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Jessica Craven Teaches Us to Chop Wood, Carry Water

We started The Passionistas Project out of a deep desire to want to do something meaningful. After years immersed in the world of pop culture, we felt like we needed use our platform in a way that might impact people’s lives. We’re not going to lie. The 2016 election shook us up. We had become way more politically aware and were dipping our toes into being more active but looking back we knew in our hearts that we just didn’t do enough to feel we had an influence on the results. We woke up on November 4, 2016, determined to do more. We started to go to rallies. We signed up for all kinds of information. And, ultimately, we launched The Passionistas Project Podcast with the ardent belief that women needed to hear the empowering stories of other women to inspire them to follow their passions and to understand that we are stronger when we are united and support each other. One of the most significant outlets for change that we discovered on our path these last few years is Jess Craven’s daily newsletter Chop Wood, Carry Water. Each day, Jess sends out a list of totally doable action items like calling your Senators or emailing your Congress people. She makes it so easy that it really takes about five minutes of your time each day. And not only do you feel like you’re making an impact, you really are. Here’s an excerpt from our interview with Jess. PASSIONISTAS: It's an honor for us to. What's the one thing you're most passionate about? JESSICA: I am an action advocate. I find that action is the antidote to despair. And that it is the one thing that I need to be doing if I want to see change. So I guess action, and also getting others to act I'm very, very passionate about sort of, encouraging others to do this work because I think it's important not just for our country, but for our own personal wellbeing PASSIONISTAS: To that end, talk about Chop Wood, Carry Water and what it is. Explain it to people who might not know. JESSICA: What I try to do with Chop Wood, Carry Water, and I started doing this right after Trump was elected because everybody was so shell shocked and so upset. And I guess I tend to be the kind of person who, when something like that happens, I want to find a solution or something to do. I'm someone who needs to do something. So in the very, very beginning, I started realizing like we should make, there's some calls that we should make. And I started making calls and also sort of researching around to see what calls needed to be made and what groups were talking about it. And I would then turn around and sort of send a quick email to a handful of family and friends and, and they seem to find it useful and they seem to want to make the calls. And, and then I started including a little, a little bit of like a pep talk, just a little bit of like been through some stuff as we all haven't and I've found some tools for dealing with difficulties. And I just would share those as part of the email. Like, you know, when I went through my horrible divorce, my father said to me, I mean, this is where Chop Wood, Carry Water comes from is, is, is that my dad told me that phrase when I was going through a divorce, I don't know, 15, 20 years ago at this point, but I said, “How am I going to get through this? This is, I feel like I'm never going to get through this.” And he said, “You're just going to chop wood, carry water. And one day it'll be over.” So that's why the newsletter is called Chop Wood, Carry Water. And, and I told people that story, a number of times in the beginning, and it sort of turned into this thing where every day people would ask to be added to the list, or someone would say, I have a friend who wants to be added to your list. And I became really obsessed with following politics. Yeah. Following everything that was happening, subscribing to every single newsletter that had actions for people to take. And in the beginning, there were a ton of them. And then sort of what I wanted to do, try to do was, was to distill that all down into five minutes for the average person, because I will take action all day long. Like that is who I am, but most people want to do something and then go back to their lives. They don't want to think about this all the time, but I do want to feel like they're doing something. So what I decided to do it was sort of provide the service where I would read all the stuff and subscribe to all the things and then just distill it down into five minutes. So my idea was that you would just make just a couple of calls every day. You would call both of your senators. You would call your congressional rep. And then there would be like an extra credit thing to call some other, whoever it was. It used to be Scott Pruitt a lot in the beginning, cause I I'm an environmentalist at heart. And then eventually I added a resist bot text because people love resist bot so much. And I thought that was a good place to sort of add an action. That was a little bit or a script that was a bit longer that people could just send as a resist bot text. And that's what Chop Wood, Carry Water is to this day. It's a little short pep talk. It's a call to your members of Congress. It's like one or two extra things. I started including a lot of election related links in one of the sections. Just so if people wanted to find me or text bank or write postcards, I add those in. And then it's a resist bot text. And the idea is you can do it all in, in five minutes, which I think actually you genuinely, can't what I try to do tell people is just those five minutes can make such a huge difference. And if enough of us make those calls, you know, it really, I mean, we learned it with the, the attacks on the ACA and, and with so many other things I made, eventually Scott Pruitt did go away and, uh, you know, so many victories we have had have just been, because people have kind of hammered on the doors every single day, you know, using their voices and it does make a difference. And I think that one of the big enemies in this situation has been despair, which leads to hopelessness, which leads to apathy. And then we really are in trouble. So my whole thing has been that when I make those five minutes of calls, I actually feel better. I feel more empowered. I feel more hopeful. And that's why I always say hope is an action because I don't become hopeful from just sitting around trying to like gin up hope in myself. I become hopeful when I actually make those calls or, or take any action, which bear in mind. I usually don't want to do. I almost never want to make my calls and I don't want to show up for protests. I don't want to show up at any of this stuff I do. But when I do it, I feel better — so there are very selfish motives behind all of this. It's really to help me not go into a tailspin, but it also turns out to help our democracy a lot. If you’re looking for a way to contribute and get your voice heard, sign up for Chop Wood, Carry Water at And listen to Jess’ full interview here.

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