Can you find the Easter eggs?

๐ŸŒฑ I see dead people.

Part II: How Fandom Inspired Your Activism? Guest Written by Emily Weltman

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez / Emily O Weltman

Table of Contents

Welcome Back! ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿผ

My friend, Emily Weltman, reflects on fandom and her morbid obsessions in our first guest series on how fandom can influence activism. Just donโ€™t say the name three times! Read on for more...

In Case You Missed It: What Star Wars Teaches Us About Social Justice

๐Ÿ’ก
๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ Join our 1st Seedling gathering on Thursday, May 23. How Geek Culture Shapes & Strengthens Our Activism. My hope is that these sessions can be moments for us to pause, be in community together, and build our resilience for our collective work. Paid subscribers get in free.

My Geek Culture Theme: I see dead people.

By: Emily O. Weltman, M. Ed.

I have never considered myself geeky enough to pick just one fandom. I like to think of myself as nerd adjacent, in the way that I am tech adjacent. I know a lot, but Iโ€™m not the expert. I am not a geek, I just play one on t.v. Ok well, I may be just a skosh geeky. I think the beauty of geek culture is finding others who will go deep with you on something that speaks to you.

As a multipotentialite whose blog is literally about info dumping, the reality is, I am not just a small geek; Iโ€™m a big olโ€™ super nerd. I respect creative filmmakers who go deep building other worlds, and geek out on details, but I am too interested in ALL THE THINGS to choose just one world. Iโ€™m more of a hoover of stories than a diehard fan of one universe (Marvel, if I had to pick.)

I like to know ALL there is to know about a universe and its culture. I donโ€™t read fanfic or watch spin offs often, and usually prefer the classics. I like to go all in, and grew up watching every episode of the original Black & White Twilight Zones on VHS, after school with friends. Clearly, I was a "cool" teenager. I still remember my top 5 favorite episodes (and just realized, I need to make this into a top 5 of The Hot List).

Iโ€™ve always liked sci-fi, though to be honest, I was never a big Trekkie, which I know is a shanda (yiddish for "a shame"). What I did watch: The Battlestar Galactica reboot almost 2 decades ago, when I started dating my partner. And I've always been a sucker for โ€œThe Force,โ€ and love Rey, Finn, and Kylo.

But, here's where my interests seem to converge most: shows and movies about dead people, death, and the afterlife/other dimensions. Time travel too. I like movies that explore how we can be our best selves and level up.

My favorite movies from the 80s and 90s depict the experience around death (before/after), and explore what it could be. Beetlejuice, Ghostbusters, Defending Your Life, Death Becomes Her, Chances Are. TV wise, The Good Place was rad. American Gods was too. Does this count as fandom? Maybe. Itโ€™s definitely a geeky AF genre.

Over the course of my 4+ decades, I have enjoyed many worlds and like preternatural stories where the characters have deep back stories and rich made up history/lore.

One example is the origin of vampires that Anne Rice describes (for half a book) in the Queen of the Damned, the 3rd book in The Vampire Chronicles. Itโ€™s probably been 25+ years since I read it but I still remember it vividly. I like vampires (sexy, sleek), but not zombies (gross, unkempt). Again, think classics (I am a Gen X-er for sure). Lost Boys (the soundtrack!), and Keanu and Winona in Bram Stoker's Dracula (the costumes!!) are both faves. True Blood, meh.

I like long arcs (can you tell?) where characters become people you know intimately. As I said, I go all in, so I can root for them, which brings The Serenity movie to mind. When River Tam, seemingly disabled, mentally unstable and anxiety ridden goes in to slaying ALL the dragons reevers, and as the doors open sheโ€™s standing there triumphantlyโ€ฆthat is pretty rad. The movie was 5 years in the making for fans, because the show Firefly was canceled after 1 season, but fans made such a stink they finally made a movie. I love that for us.

I contest that 6 Feet Under, from the start, the very first time we see Clair tweaked out until we see her in the very last episode (no spoilers) is pitch perfect. Itโ€™s far and away most brilliant, penultimate end of a show ever writtenโ€“a hill I am willing to die on, pun intended.

