Bringing cultural change into being through art, ideas, and community.
Culturework is a social justice magazine, right?
Well, yes. With a specific focus.
People have been working for a long time to make this world more equal. Laws have changed. The ways we talk about oppression are different. So many individuals have broken through, been the “first.” And yet, oppression persists.
No amount of political change or increased representation can stop oppression if our society is still culturally structured to have some people at the top and some people at the bottom. We can’t stop systemic injustice if we don’t change the underlying cultural values and practices that enable it to happen. Social justice is about more than just changing who is at the top of the hierarchy, it’s about coming up with something better.
Culturework is about thinking critically about culture and using art, dialogue, and relationships to create futures that are not defined by the paradigms of the past. What makes culturework culturework exists in the distinction between decolonization and re-indigenization, between anti-oppressive and liberatory, between tolerance and celebration.
Culturework’s purpose is to provide a space where contributors and visitors can intentionally participate in co-creating the cultural shifts necessary to build a more equitable world.
What makes Culturework Culturework?
What do we mean by the word culture?
We’re talking about the habits of a group of people. To speak metaphorically, it’s the water, not the fish. It’s not what we see, it’s the glasses we’re looking through. The principles, which are often unspoken, that we use to understand ourselves, process the world around us, and set collective priorities.
The cultures we were raised in are often invisible to us. We embody and enact values systems every day without realizing it. We tend to confuse them with facts, not realizing that they are created.
When we become aware of how culture is operating around us, we can make choices about how we want to participate in those operations. The essential project of Culturework is based on the idea that people, families, and communities have a role in co-creating cultures that they belong to. We co-create culture whenever we make art, help others, teach, raise children, do research, organize for change, or write public policy. We co-create culture when we make conscious decisions about the values that are important to us and attempt to live them out from one day to the next.
What role does Culturework play in the larger movement for social justice?
As an art and literary magazine, our work succeeds when it complements the work of others whose work addresses immediate harms caused by systems of oppression. A key function of Culturework is to provide space for people involved in movements for social justice to think about what this movement work means and how it functions. The long term vantage point a magazine can provide opens up space to ask questions like: how does the way we’re doing this embody the values we’re promoting, or are oppressive ways of thinking sneaking in? Is trauma taking the wheel?
Culturework’s focus is oriented toward solutions. Though we recognize critiquing what’s not working has its place, we lean toward uplifting what is working and contemplating possibilities. If the master’s tools won’t dismantle the master’s house (thank you, Audre!), what are the tools that will? Moreover, what would we like to see there instead of the master’s house?
Inspired by the work of scholars like Adrienne Maree Brown, we believe that progress lies in moving towards wholeness, and claiming the human right to experience joy and pleasure. Culturework’s goal is to create a space where fear and outrage are not smothered, denied, or pathologized. Nor are they allowed to commandeer the conversation or trick us into organizing our movements around them. We are striving to embrace messiness and authenticity, cultivating a different kind of online environment that actually invites visitors to slow down and attend to nuance. A respite from performativity and competition. A place where we can face the healthy pain of owning our histories–what we’ve been through, and what we have perpetrated–and reject the toxic pain of shame and denial.
I have a suggestion. How can I share?
We would love to hear it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I get involved?
- Sign up for our newsletter
- Volunteer – Our publication is volunteer run, and we are always looking for behind-the-scenes support. If you a skill (any skill) and would like to lend a hand, let us know at: email@example.com.
- If you are involved with a social justice organization and would like to collaborate on a spotlight, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Donate! Check our PSAG page to make an online contribution.
How can I make a tax-deductible donation?
- You can make a donation through our Public Service Artist Guild page.
What do you look for?
These of the kinds of question we ask while looking at a potential submission:
- What does it seek to transform?
- How will it strengthen our movements and the people inside them?
- How does it make the invisible visible?
- How does it build traditions, ways of thinking, culture?
- How does it increase our capacity for empathy, self-acceptance, and/or courage?
- If the work makes a critique, does it also offer solutions?
What is your editing process like?
Our editing process is highly collaborative. We operate under a trauma-informed editing framework that you can read more about [here].
What media do you publish?
Anything that can be published on a digital platform. This includes fiction, essays, poetry, journalism, photography, digital art, audio recordings, video, music, interviews, visual art, and any form we have yet to think of that can be displayed on the site.
Have more questions? Ask us.