Inspirations of 2020 (with love, from the Steering Committee)

We asked some of our Shred Contributors to share with us the people, activities and communities that inspired them in 2020. Maybe there’s something for you too.

shred's steering committee, in a zoom meeting

shred’s steering committee

First up: Patrick Johnson-Whitty

  1. Bolivia’s MAS party

Seeing Evo Morales return to Bolivia was an inspiring reminder that the forces of American imperialism can be beaten. Sometimes, the good guys win.

  1. Angela Davis

I read Women, Race and Class for the first time this summer, and I devoured it. There are a lot of lessons for me to learn from Davis’ intersectional analysis of injustice, and it’s something that I will be coming back to frequently as my work continues.

  1. Shred

I am so glad that I connected with the brilliant minds of my fellow Shredders this year! It gave me an outlet that allowed me to channel my anxiety and uncertainty into something that is both creatively and intellectually fulfilling. I am so excited to see what we will all do together in the coming year.

Jessica Aszodi

  1. “The pivot”

Folks in the marginal, precarious and non-normative zones are much better at the pivot than their more comfortable counterparts, many of whom have dealt with the challenges of this year in less than graceful ways. This year I was repeatedly inspired by some incredible pivots. If I had to think of one, it might be the amazing re-group of femme-forward queer party organizers “Lecken” who pivoted from party organizing to providing their community with new, critical tools for their community in a time of loneliness and deprivation.

2.  Online conferences

I don’t propose an end to in-person meetings, but I do think we travel too much for  things that require far less of a carbon footprint. This year I attended a boat-load of online conferences, performances and meetings.  One talk that stood out would be Amalle Dublon’s talk with Johanna Hedva and Amelia Groom: “Lived Experience auto-correcting to loved experience” at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICI).

3. Podcasts

This year provided more time to listen to and make podcasts. My favourite new entry was “Thrilled to announce”, an incredibly brave new podcast about labour, solidarity, race, ethics and the hard to reform conservative world of opera. 

I ate up every episode in the catalogue of Philosophize This, reconnecting with old ideas in the light of new times; allowing myself to be changed while exploring previously glossed-over territories.

 If I had to choose one favourite episode it would be “Tactical Hope” from  “How to survive the end of the world”  featuring the founders of Queer Nature talking about their wilderness education programs & practice. I spent most of the episode in tears, listening to them talk about ways of knowing and being in nature as techniques for healing, feeling, and building connectedness in an intricate, entangled and seemingly impervious more-than-human ecology.

Eli Namay

  1. Union of Musicians & Allied Workers (UMAW)

I’ve been guilty of being pretty dark on music and art making under capitalism. It’s difficult to deal with how the commodification of art and music incentivises people to be competitive and to practice based on what will sell rather than what’s most emotionally and spiritually fulfilling, all as capitalism puts an increasing crunch on cultural communities. Seeing musicians who are committed to grappling with the complexities of these problems and not fall back into conservative union tropes of narrow minded short term wins has been super inspiring to be a part of. UMAW, Shred Magazine, along with all the great creative organizing work I’ve seen my comrades putting together have all been invaluable beacons of light for me in 2020.

  1. Journaling

My God. Being able to write on your own experience is invaluable. I’ve gotten into writing about the most weird and banal details of my day-to-day life. This was inspired by my various connections to folks who are journaling giants (Ruby, Alex, Jessica, and others), but it was pushed to this new level of detail because of a conversation I had with Jack Langdon about one of my heroes, Anthony Braxton, and his insanely detailed journaling practices (going into detail about what he ate, etc etc.). It sounds a bit ridiculous, but it’s really helped me. 

  1. Allan Holdsworth

Allan Holdsworth is fucking SIIIIIIICK! Since 2018 I’ve been going through regular long periods of listening to nothing but Allan Holdsworth. Super healing. Really, after a period of faux radical aesthetic snobbery, for the last several years I’ve allowed myself to really enjoy stuff in a super earnest way. This has been even more important for me this year. There are parallels here between sexuality and spirituality that we’ll be presenting in fleshed out versions soon enough. 

Jack Langdon

  1. People who are sick of the bullshit: 2020 was a year where many people became fed up with the usual bullshit and did things about it. The people of Minneapolis and many American cities were sick of police brutality and institutionalized racism and they did something about it. The people of Bolivia were sick of imperial aggression and coup attempts and they did something about it. The people of Chile were sick of the rising costs that working class people needed to survive on and they did something about it. The farmers and workers of India were sick of austerity in the face of crisis and did something about it. There are many people who are still riding high on the normal bullshit, but those who are done with it and ready to do stuff to change it should be honored. Those people brought moments of hope and inspiration to this incredible shitshow of a year.
  2. The people who live near me in rural Vermont that like to make music together: This year has made making music with other people very difficult, but in the few instances that I have been able to do so in a safe manner, it has been incredibly nourishing. I’m grateful and inspired by the folks in my area who’ve jammed outside, in empty churches, and in barns with me over the past year.
  3. My family, friends, and people I have met this year: I have learned a lot about myself and others this year and I am inspired by the wisdom I have been able to witness from the people I love and from new people in my life. In certain moments, I have seen such profound selflessness from complete strangers. Even though these are often small gestures, they give me hope that someday something bigger will grow.

Ruby Pinto

  1. Nature – Dirt, mushrooms, trees, rain, bacteria, decay, seeds, flowers, air and sun. My garden full of tomatoes and pumpkins and beans and herbs and worms and bees and even the deer and rabbits that found their way past the fence to chomp the heads off of cabbage plants well before they matured. My own body, as an animal and an extension of this planet. Growing again and again, putting out new leaves and dropping old ones. Giving and receiving in cycles, moving through seasons, expanding and contracting. I am so thankful to be a part of this earth! 

2. @TheNapMinistry – Examining the liberating power of naps, exploring rest as a form of resistance and reparations. “I’ve broken the code and broke the chains of exhaustion as my legacy.” This year I slept to recover and to dream, and to reset my nervous system after a lifetime of hypervigilance and performance.  I slept for my ancestors who were enslaved or coerced into far too much labor. Beautiful things emerged from the space rest provided, including Shred! 

3. Anyone who participated in any care work, mutual aid and protest – Simply put, we are powerful, we are worthy, we deserve joy and safety and we all have many roles to play in our collective liberation. 2020 magnified the power of community, brought new light to the importance of care and propelled so many to dedicate their energy to building something better. Even our conflicts have been fertile and informative. Here’s to big shifts and deeper roots to support our growth.

#shredmag #Goodbye2020 #thingsthatinspired