ETA: The fundraiser is actually over. Here’s their Patreon page instead, so you can be a recurring contributor if you’d like.
I’m sure you all know Sally Strange, who frequents these parts and is a staple of the commentariat even here. She and a number of other bloggers are building a blog network to represent some classes of voice that don’t often get heard, and asked me to throw in what meagre support I have to offer. And they have already — before launching — met with an overt attempt at scuttling their plans.
8chan, where the nastiest parts of chan culture re-settled after even 4chan started turning their noses up at their inhumane doxxing, SWATting and harassment, got wind and are already in the process of attacking the Indiegogo campaign and the bloggers for whom it would benefit.
They deserve our support and a shot at making their voices heard. They deserve the chance to speak, rather than to be silenced by this hate mob who attack them “for the lulz”.
Here’s Sally’s plea.
Sally Strange and Burning Bridges: Why You Should Support a New Blog Network
Well, this is strange.
Yeah, I know. Strange, haha. Aren’t I strange. You’d probably be surprised at how many internet trolls have thought it would be clever to try to insult me by calling me strange. I know I was. I mean, I’m basically sitting here saying, yes, I acknowledge my strangeness.
I didn’t pick the name at random. Strange is my normal (and Sally was my namesake grandmother’s nickname). Strangeness has been a constant throughout my life. From growing up isolated in the country with hippie parents in rural upstate New York, to attempting to live “off the land” in my delusional attempt to make their dream a reality during my 20s, to graduating college at age 31, to being the lone woman on many a construction work site, I’ve gotten used to being the odd one out.
Right now the strangeness is coming from the stomach-dropping commitment to believing that my stories are worth telling to the world. That my skills would be up the task. That people will want to read them, and the stories of my comrades who are planning to share their stories, art, videos, and more on this new blogging network called Burning Bridges Blogs.
This past winter was rough for me and many of my friends. I was fired from my last job essentially in retaliation for whistleblowing, though I was not in fact the whistleblower. I was commiserating with my friends, many of whom also experience poverty on a regular basis, thanks to being laid off, single parenthood, escaping abusive relationships, disabilities and chronic illness, mental health issues, and societal bigotries such as racism, trans-antagonism, and misogyny. We all write regularly and have many other talents and skills, and we were wishing that we could translate our regular output on social media and our private blogs into regular revenue which, if not sufficient to pay the rent, would at least help tide us over during the rough times. And so the idea of Burning Bridges was formed.
The name comes from the idea of lighting your way with the bridges you burn, rather than fearing the flames. And maybe next time using a better, less flammable design, if a bridge is really what we want.
We want Burning Bridges, the blog and the publishing company, to further the trend of marginalized people gaining a voice through the horizontal structure of the internet.
Burning Bridges will include Sunflower Punk, a homeless, single mom with depression from NYC by way of Puerto Rico. She’ll be writing about racism, class, gender and mental illness, and also Sailor Moon.
There’s Kassiane, who’s basically a mythical warrior elf shooting flaming arrows at ableism and other forms of bigotry. She was one of the earliest of early adopters of the neurodivergence movement.
Angie Jackson is a reproductive rights activist and lesbian single mom with arthritis who was raised in a faith healing cult, who gained notoriety when she live-tweeted her abortion in 2010.
Alyssa and Ania are a lesbian couple and blogging about, respectively, transgender liberation and minorities in STEM, and chronic illness and medical marijuana. There are writing examples and videos up from all these and more at our Indiegogo site. You can peruse my abortive attempts at blogging at my wordpress journal, which I plan on updating with this.
As for me, I plan on talking about climate change and environmental justice. That’s going to be a weekly installment. As a person with a fair amount of privilege (able-bodied, white, cis, educated), I have resources to be able to pay attention to this and talk about it to other people. Climate change is a feminist issue; the people who will be affected the most are disproportionately, as always, women and people of color. Getting beyond greenhouse gases, it’s clear that our captains of industry have made a policy of seeking out poor and disorganized communities in which to site infrastructure with the worst environmental side effects; for example, garbage incinerators (a fight against an incinerator in upstate NY was the seed for the current anti-fracking movement), dumps, untreated brownfields, mining, etc., because such communities lack the capacity to resist such projects the way middle class white communities would (and did, in the case of upstate New York).
Second, on a more personal note: when I was in my early 20s, I traveled a lot and did some cool weird stuff. I also kept journals. Lots and lots of journals.
I plan on transcribing my journals online, with commentary. This is going to be interesting because I haven’t really read these in about a decade, and I’m sure that what I can consciously recall about those years is but a sliver of what I can actively recall now, about ten years later. Now, I wouldn’t inflict the tortured musings and bad poetry (there’s not much, I promise) of an insecure young woman who’s in denial about her sexuality for no reason. The thing is, at the time, I sincerely believed in alternative woo–chakras, “energy”, auras, past lives, tarot, psychic phenomena, astrology, that sort of thing. My journey to skepticism about these things brought me to meet some fascinating characters, and to explore some beautiful places. I hope to bring some of these alive for you, while providing insight into what it’s like to leave, not religion, but a sort of vague lefty spirituality.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and the only writing I’ve gotten paid for thus far is technical manuals and press releases. This is exciting and a little nerve-wracking. So please! Support Burning Bridges! Spread the word if you can’t donate. The fundraiser is going to pay for domain registration, graphic design, server & server set-up. There are a few fun incentives, including satirical homonormative rewrites of pop songs by Dirty Nerdy, and I have promised to personally crochet a toy cephalopod (like this one that I made for my nephew) for anyone who donates over $150. My summer is looking super busy, so I’m half hoping nobody takes me up on it.
Update: between when I started this article, and when I went to publish it, our fundraiser was found by 8chan, which, if you’re unaware, is where the pedophiles and doxxers went once they got too extreme for 4chan. Already several of our contributors have had their blogs and videos torn apart in their message boards, with horribly misogynist, homophobic, ableist, and transphobic commentary. For me, it’s a minor nightmare. For some of our contributors, who are writing under their real names, it’s terrifying. We knew something like this would probably happen, but personally I’m a bit surprised that they glommed onto us before our fundraiser is even finished. I guess we’re probably doing something right. So if nothing else, you should donate. Just to spite them.
I will disagree, albeit mildly, with that last point. I donated not to spite the Channers who would antagonize diversity off of the internet just because it’s diversity, who choose their “lolcow” targets based on who’s the most vulnerable and the least deserving of hatred but who would be most likely to display the damage for their own entertainment. Whose empathy is so atrophied and whose social behaviour so impossibly objectively evil that they honestly think hurting people is a game, just notches on their belt, as though they are agents of social Darwinism and they are doing society good by savaging the weakest members.
I donated because I honestly believe in helping give voice to the otherwise voiceless, in levelling the playing field so that those people with disadvantages have a chance to advocate for themselves on equal footing. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in advocating for various social justice causes in meatspace and on the internet, it’s that diversity is its own reward — the benefits of a pluralistic society make themselves plain wherever it exists. People who already have a voice, like those channers trying to undercut the network because the bloggers involved are different, shouldn’t get to decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t. And their haranguing those they perceive weak and different “for the lulz” has but one logical outcome — a pax romanus and empathy vacuum of cis white heteronormative culture dominated by people exactly them-shaped.
If this network is funded and succeeds and thrives despite the roiling hate mob, perfect. If it sticks a thumb in the eyes of the hate mob, that’s icing, not the cake.