by Julia Levine
This article was originally published on Artists & Climate Change, a blog by and about artists who engage with the climate crisis, on January 25, 2017.
“We are unstoppable, another world is possible.” One of my favorite rally cries from the Women’s March on Washington is carrying me through the first week of this bonkers administration. This phrase, and the experience of being surrounded by thousands of people showing up for similar goals, signified to me the possibility for a sustainable future. The creativity on display, through signs, costumes, and performance, contributed to the impact of the weekend. These displays offered intersectional perspectives – the Women’s March was in no way solely about women, but about the equitable and just world that we want to live in, despite what the people in power have in mind.
Walking out of the D.C. Metro on Friday, January 20 was like entering a ghost town. No cars, very few people, eerie silence. There was the familiarity of red, white, and blue, of a Starbucks on every corner. Familiar, but not comforting. These symbols of nationalism and consumerism are not going to save us. Cue tear gas bombs going off, and riot police storming the intersection. Thus the tone of my Inauguration Day experience was set.
by Danny Bradley
The city of Liverpool has a proud history of organising and enacting peaceful protests and demonstrations for countless causes for social justice. Last Saturday was far from an exception.
The grounds of St George's Hall seemed to be overflowing with people who turned up to march in solidarity with the women of America. The speakers were inspired, the chants rang loud, and the signs were utterly brilliant. (See attached photos - apologies for the Merseyside slang. Americans reading this; you haven't got a chance!)
Perhaps it was due to the transatlantic time difference, allowing us on this side of the pond to watch the inauguration straight after work, but the presidential ceremony left me feeling even more bewildered and crestfallen than I thought it would.
However, attending the Liverpool rally was quick to relight the flame.
The organiser had only put the event up a week or so prior, and yet everyone came out in hordes. Clearly, the sense of gloom was shared by a lot of people - but they decided to come together and make a concerted effort to transpose the greyness into active calls for change.
Those who approached the microphone spoke of the individual causes that they supported and how best we could get involved. I found that this helped break down the overarching sense of dread into smaller, bite-size chunks of activism; ways to actually participate in resisting the encroachment of intolerance.
I was proud to be at the Liverpool march. And I will keep being proud of the small, and sometimes enormous, ways in which we can all continue to show support for those who'll need it the most over the next four years.
Danny Bradley is UK based actor, musician, and long-distance collaborator with BTWC
by Paul Bedard
“The artist’s job is to make memories,” a teacher (Rubén Polendo) once told a class I was in during college. At the protest to Donald Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington, I couldn’t believe this more strongly. I believe artists have a unique ability to harness the unusual, to provoke imagination, and to create experiences that haunt and linger long after the event has ended. I believe artists, in the words of Taylor Mac, must remind people of what's been forgotten or ignored and crystallize the unforgettable and unignorable as it unfolds. We must make and preserve memories.
by Emily Rose Prats
I am unabashedly excited for the Million Women March. And that's a privilege.
Some I know are afraid--to be targeted by police, harassed by Trump supporters.
Some I know are struggling, the exertion a difficult prospect for those with physical and emotional disabilities.
Some I know are risking a lot, losing pay and maybe even their jobs.
Some I know are alone, seen as traitors and troublemakers by families who don't understand.
But marching is easy for me.
My family--my mom, my sister, my boyfriend--will be marching right beside me.
I'm white, middle-class, and wholesome-looking. It's unlikely I'll face discrimination tomorrow.
I can march all day long on my two feet, full of energy, eating protein bars and PBJ.
I don't have to miss work. I was able to afford train tickets. I'm lucky to have a friend so gracious as to open her home to my whole family, saving us all the cost of accommodations.
I treasure this feeling of camaraderie, of solidarity. I'm grateful for this opportunity. I'm so happy to see how much good has already come of the Trump villainy.
But I recognize how lucky I am to be in this position, and I salute those for whom tomorrow--and the next four years--will be far more difficult.
For feminism to be the intersectional place we want it to be, we have to celebrate our own joyful perspective and be conscious that others can't share that joy. We must be sensitive to these disparities. And we have to see them for what they are: evidence that there's always more work to be done.
Emily Rose Prats is a dog-lover, Pride and Prejudice obsessee, and marketer raised in Kentucky and living in Brooklyn. She's trying to live well, fight consumerism, and be a good role model.
Women's March on Washington
Spotify playlist by Kelly Webb
Kelly Webb is an actor, director and writer living in Brooklyn.
by Alice Pencavel
I am drawn to those experiences that accentuate my smallness and my greatness simultaneously — to feel my choices and actions have consequence, while also acknowledging how so very small I am in the great scheme of things. This sensation — which to me imbues a deepened sense of purpose — was the prevailing spirit of the NYC Climate March of 2014.
CALLING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES
HOW TO DO IT
AND HOW TO GET GOOD AT IT
by Jake Beckhard
So you woke up pissed off! There’s a lot out there to be pissed off about. We’ve got our backs against the wall. You remember vaguely: this article, where a former congressional staffer gave some sincere tips on how to influence your elected officials. You remember: Congressional staffers (and therefore their bosses in elected office) don’t pay attention to tweets or facebook comments, and they have a hard time reading or responding to every letter and email sent to their office. But, calling them - you can almost always get someone who’s willing to talk to you, however briefly.
You resolve to call your congresspeople! But there are two obstacles in your way:
That’s where I come in!
by Emily Rose Prats
I’m not sure what I’m doing in BTWC. I’m here because I need a place to learn and to share, a place where the desire to do what’s right is a central premise, and not some naive ideal. But I don’t share the conviction that art—in the site-specific, downtown-Manhattan, blackbox-theatre sense—is an effective form of protest.
On the first day of acting class in college, our instructor asked what acting meant to each of us. I declared it to be a responsibility: introducing the audience to “the other,” building empathy, connecting one human to the next. But the longer I was in the business, the more I realized that for most actors, the vocation is a commercial one—whether by choice, because one’s goal is to make money, or by necessity, because a person needs money to live—and for most audiences, the arts are a brief escape from the burden of consciousness.
And even in a city like New York, where thought-provoking theatre happens nightly, and truly indie films screen regularly, it still takes work to find these dots of light among countless Disney spectacles and the plethora of film stars.
So I’m not sold on performance as protest.
Heck, I’m not even sold on protest as protest.
by Lawrence Dreyfuss
The school bus
rocking up and down with each bump.
The cracked streets Push you high.
The further back you sit the more and more you fly,
the roller coaster of School District 153.
I sit with glee and see
the coolest kids sit in the back of the bus
The COOLest kids sit in the back
A nod to Rosa Parks - doesn’t matter if you are white or black.
In Elementary school, we had not yet begun to see race.
by Kelly Webb
In keeping with the BTW Collective’s mission, one of our primary goals is to educate and in order to educate others we need to continue to educate ourselves. We at the BTW Collective know that the process of empathy and understanding never ends; it is a constant pursuit of knowledge, it is a constant exercise of exploring perspectives outside of ourselves, and reading is a powerful tool in the pursuit of understanding. We know that any action we undertake as artists or activists stands on the shoulders of those who came before us, and through reading and discussing the work of artists, activists, and politicians of the past we can use their lessons to inform our work in the present and future.
Goodreads is an app and website for book lovers. Individuals can track what they’re reading, review books, create “shelves” of their favorites, and get recommendations based on what they like, while authors can update and communicate directly with their fans and readers. Another great function of goodreads is its ease in facilitating book groups. The Back to Work Collective goodreads group will be a place where we can:
Kelly Webb is an actor, director and writer living in Brooklyn.
A collection of pieces by our network
Want to write for this blog?