I mourn the end of eras, and cried like the dickens when 6 Feet Ended; same with The Good Place. But, I move on quickly, because there is no shortage of amazing fantasy and sci-fi out there, and always more to learn.

Death has a way of putting all that we learn and all we are here to do into perspective. Think of the worlds we discover through T'Challa's life, and even after he dies through his brilliant sister, Shuri. My love for Black Panther tracks, because who wouldn't want to visit the ancestral plane?

Now, would I say any these worlds influenced my activism? I donโ€™t know if I ever made that connection, really, but clearly there is a thread. 

I relate to those who canโ€™t quite wrap their head around THIS world.

  1. The exploration of different โ€œworldsโ€ in sci-fi is nice to entertain, but we are living in our own dystopian nightmare, and our own amazing fantastical, miraculous world, simultaneously. Human relationships are hard enough without adding in superpowers.
  2. As Pop, The Muppets Take Manhattanโ€œPeoples is Peoples.โ€ I donโ€™t get celebrity obsessions. I donโ€™t find those in charge deserve deference unless they earn it, so police and others in power do not intimidate me. What moves even more: real people and real stories, from founders like you (Sam).
  3. I donโ€™t see characters as role models, per se. I am drawn to the way people spin their story and love words and language. Personal history is what gets me invested emotionally in fictional characters. I like watching and reading about people grapple with the MESS. I find inspiration watching others explore the ethical, moral, and societal dilemmas we all deal with. I find solidarity in hearing โ€œThis world is realllllly f&cked up. Amazing. But f&cked up.โ€

I gravitate towards the geeks within geek cultureโ€”misfits, like the 2006-2010 show Heroes, โ€œCommon people discover that they have super powers.โ€ They donโ€™t fit in and instead find others who are in on โ€œit.โ€

My "heroes" desperately want to make sense of earth's mess. Theyโ€™re usually underestimated, often invisible, and highly observant. Like Claire in 6 Feet Under, or River in Firefly, they notice what others look right past. Eleanor or Chidi in The Good Place do this, tooโ€”figure out why The Place is so odd because they're always analyzing.

My fandom may be broad, but my affinity lies with the characters who are 10 steps ahead of everyone else. The characters I like are artsy misfits who are slightly melancholy because theyโ€™re disappointed in all the unnecessary pain in the world.

Their parents might see them as weak or dismiss them, even if theyโ€™re from a fam of weirdos too (see: Wednesday Adams). Society always underestimates them. And yet, we know, theyโ€™re NOT to be messed with. They are brave AF, clear about what is right and wrong, and they SEE ALL.

It seems the stars of my fandom do their own thing even if it's annoying, which tends to bug people around them. Ultimately, they do so with love. Theyโ€™re also a bit neurotic, over-thinkers, and, come to think of itโ€ฆtheyโ€™re clearly neurodivergent! How did I just figure this out? As Winona says in Beetlejuice, โ€œI myself am strange and unusual.โ€

It's not easy. I also grapple with the burden of knowing and seeing what others miss. โ€œWith great power, comes great responsibility.โ€ This weighs them down daily; sometimes they wish they could unsee things and just take a nap. There is fatigue and heartbreak that comes knowing the full truth. Nevertheless, they use their power for the greater good.

If you ever see these "heroes" falter, or act momentarily in their own self interest, itโ€™s usually because they're trying to escape that heavy responsibility. Afterall, they're only human; they don't wear capes.

We don't need superpowers; we just need to pay attention, then act. We can do the extraordinary when we come together and use our Collective power.

Never underestimate the quiet power of a bunch of nerds who see ALL. When they find each other, they are unstoppable. Ultimately, I am confident it's the geeks who are going to save the world.

Emily Weltman is a writer, strategy consultant, and social entrepreneur who started a community, FLOWLabโต to support nerdy creatives working to save the world. She founded Collective Flow Consulting to help businesses start "Leading with Purposeโ€“because the patriarchy isnโ€™t going to fix Itself.โ€๐Ÿ’ซ

Subscribe to Emily's blog InfoDumpster Fire using special discount code Beetlejuice.

