Saturday, January 9, 2010

Issue 2 so far. . .

Here are the first 6 formatted submissions--21 pages and more on the way!

2009 was a difficult year for me for many reasons, and for most of the year, The Worst was lying dormant on my hard drive and in my imagination. I thought I would write a little bit here about the sustainability of projects like this. While my deadline for submissions was flexible, I have far surpassed the time by which I had hoped to have the zine printed and distributed, and I have felt tremendous (albeit self-inflicted) pressure to get it out quickly. I felt a responsibility to the contributors as well as to others who have reached out to me since Issue 1 came out and started amazing dialogues about loss and how we can heal from it.

There has been an incredible amount of discussion in radical and activist communities recently about burnout and the sustainability of movements and projects (e.g. Counterbalance zine, Aftershock), and the idea that people within movements that challenge mainstream capitalist culture must themselves be cared for and replenished if the movements are to survive. The idea of self-care within sustainable movements also critiques the mode of activism practiced by those more privileged activists (usually white college students) who become imbued with the crisis of social change, create amazing energy in the struggles in which they choose to engage, and then are forced to withdraw or take extended breaks to preserve their mental health. As I have grown and gained perspective on my own "white college activist burnout syndrome," I have learned that I must explore the nuances of the situations in which I hold privilege and those in which I am powerless. I have learned that I must listen to those for whom struggles are not chosen, but violently imposed. From those for whom survival is necessarily a way of life, I have learned that I have a lot to learn.

I think that sustainable social change takes time, whole lifetimes, and that we lose power when we lose/exclude members because of illness, (dis)ability, grief, mental health issues, abuse, and all of the heartbreak and violence of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. We lose power when the pace and style of our movements are such that certain people are excluded from participation on their own terms.

I have had an incredibly hard time treating myself with patience and care as I put off the zine in order to heal from this past year. I think that grief (and often trauma) are experiences which touch nearly everyone sooner or later, and I have taken a lot of strength from the gathering of different voices in response to my and other grief zines' calls for submissions. Of course the importance of learning to take care of myself has been staring up at me in black and white all of this time, in a submission to the second issue by Morrigan Phillips. She writes:

"There is time to breathe and there is time to grieve and time enough to sing songs with friends and make pie and grow a garden. There is even time enough to stop and say to your friends, “My heart is too heavy for this work right now. I need to care for myself and be cared for.” And to not walk away, but just begin to work on a different part of that ship we are all building."

So in more eloquent words, my heart has been too heavy to carry The Worst, but I am proceeding at the pace I need to in order to ensure that the project survives, (hence my excitement at sharing all of my recent cutting and pasting!). Im wondering if other people have similar experiences or thoughts on keeping this balance.


cynthia ann schemmer said...

This is looking so amazing! I am so proud of you (but I always am).

KW HQ said...

Kathleen, you are so smart! I loved this post, I love your process and your constant striving to grow. Thank you for being such an inspiration. xoxox