Writing for Social Change

Do you think people should plant their lawns with food instead of grass? Do you wish there was free education for all? Are you bothered about the way things are done? Well, stop complaining to your friends about it …and complain to the whole dang world!

In this workshop, we will work to create articles that express our opinions in a compelling way. There won’t be time to write the whole article in the 1.5 hour workshop, but we’ll narrow down topics, outline our articles, discuss research strategies, and then discuss strategies for getting our articles read by the most people possible.

Everyone is welcomed to join, whether you just want to write one article about that thing you’ve been brooding about for a while, or whether writing is already part of your daily practice.

About the host: My name is Hayley Steele, I am an MFA student in creative writing. For the past two years, I have been writing under various names for indy media publications including AdBusters, Slingshot, and Indybay. Sometimes I think the articles I write don’t matter, but then I meet someone from a far away city who read something I wrote and got inspired.

I believe that every person is a writer, and learning to write well empowers us to make huge changes to the world, especially in this age of fluid information. Just one piece of writing can make a huge difference!

Texts to keep in mind

  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson Released 1962, this book launched the modern environmental movement
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Released in 1852. Eleven years later, slavery was outlawed.
  • Call to Occupy Wall Street From Adbusters Magazine in July 2011, this was the call to action for the Occupy Movement. The historians will be the ones to decide what this one accomplished… Read it at:https://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/occupywallstreet.html



Pete Seeger – The Power of Song

In memoriam to reknowned activist Pete Seeger,  the Long Haul presents the full film Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (2007) ,  a documentary film about the life and music of the folk singer Pete Seeger.[1] The film, which won an Emmy Award, was executive produced by Seeger’s wife, filmmaker Toshi Seeger, when she was 85 years old.[2][3]

The documentary was directed by Jim Brown, who also directed The Weavers: Wasn’t That a Time! (1982). The film includes interviews with Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Tom Paxton, Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul and Mary), Natalie Maines, and numerous Seeger family members. One of its associate producers was Kitama Jackson, a grandson of Seeger.pete seeger

Kanehsateke: 270 Years of Resistance

This film documents the 1990 crisis when Native Americans of the Mohawk Nation blocked access to reserve land which was being appropriated against their will by the White community of Oka, Quebec, Canada. What this film shows is the initial incident and the resulting siege from the Mohawks point of view as an illustration how this is simply a result of resistance to 270 years of European racism pushing them around and leading up to this confrontation.


Movie Poster

Movie: From Soweto to Berkeley

Documentary (1987), 50 min, dir. Scott Wiseman

“Soweto to Berkeley” explores the student protests and debates at UC Berkeley in the 1980s which led to the Board of Regents decision to withdraw $3.1 billion in funds from companies doing business in South Africa. With the students’ tactics including occupations and direct actions, their organizing efforts, and their successes and failures, still resonate today.

Discussion to follow. Folks who were involved in the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s are invited to attend and speak about their experiences.

Film: From the Back of the Room

This documentary chronicles the past 30 years of female involvement in DIY punk, and has interviews with over 30 women from across the country, ages 17 to 40. Race, gender, sexuality, motherhood, class, and activism are all addressed in this film, giving a more complete picture of how these women participate in the DIY community, and how it affects their daily lives..

  • Directed by: Amy Oden
  • Runtime: 1 hour 44 minutes
  • Release year: 2013

Zero Patience

Victorian adventurer and sexologist Sir Richard Francis Burton (John Robinson), following an “unfortunate encounter” with the Fountain of Youth in 1892, is 170 years old and living in Toronto, Canada. Burton, now living and working as the chief taxidermist at a Museum of Natural History[disambiguation needed], is searching for a centerpiece display for an exhibit in his Hall of Contagion. He comes up with the idea of featuring AIDS and the Patient Zero hypothesis. Accepting the popular belief that Zero introduced the virus to North America, Burton sets out to collect video footage from those who knew Zero to support the hypothesis. When Zero’s doctor (Brenda Kamino), mother (Charlotte Boisjoli) and former airline colleague Mary (Dianne Heatherington), who is now with ACT UP, all refuse to demonize Zero, Burton manipulates the footage to make it appear as if they do and includes doctored photographs of Zero showing signs of Kaposi’s sarcoma. He presents this preliminary version to the press.

The ghost of Zero (Normand Fauteux) materializes at a local gay bathhouse. No one can see or hear him, until Zero runs into Burton while Burton is spying on Zero’s friend George. Zero realizes that Burton can see him, although Zero does not show up on Burton’s video camera. The two strike a deal; Zero agrees to help Burton with his Patient Zero exhibit if Burton finds a way to make Zero appear.

The two return to the museum where Burton makes a ridiculous attempt to seduce Zero to ensure his participation. Rejecting his advances, Zero examines some of the other exhibits (including displays on Typhoid Mary and the Tuskegee syphilis study) before finding an African green monkey, another suspected early AIDS vector. The monkey (Marla Lukofsky) angrily denounces Zero for scapegoating her just as he has been scapegoated. Zero turns to Burton and they make love.

Under pressure from his director and the exhibit’s drug manufacturer sponsor, Burton steals Zero’s medical records in hopes of discovering new information. Zero and Burton examine an old blood sample of Zero’s under a microscope and discover Miss HIV (Michael Callen), who points out that the original study that was used to label Patient Zero as the first person to bring HIV to North America did not prove any such thing, but instead helped prove that HIV was sexually transmitted, leading to the development of safer sex practices. Under this interpretation, Zero could be lauded as a hero for his candor in participating in that original study. As Burton ponders this, an unknown fluid squirts from the eye pieces of the microscope, drenching Zero and making him appear on video. He joyously declares his innocence on tape but the effect only lasts five minutes before he fades away again. Zero angrily accuses Burton of not caring for him at all and only wanting to use him for the exhibit, then storms out.

Burton fails to complete the revised Patient Zero exhibit before its scheduled opening date. The museum curator substitutes the original presentation instead over Burton’s protests, leading to a renewed rush of press scapegoating Zero. The night after the exhibit opens, Mary and other ACT UP members break into the Hall of Contagion and trash the exhibit. Zero returns and Burton explains that he tried to stop the exhibit. Zero forgives Burton but says he wants to disappear again completely. Zero merges with his disfigured video image and, smoking a cigarette inside the video, sets off the fire alarm. The sprinklers destroy the video player and Zero vanishes.

A major subplot involves George (Richardo Keens-Douglas), a French teacher and former intimate of Zero’s. George is losing his sight to cytomegalovirus and is taking a drug that is manufactured by a company that, as a member of ACT UP, George is protesting. George struggles through the film to resolve his conflicted feelings over this, his guilt over abandoning Zero during the final days of his illness and his fear that the same thing will happen to him.