CHICAGO — A few years ago, Chicago author and activist Rebecca Sive’s book and manifesto, “Vote Her In: Your Guide to Electing Our First Woman President,” set the stage for an action-based plan to elect a woman to the highest office in our land. In it, Sive wrote: “It’s time for a century of women. And then another. And another.”
Sive’s latest literary work, “Make Herstory Your Story: Your Guided Journal to Justice Every Day for Every Woman,” is all about adding to that century of women, one journal at a time. The guided workbook comes with illustrations and writing prompts for readers to write their activist dreams into reality in a methodical, practical way.
Using the journal as a catalyst for change, Sive walks readers through their own introspective journeys that can be made individually or as a group. As the reader makes plans on paper, Sive guides them from the “why” to the “how.” Sive hopes the book serves as a tool to help every woman channel her inner activist, find and raise the volume on her own voice, and formulate a plan for change.
“We now have eight generations of women in the context of a women’s movement, in the context of organizing for positive change,” Sive said. “That’s huge. How can we help each other and help ourselves? I thought people can journal individually and share together. I’m hoping that it’s not only for the person, but for her affinity groups.”
The journal is a result of Sive doing something positive during the pandemic. Realizing the importance of journaling as a way for people to orient themselves, Sive imbues the pages with her decades of experience as a community organizer and social justice advocate. By using words used on protest signs she saw over the course of recent years, Sive moves the journal forward through three sections: Imagine. Create. Organize.
“If you’re going to be an effective activist, organizer, spokesperson, leader, there’s a sequence of events you need to engage,” Sive said. “Imagine, what can I imagine I can create? Create, what does this look like? And organize, how am I going to get this done? Then it was: What’s the sequence of steps within each of those three, bearing in mind my own experience as an organizer, other women I’ve worked with? And what are the lessons of the past, and the lessons of the last few years?”
Sive offers guidance to females looking to use their outside voice to further justice and create a life and world that they deserve, regardless if they want to build projects, organizations or movements. She trained as a community organizer in the Saul Alinsky method in the ‘70s (grassroots, knocking on doors), couples her experience in the women’s rights movement with her historian background to give practical advice on each page.
Sive envisions the book being used by girls and women, as well as organizations with women at the center.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, where you live, what your age is ... we all can be a part of doing good, helping other women,” Sive said. “I think the key to successfully writing it down in a journal, and then acting on it methodically is stay focused. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, it doesn’t matter what neighborhood it is. Find an issue that will mobilize the broadest number of people, and as we come together and hopefully succeed on that issue, is there another one we can take on?
“Systemic change is groups of people coming together and individuals affirmatively deciding: We’re going to do this together,” Sive said. “I think with the journal and with the prompts, you can focus on: Which way do I want to work with other people?”