I used to buy strightlegged pants though I have curvy hips strong thighs. Body image is a weird warped thing. I was lucky not to struggle with it, in the way that I felt ok about my body but what I thought I saw and what is there were generally not the same thing.

**I talk about Bear a lot. Partly because they are a great human being. But they also happen to be a great yoga instructor and life coach. They once helped me write a post-it sized plan (literally on a post-it note) about how I was going to make the most of college and graduate. If you want once a  week sweet notes from Bear, talking about taking care of yourself and social justice and being a part of a community---I strongly suggest you subscribe to their weekly love notes.  And if you are looking for some good advice and guidance on how to make your own gold star chart and more, talk with Bear about coaching. Seriously. They are the best.

Different Ways to Resist by Hope A

image from the Social Justice Kitten collection by Sean Teharatchi

image from the Social Justice Kitten collection by Sean Teharatchi

Since the presidential votes were counted, I, along with many others, have been plotting different ways to resist, to stand strong and feel connected against what has felt like a tidal wave of difficulties.  Outright racist and fear-mongering speeches, unleashing the worst in some people, the deliberate and blatant refusal of an idea of a fact. It can feel overwhelming. But there are many groups already working against the affects of racism, fear, poverty, to help with access and empowerment. I decided to use the thing I already do, sending postcards every month, to raise money for local groups doing tangible work. I started by offering pay-by-donation subscriptions to the Keep Writing Project on Inauguration Day. The response was so great I extended it another 24 hours. I then decided it would continue for the first 100 days of the new presidency.   After a few weeks, and $800 for the New Orleans Abortion Fund, I started raising money for BreakOUT, a group that works to end the criminalization of LGBT youth. For the last 30 days I will raise money for the Cornerstone Builders, a group that support newly released in their first 72 hours out of prison. Part of this project also pays for monthly busses to take family to visit their loved ones.   Every year a group of cyclists ride from New Orleans to Angola to raise money for this project, to keep families in touch, to offer connection to those who are imprisoned. For the whole month of April, I will send any money I receive for Keep Writing subscriptions to this group. There are many ways to resist. Donating money is a small part, but also learning about these groups, belong to support them in anyway. Stay close y'all.

Research in South Louisiana by Hope A

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. 

From the Source by Hope A

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.

Links are provided! Just click on the underlined source.

NPR

The Rachel Maddow Show

Democracy Now

WTF happened today

Al Jazeera 

and I will keep it updated as y'all send me yours! (in no particular order)

New York Times

Washington Post

Huffington Post

LA Times

 

The Eutomaidan (for Eastern Europe)

Southerners on New Ground newsletter

NARAL newsletter

Emily's List newsletter

Council on Islamic Relations newsletter

National Immigration Law Center newsletter

The Skimm

The Guardian

Daily Kos

Twitter

Bust magazine

Bitch magazine

The Daily Show

John Oliver /Last Week Tonight

Colbert/ The Late Show

The New Yorker

High Country News

The Economist

France 24

the library!

art by people who are not like me

Radio Canada

The Lens New Orleans

The Advocate Baton Rouge & New Orleans

PBS

this crazy TV station that my antenna picks up from Japan

response from Andy

response from Andy

an introduction by Hope A

20170301_160955.jpg

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.

Let there be Light! by Hope A

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: gutwrenchhope@gmail.com

 

Resistance is Love in Action by Hope A

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. 

 

post script:

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!