Open Notes

On the News

I produce a lot of evergreen podcasts. These are shows that will last, don't need to change with the news, and don't get old.

The Future of Activism, a podcast hosted by Joe Hobbs, is different. It's on the news, always moving. Since it is about activism, and politics, and social change, the people Joe interviews are always moving to a new point of change and often a new struggle.

Joe Hobbs is a 17-year-old youth climate activist who is part of Fridays for Future DC, Fridays for Future USA, and Fridays for Future International.

In our first episode, Joe speaks with Shannon Watts and Ryan Pascal. After the Sandy Hook School shooting in 2012, Shannon Watts founded Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She has taken on the National Rifle Association (NRA) and won.

Today, the NRA has also caught the attention of New York's attorney general, who announced a lawsuit aimed at dissolving it over alleged financial mismanagement.

State Attorney General Letitia James said the NRA had diverted millions of dollars to leaders including its chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, for their personal use.

"For these years of misconduct we are seeking an order to dissolve the NRA in its entirety," she said.

Ever since the Sandy Hook School shooting, during which a shooter killed 20 children and six adult staff members, Shannon Watts has organized for gun safety.

As Shannon told Joe in the interview, "We have gone into state houses and board rooms, and we have changed laws and policies completely to impact the culture of our country and save lives. We've passed background checks now in 22 states. And we've passed something called the Red Flag Law that allows a temporary restraining order to remove the guns from someone who's a danger to themselves or others. We've passed that law now in 18 states."

Shannon Watts calls the work she does the "unglamorous heavy lifting of grassroots activism" but points out that her organization has a 90% track record of stopping bad NRA bills every single year in state legislatures.

Ryan Pascal is on the national Students Demand Action Advisory Board. She's hosted Students Demand Action leadership summits nationwide and helped launch the diversity and inclusion initiative. She was honored as one of People Magazine's 25 women changing the world.

In the interview with Joe, she describes how it's heartbreaking to know that there are people living across this country who are affected by gun violence and who are not heard. "They're not listened to, their perspective isn't valued. Many times I'll have students say, 'What can we do about this? How can we help out?'" She helps them band together to fight for gun safety.

In these pandemic times, organizing in person has been a challenge. Ryan believes that taking up technology to organize has revolutionized the process. By creating virtual field offices she is able to "continue what we started in our homes, not even being physical or near each other. That's something that's unheard of, even five or ten years ago." She believes that we are going to see technology bring people together in ways that we've never seen before. "We're really going see [tech] be the great equalizer that is really going to change the world."

In upcoming episodes of *The Future of Activism," Joe interviews Joshua Wong, the Hong Kong student activist and politician who served as secretary-general of the pro-democracy party Demosistō -- until it was forced to disband following the implementation of the Hong Kong national security law last month. On August 6th, he was charged with participating in an illegal assembly at a June vigil that commemorated the crackdown on protesters in and around Beijing's Tiananmen square in 1989.

Joe also interviews Chicago activist Ja'Mal Green who is protesting against Chase Bank’s discriminatory lending practices, climate and sustainability activist Nivi Achanta, and Jonathan Horn, an organizer for PETA. The podcast is part of the FutureX Podcast Network.