Resistance Guide: A Gift and a Struggle

January 22nd, 2018

Last year, during my senior year of college at Occidental, I was tasked with writing a senior thesis— a capstone research project that served as a graduation requirement for the Urban and Environment Policy program. I wanted this project to not just be for the sake of graduating only to be read by my professors and maybe another fellow student, but to actually be useful and advance the goals of a movement. The topic I had already picked was about electoral politics and progressive political parties, but right as we were about to buckle down to begin working on them, the election happened, and I changed my project slightly to basically looking at how the Left could learn from the Tea Party movement. Even though I had found a way to channel the urgency of the election into my senior thesis, I was still constantly frustrated by the thought of it being read by just a couple of people only to collect dust in the department’s office.

In the end, I think my hunch was right. But that’s ok! Because since June I have been a Fellow here at the Center, where I’ve primarily working on the Resistance Guide which is the actualization of what I hoped my senior thesis would be. It’s a book written for the thousands of newly activated and agitated people who are getting involved in social movements for the first time in their lives since the Trump election, using the strategies of the Tea Party as a model. It’s like a shorter, lighter version of This is an Uprising, tailored to the current political moment. It’s for my mom, it’s for your mom, and all the people who are angry about Trump but don’t know what to do about it. I couldn’t ask for a better project to work on right after graduating.

I started working during the last few stages of the writing process. Because of the urgency we felt around getting the Guide out as quickly as possible, we decided to forgo a publisher and self-publish. This was great in many ways. So much control! Setting our own deadlines! Picking exactly who’s input and collaboration we wanted! But it also brought many challenges. All of the things that a publisher would normally take care of fell on us— things like design, printing, and distribution. It felt like every week there was a new set of obstacles. But the end product, which is available for free as a PDF at guidingtheresistance.org and as a hardcopy on Amazon, is really beautiful, and I’m so proud of it. We learned so much by doing this process on our own from start to finish, and I hope that the hundreds (or thousands) of people who read the Resistance Guide learn a lot too. If only I could get my mom to be one of them!

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