Each week, you’ve gotten to see the work our incredible activists are doing to free the vaccine. This week, we’d like to introduce you to two of them: Dannie Snyder of Austin, Texas, and Stacy Early of Memphis, Tennessee! Dannie and Stacy are members of the Coyote-5 squad, which is comprised of activists across the American South.
A musician, theater practitioner, filmmaker, and poet, Dannie is also the recipient of Free The Vaccine’s very prestigious “Best Costume on Video Call” award. (We like to be goofy on calls, what can I say?)
An animal activist and artist with five rescue dogs, Stacy brings equal parts compassion and creativity to her work with the Free The Vaccine campaign! (One of our most active threads in the forum, by the way, is for participants to post pictures of their pets… as it should be.)
Now that you’ve met Dannie and Stacy, read on for what they’ve learned so far and what they’d like to share with fellow activists! This portion of their interviews have been condensed slightly for ease of reading.
What made you decide to join the Free The Vaccine campaign?
Dannie: When I got the email to join the Free The Vaccine campaign, it was kind of a no-brainer. I mean I was alone, in quarantine, freaking out a little bit, and then I got this email that was like, Hey, instead of freaking out, why don’t you do this thing that’s really productive, and you could be helping yourself and the whole world? Like I mentioned before, I was really intimidated by access to medicines, it was very outside of my comfort zone, so I just knew—yes, this is your calling… And one thing that’s great about the campaign is they’re really flexible. They totally understand that life is life, and because we’re [organized into] different squads and different Labs, we can designate responsibilities based off of our skill sets. It’s always very clear what the expectations are, what our deadlines are, and there’s no judgment when we have to ask for help.
What’s your most unique skill that’s come in handy during this campaign?
Stacy: I think one of the most useful skills I have put to use in this is my persistence. You can do all the research you want and spend time planning and do all these projects and then the people that you’re trying to approach or target might still not get back to you… but if you can just be persistent and have fun with it, it’s all completely worthwhile.
What’s the most useful lesson you’ve learned from your work so far?
Stacy: The most useful lesson I’ve learned in all of this is to really research the people you want to approach, or your targets. I didn’t realize that getting a sense of their interests and personality would make such a difference, but it really can when you’re trying to approach them creatively and not just with a normal letter or normal email.
Dannie: I would say the most useful lesson in this campaign has been understanding the pipeline from scientific research to medication and the vaccine. Understanding that pipeline, and then having the vocabulary for that pipeline. I think there are a lot of liberal and left campaigns where it’s cool and hip to support them, and people jump on these bandwagons before really doing the research and thinking critically… With access to medicines, I had to give myself a few weeks to just research, and I was able to take all of that [material provided by the campaign], and figure out: with my background, within this pipeline, where can I be the most effective?
What’s the coolest idea you’ve gotten or skill you’ve learned from another participant?
Dannie: As far as ideas about how to target people, how to really inspire them to change, the idea that I’ve been most drawn to is the idea of craftivism. I’m totally about artivism—art and activism—in fact, I’ve just spent two years getting a master’s in theories about art and activism, and now I’m finally getting to apply those theories. But I had kind of underestimated the idea of crafting, the idea of making something unique and precious for a target specifically. So instead of making a banner for the whole world to see, making a scarf for one person, and embroidering on it a message. I’m using an example from Sarah Corbett, I think she’s the one who coined this term. I think of all the times people made me a gift and how special it made me feel, and now I’m doing it for [our targets]. I think of my work in restorative justice, and this is totally tapping into that, tapping into empathy, and how to take the anger that we feel in activism and how to transform it and make it fuel. Right now I’m making a gift box for my targets, it’s going to be gift-wrapped, it’s going to have bows and color, it’s going to have things in it which I’ve made personally, which I can show you…
At this point in the video, Dannie showed off a beautiful mask she’s made. Here’s a picture of her wearing it!
Stacy: Way too hard to choose! This is an amazing group of 300 creatives, activists, scientists from around the world. Just the fact that all these people have come together for one project is pretty amazing. The willingness to brainstorm and help each other out, contribute, and hop into one group when they have a skill that that group can use… I’m pretty impressed with absolutely everyone and feel really honored to be able to work with them. For a specific project though, if I had to pick one I think it would be the “Jolene” song parody. I live in Tennessee, so a little partial. But also, I liked how that came together. People in so many different states are working on that, and again, no one knew each other before. So that’s pretty amazing!