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Getting to the roots - evaluating the news with a social change lens
  • ๐Ÿ“š Whatโ€™s After DEI? - The attacks on DEI in the corporate world and higher education are at a fever pitch. The resignation of Claudine Gay was just an early sign of how the powers that be want to maintain the hierarchical status quo with them at the top.
    • ๐Ÿค“ The Root ๐ŸŒฑ - Sharonโ€™s Anti-Racist Newsletter has a great piece on this written by Dr. Kerriann Peart. โ€œHow could DEI, seen by some as a โ€œkumbayaโ€ and โ€œfeel goodโ€ exercise, while simultaneously calling certain groups to account.โ€œ
  • ๐Ÿ“š 10 Ways to Prepare for Protest - As student protests grow and more folks start protesting, itโ€™s important to be aware as a protestor and to plan protests safely. I love this guide from Sacil Armstrong!
    • ๐Ÿค“ The Root ๐ŸŒฑ - whether youโ€™re new or need a refresher, itโ€™s good to know what to bring, how to prepare for different possibilities, and understanding your rights.
  • ๐ŸŽฌ Hillary and Democrat's Patronizing Media Tour - Over the weekend, Democratic leaders, including Cory Booker, put their foot in their mouth when defending Israel's actions in Gaza. Hillary Clinton went on MSNBC to talk down to students, belittle their historical knowledge, and perpetuate the very imperialism that students are protesting.
    • ๐Ÿค“ The Root ๐ŸŒฑ - Nadia explains it well when she outlines the colonial belief system that is at the root of this press push. We are seeing Establishment Democrats resorting to patronizing comments about protestors in an attempt to discredit their voices and movement, but social media exposes the truth that these movements are non-violent and rooted in a real concern for the Palestinian people. (For the record, that does not mean activists are pro-Hamas ๐Ÿ™„)
getting to the roots - navigating tech, media, and communications

Instagram's a Changin' โ€” Will It Help Communicators?

Organizations that are speaking truth to power and wealth are still going to be in a constant struggle with the algorithm. To be a social change communicator on social media today is like being Ginger Rogers but dancing backwards with weights on our high heels. It takes more effort for us to be heard on tech-dominated platforms, especially the ones controlled in Silicon Valley.

Instagramโ€™s a Changinโ€™ โ€” Will It Help Communicators?
Algorithmic Changes Impacting Social Change Communicators

Weโ€™ll dive a little more into the current state of social buzz and what it means for your content strategies. At the end of the day, social media is just one place to reach people but itโ€™s still one of better opportunities. More on that Thursday!



let's grow together - reflections, ideas, and curiosities of the week

The Fed is at it again squeezing workers on both ends. I wanted to break down what The Fed's decision to keep interest rates high actually means. I'm such an economic nerd (my days of marketing past included top finance players) and I love that I can put it to good use for once. We're getting squeezed by inflation and interest rates. Find our latest videos on our ๐ŸŽฌ Quick Bites page.

@roots.of.change

The Fed is at it again trying to screw workers on both ends. Let's break down what high interest rates actually mean. #inflation #interestrates #thefed #economicpolicy #wealthgap

โ™ฌ original sound - Sam @ Roots of Change - Sam @ Roots of Change

And that's a wrap on this weekโ€™s newsletter! We hope you found this helpful in your work. Forward this to a friend and help democratize communications! If you have any topics you want covered or have any questions, please reach out and let me know.

In Solidarity,
Sam Chavez
Roots of Change Founder


About the roots of change agency โ€” Navigating heart-first activism & storytelling. We explore the ๐ŸŒฑ roots of our world to support organizations and activists ๐Ÿฅต avoid burnout and ๐Ÿ“š tell empathetic stories that cultivate connections that ๐ŸŒ empower โœŠ๐Ÿฝ social change.

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๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿคนโ€โ™€๏ธ Social & Cultural๐Ÿ—ผ๐Ÿ—ž: Newsletter๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ for activists & heart-first humans ๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿ‘ท๐Ÿฝโ€โ™€๏ธ Organizing & Movements

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.

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Navigating heart-first activism & storytelling. We explore the ๐ŸŒฑ roots of our world to support communicators, organizations, and activists ๐Ÿฅต to avoid burnout and ๐Ÿ“š tell empathetic stories that cultivate connections that ๐ŸŒ empower โœŠ๐Ÿฝ social change.

Learn more about the Roots of Change Agency.