Spotlight: Crowdsourcing The Resistance with Aditi Juneja

Aditi Juneja is a law student and the Co-Creator of The Resistance Manual, a comprehensive, crowdsourced, and non-partisan guide to inform people on issues and keep them civically engaged. With pages ranging from Tools of Resistance to Essential Readings, covering topics from reproductive justice to mass incarceration, The Resistance Manual is a one stop shop for activism, and we had the opportunity to hear from how this vision came to be from Aditi herself.

Check out their latest initiative, OurStates.org – Aditi wrote the state legislative guide!

The Resistance Manual is such an incredibly comprehensive tool for organizing, education, and receiving information. How did you come up with this idea and where did you begin?

I began collecting policy information including proposed GOP plans, projected impacts and barriers to implementation after the election. I started collecting the information for myself, but have always had a strong belief that government and the policies that it creates should be accessible to everyone. Policy impacts every person in some way and they have the right to know how. As a result, I shared that spreadsheet with people at StayWoke. They helped connect me with a tech team to bring the idea to life.

Early on, the focus was on the major policy areas, but we quickly expanded to include information on the states because that’s where most policy decisions that impact people’s daily lives are made. Furthermore, it helps people’s advocacy if they can tell their representatives how an issue is impacting their constituents. We started collecting tools and essential readings early on. The crisis resources section really developed after the first Muslim ban. While others were out protesting, I was home collecting phone numbers to help connect people to relief.

There’s been a lot of tension within many social movements right now between those who are new to activism, and those who have been doing the work for years. How did you take this into account when creating The Resistance Manual?

I didn’t take the tensions into account, but rather, was focused on creating something that would be useful and didn’t already exist. I wanted to spend my time working on something that added value to the great work that others are doing, not displace anyone. In this way, the Resistance Manual is a bridge between individuals and organizations who have spent a long time doing this work and those newly engaged. We believe activism is for everyone so we are connecting interested people with the tools and resources they need to thrive.

As we’ve grown, I’ve been increasingly thoughtful about how we place ourselves in the movement ecosystem. We have reached out to well-established organizations like Center for American Progress, long time organizers like Fight for 15 and new groups like Action Groups Networks. We are trying to take the information and wisdom of well-established organizations and long-time activists and help to convey it in simple and easy to understand language for newcomers. Part of the reason we have pages in the Manual for people and organizations and tools of resistance is to help connect people with the great resources that already exist in one place.

What do you do to practice self care?

I don’t do nearly enough. I have epilepsy, so my body requires that I take care of it or else risk having a seizure. I make sure that I always get enough sleep. I also view the schoolwork I’m doing in my final semester of law school as a form of self-care because it’s generally solo work and gives me a break from concerns about the impact of our activism. It is also refreshing to learn new things and be working towards a short-term goal, like graduation in May. I also try to make sure that I do fun things, I enjoy music and writing. I also live in NYC so have the opportunity to see a fair number of shows!

I think self-care and making activist work sustainable is a concern for all of us. I put out a call on Twitter last week to ask if people would be interested in me hosting a podcast asking other activists about self-care and how they practice it. I got a wildly positive response so, as I move towards graduation and the Resistance Manual becomes more efficient, I am going to try to host a podcast asking different types of people about self-care. We even have a section on self-care in tools of resistance on the Resistance Manual. It’s a fundamental part of the work.