To all good things

goodbye 2020

Good morning friends,

When this project started we were all fire and fear and outrage and hope. Today, at the year’s end, I find myself craving silence. Maybe you do too.

But still I’m writing, because I want you to know that in this brutal, painful, isolating year, you are what has kept me going. As this year comes to an end, I want to thank you for sharing yourselves with us.

In the midst of solitude you spoke truthfully. In the midst of silence you bore witness. In times of exhaustion you gave us joy, and good humor, and hope.

We can’t know what next year will bring. But I am more hopeful because it has you in it. I believe we will build a better future. I am grateful to be doing this work with you.

Wishing you peace this week, and love and community in the year to come.

Hannah for the VFC

no tears yet, but they are coming.

— September 15, 2020

This year in feelings

How are you feeling this week?

Our *extremely unscientific chart* shows some of your feelings over the past semester. You have consistently been anxious and drained, but we have also seen space for determination and hope. | Why are the numbers so much higher in November? Because that’s when we started allowing you to have more than one feeling at a time.

I feel so completely and utterly drained and it is only 10am on a Tuesday. I don't know how this can continue.

— October 6, 2020

Visionary Futures Collective action roundup

This is not a list of accomplishments.

It’s an accumulation of acts of resistance, made in and for the higher ed community in response to governmental failure and institutional violence. These are some ways we took care together.

  • The VFC Campus Reopening Project: when campuses threatened to reopen their doors for the fall semester, the VFC took action to understand what kinds of protections were being put in place, and how staff, students, and faculty were being put at risk.

  • Tracking the Student Experience: Student newspapers document the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on learning and labor across the United States. We collected data on student reporting and created visualizations like the #CovidCampus Timelines and the Student Outrage Map.

  • The Academic Job Market Support Network: A repository containing sample job materials and resources for PhDs seeking academic and alt-ac jobs, plus resources for supervisors.

  • Academic Tarot: Academic Tarot evolved out of the VFC's efforts to create playful, regenerative spaces and compassionate communities to support workers in academia experiencing the upheaval of the COVID era.

  • Caregiver Survey: The Caregivers Survey is a VFC effort to bring visibility to working conditions for caregivers on campuses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Just so many of these feelings all at once.

— November 3, 2020

Dear Coyote & Bones

What is our role in building a just and compassionate pandemic university?

To answer this question, we drew three cards representing where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.

Where We’ve Been: The President

The President is the first character we encounter on the journey which is the Major Arcana, so it’s fitting that we would draw this card to represent where we’ve been. As the Master of Illusion, the figure on this card can represent both internal and external forces that use material and spiritual tools to wield power.

This card tells us that in the past year, we may have been bound up by feelings of fear and helplessness created by those we perceived as holding power over us. Externally, whether we were held captive by a family member, a boss, or a President, we have been subject to the violent abuse of intuition, material, actions, passions, and information. We may also have been held back by internal forces that prevented us from seeing what was possible.

But we have also been the President this past year. Though we may have felt small and afraid, this card tells us we already had all the tools we needed to manifest our own reality. And in ways that may have felt minor, but were nevertheless impactful, we did.

Where We Are: The Job Market Reversed

The Job Market, like the more traditional Wheel of Fortune, represents a state of perpetual change during which everything can come around again. This card marks the halfway point on our journey through the Major Arcana, and it indicates that we have every possibility behind and before us.

We can’t think of a more accurate card to have drawn for our current situation. As this year comes to an end, this card reminds us that we are still in the middle of Pandemic University. It also reminds us to send love to everyone who is actually on the job market right now.

Reversed, this card confirms that we have encountered a downturn. (We know, duh). This can be a difficult place to be for those, like us, who prefer to plot the future exactly. But this card offers hope: though we may not feel in control, we are called on to trust that what is coming will be for the best.

Our task is to find ways to break the rollercoaster of negative thoughts as we place our faith in the future.

Where We’re Going: The ABD Reversed

The ABD, which is based on the traditional Hermit card, is a card of isolation and of introspection. When drawn reversed, this card signals that we may be feeling forced into solitude by circumstances beyond our control.

Though we may not have chosen our isolation, The ABD calls on us to use this time to draw our attention inward. Now may be a good time to step away from current challenges for a day, an hour, or even five minutes. (We promise, they’ll be there when you come back.) Remember that The ABD retreats from the world to return with new wisdom.

Reversed, the ABD is also a reminder not to self-isolate further than is necessary. During this time of solitude, this card reminds us to use our time away from our community in order to build wisdom and internal strength. But it also suggests that even as the pandemic continues, our time of isolation may be coming to an end. We are heading into a future that will offer opportunities for new connections. Take them.