Have a look through the detailed analysis of this selection of daily vlogs.
DAY 1, THE BEGINNING
It was really important for me to make the daily vlogs accessible to lots of different angels. Being chatty and honest about my feelings about the project aimed to encourage fellow angels to feel comfortable enough to start thinking, talking and joining Call Us Angels.
I wanted to make it obvious that I was not an expert here to tell fellow angels what to do. Instead I aimed to become a learner myself, working out the best ways to store trash and find my way through the project.
Sharing how the daily vlogs were going to work invited angels into the simple structure of the project. It became obvious very early on that the daily vlogs would be a 'backstage' view of Call Us Angels, whereas the weekly videos became a way to summarise all that had been achieved within each week.
DAY 3, LEARNING
Making my daily vlogs interactive was essential to Call Us Angels. Using question features on the 'Stories' application of Instagram, rather than just talking about the project, encouraged fellow angels to get more involved with the project. The aim was that if angels were interacting with my daily vlogs, they might feel comfortable enough to eventually make their own wings.
In this particular example, having interactive features became a way for angels to also realise what they did or didn't know about the relationship between gender and the ecological crisis.
As academic Eric Mazur highlights when he converted to interactive lectures, 'students often become emotionally invested in learning [...] and take that ownership of learning' (Anderson, 2014). By using these interactive questions in my daily vlogs, I hoped to get fellow angels not only more invested in the project, but more invested in educating themselves on issues of gender and the ecological crisis.
Anderson, Jill. 'The benefit of interactive learning'. Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2014, https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/14/11/benefit-interactive-learning, (Accessed: 2020).
DAY 13, SPACE
Throughout Call Us Angels, I wanted to focus on the process of making wings out of trash, highlighting the failures and successes of the project to fellow angels along the way. I hope this humanised Call Us Angels and emphasised the idea that if I could learn and re-educate myself about gender and the ecological crisis, all whilst making angel wings, then so could fellow angels.
Like Belgian artist Sarah Vanhee, who also collected her trash for a project entitled Oblivion in 2015, 'I felt like I was drowning in things' (Vanhee, 2015). The stress and emotion the lack of space and amount of trash caused me throughout the project was often unbearable. Using daily vlogs like this to reach out to other artists, activists and litter pickers not only showed how I was struggling with Call Us Angels, but became a way for me to cope.
The daily vlogs and its interactive messaging systems became a way for me to connect with fellow angels and create a two-way relationship for learning, laughing and sharing, not just with our experiences of Call Us Angels, but also our lives in general.
Vanhee, Sarah. 'Oblivion', Sarah Vanhee, 2015, http://www.sarahvanhee.com/oblivion, (Accessed on: 2020).
DAY 20, ACTIVISM, GUILT + EXHAUSTION
According to the philosopher Byung-Chul Han, 'ours is a society that runs on an excess of positivity [...] The violence and exigences of positivity have driven the self to the point of exhaustion' (2015). Exhaustion is all too well known, particularly within activism circles (see my blog on activism and exhaustion).
I have experienced exhaustion during Call Us Angels and the guilt of taking days off to recover. By discussing these issues on daily vlogs, I hoped to normalise the need to rest - even when fighting for causes like an end to climate change and the ecological crisis.
At times I felt I should vlog my 'days off' in order to highlight the importance of self-care, to justify my need to not work on Call Us Angels for a day. However, although the vlogs on Call Us Angels often explored personal topics, there needed to be a way for me to rest and remove my life from the daily vlogs and the project itself.
Han, Byung-Chul. The Burnout Society, Stanford: Stanford U.P., 2015.
DAY 96, PLANNING
Call Us Angels never aimed to be a perfectly polished project. There were always going to be failures and things that didn't go according to plan. By sharing my realisation that I was going to have to change my route for 'A Call to Action', I was not only letting fellow angels see how project decisions were made, but I was also sharing the burden with them - something that really helped me personally as I struggled on to make sure 'A Call to Action' could take place.
Call Us Angels revolves around sharing and learning. By highlighting the practical issues I came across in planning 'A Call to Action', I hoped to emphasise my role as not an expert, but as a facilitator instead. Throughout this project I have not only been learning about gender and the ecological crisis, but I have also been learning how to create an ecofeminist project along the way. Being open to failures and mistakes is the way Call Us Angels has been able to grow and how I've been able to grow as a facilitator. Sharing and discussing these moments with fellow angels, who have always been so supportive and reassuring, became a way to solidify this growth.
DAY 99, ANXIETY
The days leading up to "A Call to Action" were filled with anxiety and stress. I wanted to share these feelings with fellow angels to not only share the burden of the project, but also illustrate the fact that I did not know whether this action was really going to 'work'. I worried that the wings would break. I worried that the public would react badly towards the group of us litter picking. I worried we'd get lost and wouldn't make it to the recycling plant in one piece.
Throughout Call Us Angels, there has always been a part of me that aimed not to trick fellow angels into seeing me as a professional activist or artist or educator - things that I'm very much not! By sharing my anxieties and worries, I hoped to emphasise the fact that I am not a professional or a leader within this project. Instead I wanted to highlight that I am just a woman trying to learn and share information about gender and the ecological crisis through Call Us Angels.
The amount of support I received after posting this vlog, sharing my anxieties, was overwhelming. So many other women, friends and strangers, encouraged me to have confidence and reassured me that no matter what happened, 'A Call to Action' would take place. Having spent 99 days making wings on my own, it finally felt that there was a group of women supporting the project!
DAY 101, NEXT STEPS
During 'A Call to Action', many of my fellow litter picking angels were asking lots of questions about the future of the project. All of them wanted to make litter picking a monthly occurrence, with the potential of turning these sessions into wing making workshops.
From the beginning of this project I knew there would be no 'end point' to the project, but didn't necessarily know how that would feel or look like. After speaking to fellow angels on 'A Call to Action', I realised that this project was not just going to be handed in for my MA in September, and instead would continue to grow and develop in years to come. This has made explaining the project and its next steps to fellow angels particularly tricky; they knew this project was for my MA.
I decided to set up a question and answer session on Instagram after 'A Call to Action' in order to reassure fellow angels that the project would have a life after this action and after my MA. I hoped by answering their questions directly I would be able to remove any confusion surrounding the future of the project (whatever that future may look like).
DAY 105, WRITING
I have always been very honest with fellow angels about my struggles with reading academic research and writing my own academic work. I have also been very open about my dyslexia impacting the way I work and think. In some ways, sharing this felt like a personal apology for not being able to understand and articulate some of the more philosophical texts that could have been useful for Call Us Angels. However, it seemed important to share the overwhelming frustration I feel when trying to tackle issues like ecofeminism and the ecological crisis, particularly when information about these topics are written in overly complicated language or are just not accessible for those who can't access a university library.
I wanted Call Us Angels to be the opposite of this. I wanted to be able to provide fellow angels with a variety of information in a variety of ways, attempting to make this information and these more academic texts as accessible as possible. Only by making these discussions and topics accessible will we be able to diversify the voices helping to solve the relationship between gender and the ecological crisis.