Since landing in North Carolina in 2013, Mic has been winding their way through the weeds of social activism, political development, and community organizing. Committed to the work of tearing down illegitimate racial, gender, and economic hierarchies, they seek to explore new (and old) ways of being in relationship with one another and the larger living world. Mic envisions Firestorm as a place to cultivate and unleash the kind of radical imagination required to transform systems of oppression and build communities rooted in social justice and ecological sustainability. They like books on plants, politics, and philosophy, and recently started reading fiction again. They do event coordination for our community room and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First published in 1974, Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed shook the core of what I believed possible. It's imagined anarchist utopia, and resulting societal struggles, take place on the barren moonlike planet of Anarres. The story that follows inspires a rigorous intellectual exercise while managing to maintain an emotional quality. Through compelling characters and world building, Le Guin questions and challenges our ideas of language, land, love, and humanity and juxtaposes an attempt at an ethical society with a home planet that continues to exploit, oppress, and extract from its people and land. In the end, little is resolved but everything has changed. There are no easy answers, but The Dispossessed opens up a world of wonder and imagination that can, possibly more than any other work of fiction, aid in the move towards a liberated society.
This is the first book I read after the 2016 general election. So many people in my life had been protesting, marching, sitting in, shutting down, and organizing for a world free of oppression, and that project had just been dealt a huge blow. It felt like the start of an especially horrific turn, and Octavia Butler had seen it all coming in 1993. And through the life and words of the protagonist, Lauren Oalmania, was telling us what we could do about it. Or, perhaps more accurately, what we might have to do about it, much like Lauren is forced throughout the story. A bleak depiction of our future that feels alarmingly close to our present, it is only through Laurens creativity, innovation, and self-determined faith that we receive any relief from the desperate and violent world crumbling around her. I'm forever grateful to Octavia for warning of what might come and offering a visionary resource in what we might do to adapt, change, and survive.
An impactful read for anyone working at the intersection of anti-racist, feminist, and social movement organizing, especially folks who identify as white and/or male. Chris Crass shares a passionate and seasoned perspective on the development of liberatory practice told from over a decade of experience in various grassroots and anarchist projects. Full of strategy, tactics, interviews, and analysis, the lessons explored in Towards Collective Liberation offer profound realizations which warrant multiple reads. A valuable contribution to the toolbox for any on-the-ground community organizers and activists.
Excerpt from Your Life:
"Your name is not a song you will sing under your breath.
Your pronouns haven't even been invented yet.
You're gonna shave your head
and drive through Texas.
You're gonna kill your own God
so you can fall in love for the first time.
They're gonna keep telling you
your heartbeat is a pre-existing condition.
They're gonna keep telling you
you are a crime of nature.
You're gonna look at all your options
and choose conviction
Choose to carve your own heart
out of the side of a cliff
Choose to spend your whole life telling secrets you owe no one
to everyone, until there isn't anyone who can insult you
By calling you what you are.
You Holy blinking star.
You highway streak of light,
falling over and over for your hard life,
your perfect life,
your sweet, beautiful life."