30 Days of Collective Journaling

Advocacy around paid leave has increased during COVID-19. Many workers have needed to quarantine, but because of lack of protections and benefits, they have to worry about lost wages or losing their jobs. Paid leave advocacy has a long history, and the benefits extend beyond this pandemic. We wanted to build on the momentum in this moment around paid leave to offer an opportunity for our community to connect and deepen our analysis through an anti-capitalist and feminist lens. Paid leave is a reproductive freedom issue, because people shouldn't have to choose between caring for their families or keeping their jobs. To that end, we created the #CollectiveJournaling campaign, beginning March 30th, 2020 with daily journaling prompts, and opportunities to reflect and engage with others on social media using #CollectiveJournaling.

 Click here to view a video of our Co-Executive Director, Briana Perry, introducing the campaign. Journaling tips and tricks hereCheck out this reading list to continue learning and thinking about paid family leave and why it's needed. For see research and analysis on paid leave in the U.S. from the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Week One: What is Work?

(1) Situate self and others in the the conversation
(2) Draw connections on the interdependence of our work
(3) Identify more closely with systems of production and the people who produce things, 






Who are you?  How do you define yourself? What are the top 3-5 characteristics, experiences, or identities that have influenced how you see yourself and the world around you?

How do you define work? Ask two people or consult two resources on the definition of work? How do your definitions differ? Why do you think they differ? Has your definition of work changed over the years? 

What is all the work that you do and what makes it work? Write down everything your work entails, including an average day and tasks. Who depends on your work and how do they depend on your work?

Make a list of all the tangible and intangible people, places, conditions, objects, tools, and resources that make your work possible. How do they make it possible?

Look at your list from Thursday and pick one person/item from each category. List out the work that went into making that person, place, condition, object, tool, or resource possible.

Week Two: The Relationship Between Work and Value:

(1) Explain economic value and the ways in which labor is devalued (based on race and sex)
(2) Interrogate economic value as the only indicator of value
(3) Define value outside of capitalist notions






Reflect on this prompt from Day 4…”Make a list of all the tangible and intangible people, places, conditions, objects, tools, and resources that make your work possible. How do they make it possible?” Estimate the value of the work of the person and/or item on the list.

What makes work economically valuable? Whose work is most often devalued? How and why is it devalued? What are some recent examples related to COVID-19?

What are some ways of valuing work outside of dollars and cents? How does that value compare to the economic value?

How is worth and dignity tied to work (capacity to work, work status, and prestige of your work)? How is this affected by class, race, gender, sexuality,  and ability? When did you first notice/realize that work was thought of in this way?

How can we define a person’s value outside of their capacity for work? What about our society would have to change if we saw a person’s value outside of their capacity to work?

Week Three: Family and Work: A False Dichotomy

(1) Broaden definitions of family
(2) Explore concepts of care work and why care work is feminized and devalued
(3) Articulate connections between paid family medical leave policies and anti-capitalism






Who makes up your family?  Can family be more than biology? How does the state define a family? How is the state’s definition limiting to how we actually live our lives? How has the definition of family shifted over time? 

What responsibilities exist in a family? What work is necessary to maintain a family? Who in the family does this work?

Some families involve reproductive labor, which  refers to the care required to reproduce the workforce. It can include literal reproduction, but also childcare, domestic work, preparing meals, etc.. Reflect on what this term means to you. Who does or has done this work in your family?

Most, if not all, families involve care work, which refers to the work required to care for the people around you. This includes life sustaining care (including assisting elderly and disabled people with necessary tasks), emotional support, maintaining familial and community connections, etc.. Reflect on what this term means to you. Who does or has done this work in your family?

Paid family and medical leave seeks to compensate people for at least some of their care work or incapacity to work. How does an anti-capitalist framework help us to better understand and contextualize these policies? What might some anti-capitalist critiques of paid family and medical leave look like?

Anti-capitalism is a political philosophy that opposes capitalism, an economic system based on private ownership of trade and industry for profit.

Week Four: Systems, Community, and Political/Social Movement Care

(1) How has unpaid labor made communities and systems possible
(2) Examine the value of unpaid labor to sustain communities
(3) Examine the value of unpaid labor to political/social movements






List some historic and current examples of things made possible through the use of unpaid labor. What are some ways that historical exploitation of unpaid work continues to the modern day?

What work is needed to maintain communities? Who is primarily responsible for this work? Is this work valued? If so, how? Think about your communities. Who does the work to maintain those communities?

Who does the work necessary to care and maintain our environment? Who does the work to mitigate the harm of climate change on vulnerable communities? Why? How is this work valued? How has current and historical practice devalued that work? How can we resist this devaluation?

List out all of the work needed to sustain a political/social movement? Is this work generally paid or unpaid? Who is generally responsible for that work? What type of work is given more praise and why?  

How does the work of maintaining our localities rely on people outside of them and our country? How do we value or devalue that labor? How can we work to be in solidarity with these people?

Week Five: Systems and Transformation:

(1) Examine other systems and ways to envision a world without capitalism
(2) Imagine possibilities of value and work outside of a capitalist system 
(3) Reflect on the process and create ongoing commitments for change



Wednesday (4/29)

Thursday (4/30)

*More than 30 days but we wanted to end on May Day!*

What some ways that other countries or cultures value labor differently than we do in the United States? What is interesting or notable about these differences? 

Does paid leave challenge the structure of Capitalism or does it uphold it? Why or why not? What makes a policy “anti-Capitalist”? 

How can we reimagine the relationship between value and work in our everyday lives? 

What changes can we make at the system level to address and resist capitalism? 

What are you taking with you from this exercise? What commitments can you make to yourself and your community to resist capitalism?


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