A New Year's Revolution
an interview with Justine Skye Wilson
A New Year’s Revolution started on November 9, 2016 when a small group of progressively-minded friends in Brooklyn and D.C. found themselves faced with arguably one of the most dangerous Presidents elect that this country has ever seen. On New Year’s Eve, they made a resolution to encourage collective, daily resistance to the incoming administration and its policies, and to fight for progressive change on a larger scale.
By encouraging civic engagement as a regular habit, A New Year's Revolution hopes to cultivate a culture of social awareness and accountability that will sustain the resistance movement for years to come.
It was a pleasure to interview Justine Skye Wilson from A New Year's Revolution for the ninth issue of Cordella. We hope you'll enjoy, and engage!
Cordella Magazine: Tell us a little bit about how A New Year’s Revolution began!
Justine Skye Wilson: A group of mostly Brooklyn based women were angry! Once the election was over, these women got to work. We began meeting on a weekly basis to discuss ‘what the fuck do we do about all this?’ Between sharing food and ideas, we came up with quite a lot.
When January 1st hit, the group was ready to roll out our plan of one daily action one can do to counteract the new administration.
I, myself, didn’t get very involved until I started asking what all of them were doing for the women’s march. It became rapidly clear that we needed to get our butts to D.C. and represent. Singing tunes all the way to D.C. inspired by some of the strongest women in music; we made it. In that weekend we cultivated a strength that gave us the power to carry out our mission for the rest of 2017.
CM: Your Tool Kit feature offers diverse opportunities and ideas for people to engage in social and political action. Can you describe the creative process behind putting this monthly kit together?
JSW: The tool kit was born out of our plan for 2018, the resistance calendar. We painstakingly labored over this calendar creating actions that could be done in the new year, not knowing what it might bring. With the help of 12 wonderful and resistance-esque artists, and a graphic designer who put in so much time to help design the calendar, we were able to make our deadline and get these calendars out in the new year. The toolkit consists of materials found on the physical calendar, as well as, expansive information for actions on the calendar needing a bit more context.
CM: Your resistance calendar is absolutely beautiful! Can you tell us a bit about the artwork you’ve included?
JSW: We are so in love with the artwork! We had artists submit their work to us and worked very closely with them to find items, or even create new pieces of work, that would fit into this crazy idea we had. Their patience and time given to us is super precious, and I can’t believe how many artists there are leading the visual charge of these resistant times.
CM: What are some examples of how your project has affected positive social change?
JSW: We’ve had people repost some of our actions as they do them which has been the most encouraging thing. People remembering to ditch plastic water bottles or bring their own mug for their daily coffee. Other people calling their representatives for the first time! And the astonishing changes that all of us have personally gone through by working on this project.
CM: You are organized between two large cities (NYC and DC) and have a lively social media presence. How have you connected with people in real life? Do you have any plans for outreach to rural areas?
JSW: We’ve connected with people at a handful of events, and small meetups at each other’s houses. For 2018, in order to make this year sustainable, we’ve had to scale back leading the charge and strengthen our bonds with organizations that already have funding and boots on the ground, so to speak. We feel that this is a much more effective way of getting people involved in an in-person way. We essentially want to be a hub for ideas of how to resist and information about getting involved with focused/one-issue organizations that ignite your passion.
The Resistance Calendar, a project created by Michael Moore, for people across the country to submit information for anti-45 in person events/protests.
5 Calls is a great way to learn about contacting your representatives and getting them to be accountable and spending their time on the issues that matter most to you.
Run For Something helps to recruit and support young diverse progressives to run for office! Whether you want to run or help those running, there are a lot of opportunities within this organization.
#KnockEveryDoor gets you started on door to door canvassing, something a lot of progressives have never tried. They help to defend and flip districts in favor of progressive ideas.
These are just a small number of the organizations we highlight in our toolkit and on our calendar. With so many grass roots and well developed organizations all over the country we’ve realized we need to give them a voice and bring to light all of the opportunities they have in store for progressives who want to become more active.
CM: Have you had any civil discourse with people/groups with differing political opinions? Any stories?
JSW: We definitely get a troll or two through social media, but I also find we have a lot of people who want to learn, and are not sure why they agree or disagree with an issue. Personal attacking on both sides definitely happens all over the internet these days, and has occurred for most of us in our own families. We hope to provide everyone with guidance for their curiosity, and to look at issues as wholeheartedly and intersectional as possible.
Mostly our goal was to not give personal attacking a voice. Not only is completely not productive, but it puts in a backwards motion-the opposite of what we are trying to achieve.
CM: What has been one of the most challenging experiences of your project?
JSW: Collaboration is not easy on this level. We averaged about 6-8 women at all times in 2017. Finding time to discuss plans and organize was definitely a challenge, especially considering that not all of us live in NY and sometimes were in different time zones. We’re also all working full time at achieving our dreams in a variety of careers.
CM: Do you find it personally sustainable to maintain steady social awareness and engagement in our current political climate? Any tips for people who are feeling overwhelmed by it all?
JSW: I think everyone, whether it affected their lives personally or not, felt the unexpected weight of 2017. Personally, I had to find my own balance. I am a huge podcast and WNYC (local NPR) fan! I could eat up all the news and stories all day long, but as 2017, and still in 2018, brought on so so SO many devastating things I have become quite exhausted at times.
Some of the tips I’ve learned are actually some of the actions we created in 2017. The idea is that real resistance is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Really it’s actually a complete lifestyle change. Those kinds of changes and knowledge don’t just appear overnight. It’s something you work at one day at a time.
Some of the ways we came up with for sustainability are about self-care: meditation, going for a bike ride, taking a day off from the news, etc. Personally, I’ve found that face masks and spending time with friends helps me the most.
Lastly, I’d say do not downplay the vast wealth there is in small actions. Especially living in a capitalist society, one HUGE way to resist is simply to be aware of where and how you’re spending money. We’ve been brought up in a society that pushes us to buy the cheapest products at an incredible rate. You’re essentially already taking a daily political action by where you choose to spend your money whether you like it or not.
For example, buying clothes made by slaves, (I mean, hey, we all do it) is most likely not aligned with our resistance values, yet our addiction to fast fashion consumes us, and it’s causing real human and environmental harm around the world. We need to let go of the ‘more, more, more’ mentality. And I’ll reiterate, again, this is a lifestyle choice, not a crash diet! So find a way to take all of this one day at a time.
CM: What are your plans for the future of A New Year’s Revolution? What directions are you hoping to grow in?
JSW: We hope to keep selling our calendars (still available for 2018!) which help raise money for Planned Parenthood (https://www.plannedparenthood.org/) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (https://www.splcenter.org/).
Right now, we’re hoping for more people to join our team and bring new steam and ideas to our group. Also, we’d love for people to use a lot of the actions we created in 2017 this year, as there are literally 365 to choose from!
We are interested in expanding what this group could be and have a lot of secret ideas planned for the future! So look out 2018! We’re coming for you.