Can Stories Turn Texas Blue? Digital Media & HB2
Citizen activism is at an all time high, using digital tools such as Twitter, Storify, and Vine to immediately telegraph and signal boost stories from the ground to the cloud. In 2013, the Texas Legislature held two special sessions on one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the US. Initial hearings were held and citizens were cut off from being able to speak. Because of this, thousands of pro-choice Texas citizens travelled to the Capitol to testify. While the stories were told in person, and by Wendy Davis during a filibuster in the first session, digital media elevated the testimonies to a national and global level. The use of storytelling technology, old and new alike, allowed cititzens to change the very nature of the debate and call attention in a bold new way to how politics can work at the state level, all while invigorating a brand new generation of activists.
Jessica Luther is a writer, journalist, and reproductive justice activist.
She spends a lot of time on Twitter, most recently (and most famously) during the month where abortion rights activists fought back against horrific new legislation. Her handle is @scATX. Her activism this summer was profiled in the Texas Observer and the Dallas Morning News, and at The American Prospect and Ms. Magazine's blog. She wrote about it most recently at The End Of Austin: "Making Granite Shake" (http://endofaustin.com/2013/12/19/making-granite-shake/).
Her writing has been published in The Texas Observer and at The Guardian, The Atlantic, Salon, Sports On Earth, Sports Illustrated, and RH Reality Check.
She writes and podcasts about sports and culture at Power Forward (http://pwrfwd.net). Her main blog is http://jessicawluther.com.
She loves tennis, romance novels, history, and makes exceptionally tasty biscuits.
Julie Gillis is a writer, producer, and speaker focused on social justice, civil rights, and human sexuality. She is a professional with over 15 years experience in theater production, event coordination, and organizational facilitation.
Her work has ranged from non-profit arts organizations to higher education, advancement and student affairs, and she has a broad skill set from development, community relations, coaching and mentoring, to performing and improvisational comedy.
She has written for The Good Men Project, Good Vibes Blog, The Austin Chronicle Gay Place Blog, elephant journal and Persephone Magazine. She also is a performer and a co-producer of the popular monthly show, Bedpost Confessions and produced the Austin based Ladies Are Funny Festival. Julie uses theater and storytelling to bridge the space between social justice advocacy and the everyday.
Her personal focus and passion is with LGBTQ, women’s rights and sexual education health. She believes in sexual literacy and education for all, and that sexual rights are human rights which should be honored and respected.
She serves as a member of the UT Pride and Equity Faculty And Staff Association and a volunteer for the UT Gender and Sexuality Center and the UT Interpersonal Violence Committee. A parent who has served in public schools in Austin, she is also an advocate for comprehensive sex education.
She fights against sexual abuse and assault and she supports the intersections and impact of social justice and the arts in many arenas such as race, class, age and ability, equal rights for workplace benefits, marriage equality and safety in schools and the workplace.