It was a tough year, but we adapted. In fact, we flourished.
We started 2021 with our annual Book Party, where we “Zoom-celebrated” 13 books by members published in this second pandemic year. Our keynote speaker, Allissa Richardson, author of Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones, and the New Protest Journalism, made the case for iPhones as powerful tools for holding civil rights abusers accountable.
We were limited to meeting via Zoom but doing so allowed us to connect with more members, since 75% live outside greater Boston; 25% live in Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.
This year’s highlights:
- We held an eye-opening “Judging a Book by Its Cover” webinar, drawing members from around the country, led by Jim Kates of Zephyr Press, also a Steering Committee member.
- We held an enlightening “Stop the Rejection: Self-Publish” webinar, organized and hosted by Willie Wideman Pleasants, who shared her expertise along with Tim Sheard (NY) and Ken Wachsberger (Michigan).
- We held a Zoom discussion with National Writers Union VP David Hill on issues to be decided at the triennial Delegates Assembly.
- During the Zoomed three-day Assembly, our four elected delegates — co-chair Jeanne Cosmos, Barbara Mende, and first-timers John McDaid and Willie Wideman Pleasants — participated in various committee meetings: Legislative, Black Lives Matter, Immigration, and Women’s. Cosmos moderated the Women’s meeting and updated the 2018 survey on the concerns of women in writing/journalism/publishing, with the aim of sending it to the membership. Other issues discussed and debated: the union’s service agreement with the Graphics Communications Conference of the Teamsters Union and the Freelance Solidarity Project (our digital medium division).
- We kept our members informed with our monthly Update e-newsletter, edited by Barbara Mende, who also keeps track of our finances and posts news on our website, and copyedited by Sue Schopp.
- And we had fun: Our monthly “Writers Night In” social-networking Zoom drew members around New England who shared their writing projects and challenges, and swapped resources.
- We have new leadership: Jeanne Cosmos was elected as co-chair with Barbara Beckwith. Long-term co-chair Charles Coe continues on our nine-person Steering Committee and moderates NWU-Book, the union’s popular national listserv. Chris Kenneally stepped down after many years; he continues to serve as a Facebook administrator.
- Our chapter funds went largely unspent because of COVID. We did, however, donate $200 to each of three organizations whose missions dovetail with ours: Native American Journalists Association, Mass Poetry, and 826 Boston (writing/publishing/tutoring program for K-12 Boston students). And we are offering up to five low-income members $100 each toward the cost of attending a writers’ workshop or conference.
In 2022 we can do more. Our ideas so far: Support unionizing efforts (Starbucks, gaming, Harvard U workers)? Speak out against book-banning? Speak to immigration issues? Join marches for racial justice? Work for parity in the journalism area? Connect with younger writers via social media? Offer leadership opportunities to members who want to be active on issues they care about? If that’s you, contact your editor.