Public trust in government is historically low and people are more polarized and feel more negatively towards their opposing party than ever. In such dividing times comes an explosion in issue-based literature. There are endless outlets for writers to let their activist thoughts loose. Twitter threads, Tumblr, Medium, Facebook, zines, etc. But how do you do that without sounding like a pretentious a**hole?

That’s where Jessica Hatch comes in. She’s been a freelance editor for more than three years. Previously, she worked in New York book publishing. All along the way, she’s edited for people with uncommon experiences. When Hatch moved here from New York, adjusting to the new area took a bit of getting used to. She thinks Jacksonville is progressive, but wants it to be more open about it. So, she’s hosting an activist writing workshop in August at Coniferous Cafe downtown. It’s a place for writers and activists at all levels, to feel safe with their thoughts and issues.

“I want them to walk away feeling empowered.”

Coniferous Cafe is a worker-owned cooperative with a hand in the urban core’s revitalization. She chose Coniferous as the location because it’s a place that is open and welcoming to often divisive discussions. It’s a place where she feels comfortable teaching.

“Their heart for this community is what downtown needs.”

The cafe itself has progressive programming several times a month. It’s a little hub of open-minded culture. “We want to provide a great cup of locally roasted coffee for people to enjoy and also provide access to perspectives which challenge the status quo in a welcoming environment,” said Siddie Friar, a barista at Coniferous. She publishes the monthly calendar, which often has events at least five times a week.

“DIY, community-oriented education has always been important to everyone who is working on the project. The calendar grew out of that ethic. Infoshops historically serve the function of an educational resource for the community. We felt there was a need and people are really responding favorably to it.”

Coniferous and Hatch will split the profits of the workshop. You can buy a ticket to any class, or all four for a discounted price, here. There will be in-class exercises, take-home worksheets and reading lists. The class will also use real-world examples, some of which Hatch edited herself.

Most recently, she edited I was born a boy, from Venus” by Ella Marques. It’s a self-published memoir about the author’s transition from male to female at 60 years-old. These kinds of examples are what’s going to be found at the workshop. It will be “inter-sectional and integrative,” according to Hatch.

Photos courtesy of Siddie Friar