projectQUESTION (lonnie ray atkinson) (projectquestion)
I spent a long time feeling helpless about how to make the world a better place and coming up with excuses as to why I wasn’t doing more. Hoping I could find a way to make an effective contribution, I turned to songwriting as a form of activism. Free to the public, this work is intended not only as a vehicle for protest, but also as an organizing tool.
A lot of artists are afraid of being labeled “political.” Not me.
I want you to know it.
These songs are political. Every damn one of them.
A culture for our movement:
We say we want “a better world,” but the question then arises – what would a better world look like? And while this question automatically triggers electric debate over economic and political relations (focusing on the dynamics of race, gender, class, physical ability, etc.), so many of us forget to incorporate the importance of culture into our vision. Likewise, when it comes to strategy, so much of our movement fails to factor in the use of culture.
Since we are asking people to commit time outside of their daily work, we must present a movement that offers those things people need outside of their work lives. We must present a movement with culture.
Aside from work and the material necessities work can provide, a people need art, theater, music, literature, poetry, food and drink, laughter, sports, conversation, sex.
A better world, by definition, should be attractive. Our movement must be attractive. We need a social justice culture. A culture to build our future upon. A culture of both resistance and vision.
If we are serious about our goals, our movement must resemble what we want in a better world. If we are serious about building an effective movement, we need artists, authors, actors, poets, musicians, comedians, playwrights, puppeteers, filmmakers, songwriters, craftspeople, teachers, builders, growers, cooks. We need a culture worthy of our movement.
We need creativity and imagination rooted in a language of principles. A culture that will inspire, provoke, enlighten, and entertain. A culture that will inform our struggle, mourn our losses, and celebrate our victories.
And as our situations change, so will the content of our creative work. Similarly, our cultural identity will not be a homogenous one but a human one. An identity rich with diverse tastes but shared values.
Reflecting this diversity, contributions may at times be offensive, sappy, punk, corny, dissonant, pop, profound. And though contributors may not always be the most gifted, if they are thoughtful and honest, humble and hardworking, they will surely help lay the groundwork for building that better world.
We need a culture for our movement. I want to contribute to that culture.
I hope you will find a way to contribute as well.
You can get in where you fit in, but get in.