WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ACTIVIST?
WORDS: KATE WEINER
IMAGE: CHRISTIAN O'ROURKE
I want to tell stories that make a difference in this world. That inspire people to fall in love with our sensuous & spellbinding earth. That make you wake up hungry to fight. That give you the tangible tools to do so.
As a writer, however, I struggle to claim my work as "activism." I consider the time I spend in strategizing sessions, rallying in public, and organizing community events to be activism. I look at my own art as less than.
Since the election, we've been getting many more messages than usual at Loam thanking us for our work. I've had folks share that Loam is inspiring them to take concrete action during a time of profound crisis. And I'm starting to realize that if I want to turn the wild hope these loves notes bring into tangible change—if I want to move Loam from a magazine and toward a movement—I have to claim the work that I do to be as valid and vital a branch of activism as the work of my badass climate organizer friends.
From our very beginning, Loam has believed that art is activism. We celebrate dancers and musicians and herbalists who are using their unique skills to reimagine our relationship to our infinitely precious planet. Why wouldn't I extend that same appreciation to my own work? Stories shape the steps we take.
I know I'm not alone in this. Many of us are socialized to dismiss the power of our passions. But when our world needs every one of us fighting for her, we can't afford to throw our power away.
Each one of us is an activist when we catalyze our passions to inspire change. Activism isn't only about direct action, although being a body in this world is very much a part of it. It's about embodying hope, both on the streets and in the sanctuary of your home.
You can feel this weirdly warm winter in your bones and mourn what our world will look like—parched, hot, barren—if business continues as usual. And that can scare you into staying the same.
Or you can lean into the reality and plant your feet firmly in that fertile strip of hope that separates the present moment from the hypothetical future. You can believe that you have the power to be the tipping point because you make art that stirs your soul and anything that stirs your soul has the potential to stir others. You can take ownership of your actions and the collective impact of your everyday decisions. Because if you can't embody hope for the world you want, the world you want will never exist.
You are a revolution unto yourself. And sometimes, the very first step toward embracing that fiery, raw, nervy power is reclaiming the role of "activist." It's a small reframe that can help you truly believe in your capacity to change.