Discover more from Activist Explorer Newsletter, by Juliana Barnet
Introducing Activist Explorer
Exploring the activist experience in reality and in fiction.
Welcome to my quest to understand more about my community: social justice activists.
For decades I’ve engaged in environmental, union, youth, community, anti-imperialist, and other kinds of activism. I’m passionately fond of, amazed at, and at times frustrated by, the fascinating folks on the front lines of the fights against injustice and for decent life for all.
In Activist Explorer I reflect on the delights, dilemmas, and dangers of life for activists—as individuals, organizations, communities, movements, and as a worldwide uprising to create a just society. Activists are first responders to injustice, midwives to new social structures emerging messily from the old.
I want to understand us better. I want us to be better understood. I want to contribute to creating a better climate for us. And for more and more folks to talk about and become part of the activist experience.
Justice, peace, and planetary survival depend on people rising up together!
These days, that is literally true!
We’ll be exploring questions such as…
What’s it like to live life in the belly of the beast we’re struggling to transform?
How does this continual struggle affect our emotional lives?
How do activists amplify our connection—our sole superpower—while confronting the tremendous pressures that divide and isolate us?
Apropos of the above, here is my first offering under the topic of Activist Emotional Landscape:
I’m also delving into the representation of activists in fiction. I’ve always loved reading fiction, yet often get annoyed because characters facing social problems always seem to tackle them individually.
“Stop moping!” I want to tell them. “Get together to make change!”
So I started keeping an eye out for stories with activists, and looking into questions such as…
Where are the activists in fiction and why are they so few and far between?
Why are activists often dismissed and stereotyped in stories?
Why does this matter—for activists and for everyone?
Questions and reflections are all very well, but I also wanted to write my own fiction featuring activists—the Rainwood House social justice mystery series. I’ll be sharing that work in the Rainwood House section of this newsletter.
Plus: each week look for Fiction Featuring Activists Fridays
FFA Fridays showcase a work of fiction—novel, movie, TV show, narrative game, any sort of fiction—where activists are central to the story.
The first FFA Friday spotlight is Radium Girls (2018), directed by Lydia Dean Pilcher.
Other topics Activist Explorer will be exploring:
The emotional ups, downs, and struggles of being an activist.
Going deep into the nature of activism, activist culture, the activist community, and what human nature has to do with activism.
Exploring how social justice movements and activists are represented in fiction—movies, novels, TV shows, and more. Noting what makes for full and fair representation of folks fighting for justice, and of the ways activists are invisibilized, stereotyped, and dismissed. Encouraging the creation of fiction portraying activists as authentic, relatable humans.
Everyday Activist Life
The beast is rife with exploitation, domination, and violence at every level. Activists work to transform the system, but, at the same time, we are subject to it all kinds of ways. What can we learn from activists about the experience of living our daily lives in the belly of the very beast we are struggling to transform?
An old house in Maryland filled with mutterings of past racial justice struggles, old books, and musical plumbing, becomes a modern-day refuge for a community activist falsely accused of shooting a police officer.
In this section I share experiences, twists, and turns of creating and publishing this particular work of fiction featuring activists.
You received this newsletter because:
You’re my real-life comrade, colleague, neighbor, relation (in the broadest sense), and/or friend, and we’ve participated together in struggles for justice, peace and planetary survival.
Your own work leads me to hope you would be interested in exchanging thoughts on subjects I’m exploring
Someone felt you might be interested and shared this with you!