In Real Time: Society Questioning Itself
What are the shifts taking place now in real time—ideologically, experientially, practically—that will continue to have ripples for years and generations to come? What narratives are competing in this moment? What “new forms” might parade as progressive but reproduce the same oppressive, dominant power structures that they purport to replace? What new ideas and habits might actually change material conditions? What stories will win?
This is my subscription newsletter, Sarah Shourd (@Sshourd), which will consist of reflections, analysis and reporting from a journalist, storyteller and survivor of solitary confinement about how society is questioning itself during the duration and aftermath of the corona pandemic.
Much of my reporting, narrative and playwriting over the last ten years has been about prison. A central focus of this blog is what I believe may prove to be one of the biggest carceral moments in history—how releasing thousands of prisoners across the country, or the tragic consequences of failing to do so, has laid bare the assumption that prisons make us safer and provoked a moment of reckoning by challenging the people who run them to take action to prevent mass death. You can read more in an op-ed I wrote last week. Some topics and themes I will explore are:
Resilience: How this moment requires us to do more than just survive.
Quality of Life: What new and old habits, beliefs and priorities are emerging or being reinforced that might actually stick?
The Nuclear Family: Why non-traditional care structures work better.
Safety Net: What would our society look like if we continued to put the most vulnerable at the center?
Climate: What can an invisible virus teach us about the climate crisis?
Incarceration and Policing: How guards, wardens, sheriffs and district attorneys across the U.S. are acknowledging our collective fate.
Thinking Beyond and Decarceration: What do we need to change in order to keep people out of prison?
Health Care: How can we make sure nurses continue to run the show?
Our Divisions: The ways this moment is and isn’t polarizing and how inequities are exaggerated during a pandemic.
I am going to work hard on this newsletter. I will conduct interviews, synthesize readings, be vulnerable and dig really deep. I will do my best to write from a place of vision, reflection and grounded hope.
In order to do that, I need enough people to subscribe make this project sustainable. I’m going to use this time to write a minimum of one post a week and facilitate a biweekly Zoom conversation because I want to shape this conversation together.
In the spirit of both generating abundance and being real, I’m asking you for a $5 monthly subscription. Please consider paying for your own plus a few extra subscriptions that I will gift on your behalf to a formerly incarcerated or low-income reader. If you are one of those people please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All posts will eventually be made public.
As a pre-subscription gift I am including a piece I co-created with Harriet Beinfield (author and co-founder of Chinese Medicine Works) to help you navigate the new social demands we're facing as a community, and a quick, reliable fact sheet about COVID-19 to help us stay safe. Please download and share these resources freely and widely. They can be downloaded here and here.
This is not a time to white-knuckle through this pandemic in hopes of returning to the status quo, this is a moment for transformation. The ideas we’re giving birth to can help us shape a better future.
Once you’ve subscribed, every new edition of In Real Time will go directly to your inbox, so you won’t have to worry about missing anything. Sign up now so you don’t miss the first issue.
Sarah Shourd. I investigate urgent stories and tell them in creative ways. Theater. Print Journalism. Podcasting. Graphic Novels. JSK Stanford Fellow 2019.