December is a time for reflection, when we look back at what has happened throughout the year and make plans for what we want to bring into being in the new one. For us at Ideas on Fire, 2016 has been a whirlwind. We’ve grown enormously in terms of our team, our content, our programs, and the range of interdisciplinary, progressive projects (both our own and our clients’) we’ve been able to get out into the world. Here we offer a brief “year in review” highlighting some of the most exciting things to come out of IoF in the last 12 months.
The most noticeable (and exciting) change this year was the 7 amazing folks who joined the IoF team
Terry Park, Julia Jordan-Zachery, and Kate Drabinski joined the team as coaches for our Grad School Rockstars community. Their stellar guidance for our graduate student clients and their creative approaches to community pedagogy, performance, and feminist and anti-racist self-care made it possible to expand Grad School Rockstars.
Michelle Velasquez-Potts became our junior editor and Sarah Grey our senior editor and indexer. Their commitment to altac/postac careers and radical editing enabled Ideas on Fire to increase the number of social justice-oriented books and articles we helped get out into the world, many of which you can see here.
Priyanka Kaura came on board as our new administrative assistant. She kept the day-to-day work of IoF running smoothly and her awesome work on show notes enabled us to expand the Imagine Otherwise podcast featuring the phenomenal work happening at the intersections of art, activism, and academia.
Alexandra Sastre wowed us as our new content manager. Her editorial expertise and creativity revitalized our blog and editorial strategy and helped up exponentially increase the audiences we could reach and help.
We also bid farewell to Stephanie Maroney and Julie Lenard, but are very excited to support their new endeavors—Stephanie is finishing up her dissertation in Cultural Studies at the University of California, Davis and Julie is helping folks tell their stories at The Storyologist.
We produced 27 episodes of the Imagine Otherwise podcast, showcasing folks using culture for social justice, including
- a scholar-activist organizing with Cambodian refugee youth and African Americans in NYC for welfare rights
- a trapeze artist who directs a queer feminist circus performance troupe in Philadelphia
- a punk zinester who is part of the communities of color revolutionizing tarot
- a radical librarian and anti-racist blogger advocating for open-access publishing to help AIDS activists get life-saving information
- an opera singer and poet who “followed Alice down the rabbit hole”
- documentary filmmakers highlighting stories about African American women fighting sexual assault, transgender people of color’s oral history, and queer Afghan communities organizing against war
- a K-12 educator creating activist Latinx comics that “put the ‘chola’ in scholar”
- a feminist organic farmer and playwright showing how Japanese American farmers built California agriculture
- a professor using comics and other popular culture forms to create Afro futurities
- an ethnic-studies-trained gallery curator offering art as a public right and public good
- a radio host and scholar-activist organizing for undocumented people’s rights
- two fashion bloggers fighting fatphobia and racist labor politics in the fashion industry
- a web developer and media scholar documenting how people with disabilities are revolutionizing media accessibility
- a writing coach and memoirist of the Indian diaspora teaching us all to “write like unicorns”
- a surveillance scholar documenting how Black people resist state violence
- a digital games maker revolutionizing the digital humanities for social justice
- a poet offering robots and love as Asian American resistance tools
- a TV producer who built a platform for queer and women of color media production
- two feminist curators using oral history and art to fight reproductive stigma
- a feminist memoirist using zines to create queer worlds for rural kids
- a mental health advocate and magazine editor teaming up to support Asian American mental health
- a food writer and editor using meatballs for radical community-building
- a digital media artist and professor creating wearable technologies to save Black and Brown lives
- a self-care advocate and cultural studies scholar showing how Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim artists create revolutionary art
Cathy’s new guide Book Marketing for Academics was published (it makes a great holiday or New Year’s gift!)
We also hosted and spoke at several events
- Make It Work: Doing Cultural Studies Beyond the Academy: Terry and Cathy hosted this session about altac/postac careers at the 2016 Cultural Studies Association conference
- Beyond the Professoriate conference: Cathy spoke on the Entrepreneurship and Freelancing panel about altac/postac careers
- Rock Your Semester: Road Maps and Writing Routines: We taught this workshop at the University of Pittsburgh, based on our Grad School Rockstars community
- Self -Care at the End of the Semester Webinar: Julia offered some great tips for caring for ourselves, our community, and each other in the busiest time of the year. This event also kicked off our new webinar series (check out our 2017 topics)!
Our Grad School Rockstars community offered guidance, accountability, and career coaching for grad students who want to change the world
Our Rockstars worked through topics such as when to let go of dissertation chapters, how disability and chronic pain necessitate redefining productivity in academia, how to find themes across your archival objects, working with difficult or distant faculty advisors, how to identify and ask for the specific kind of feedback you need on a draft, why deadlines and plans are necessary but also how to let them morph and change in the face of family or health issues, and ways to write/grade/teach/survive after the election.
Many of our Rockstars kicked off strong friendships and professional collaborations—we’re always jazzed to see our Rockstar community spur publishing collaborations and activist events!
Several Rockstars earned their PhDs this year and went on to exciting social justice-oriented jobs both within and beyond the academy!
Alexandra revamped our blog so we could bring you posts to help you rock your interdisciplinary career, including
- How to Survive Your First Semester of Grad School
- How to Choose References for a Altac/Postac Job Search
- Brainstorming: Where to Begin When Lacking Inspiration
- How to Travel Well on an Academic Budget
- Finding a Work Space Where You Can Thrive
- How to Trim Down a Chapter or Article That is Too Long
- Performance Tactics to Make Your Academic Presentation Shine
- The Best Podcasts for Interdisciplinary Academics
We worked with 42 clients on 47 projects, on topics including
- Sex classification as transgender discrimination in prisons, education, sports, public accommodations, and identity documents
- Gendered nationalism and the making of East Bengal
- How Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Arab artists are resisting imperialism through public art
- The use of AIDS activist video footage from the 1980s and 1990s in contemporary Hollywood films
- Radical queer and transgender choreographers, dancers, and audiences
- Transnational reverberations of the Spanish Civil War that energized theater productions around the globe
- The history of feminist domestic violence activism in Israel
- Korean diasporic performance art
- An African American feminist playwright’s phenomenal career
- How visual culture shapes cultural ideology and ways of knowing
- Race, gender, and sexuality in medical discourse and military practices
- The role of “big data” in recent health care policy and its threat to patient privacy
And 8 Ideas on Fire clients published their books this year, including these!
Thank you SO much to all of you who supported us, hired us, appeared on or listened to our podcast, wrote for or read our blog, or created your own world-changing social justice work.
We are looking forward to an awesome 2017, thanks to you.