By Catherine Connors

If you’ve ever attended one of our PowerUps, you’ll know that we often orient the conversation around what we call “chickens on the moon”: moonshot or blue sky thinking, through a framework of imaginative and active hope (you’ll have to join a PowerUp if you want to learn about the story behind the term). We talk about what we would build, do, or catalyze, if there were nothing limiting us. Sometimes those are things that pertain to our own lives; often they’re things that we want to bring to the bigger world, or to change in the bigger world. They’re always things that we can and do unpack for actionability: even the work of putting a chicken on the moon has a starting point, and with a network as extraordinary as ours, there’s always a way and a means to find that starting point, and to move on it.

But last week, we decided to take a beat and talk about the idea of hope itself. How should we be thinking about hope right now, given the state of the world? Is hope itself a chicken on the moon, a wild idea that we can only wrap our hearts, heads, and hands around if we come together and work for it?

Shadi Shamsavari suggested in that conversation that there’s a connection between hope and courage — that hope requires courage, a willingness to look past fear and to at least imagine a place beyond that fear. We often think of hope as a noun — something that we have or give (or lose) — but the connection to courage reminds us that it’s also a verb — something that we do. When we do use hope as a verb we most often treat it as passive: to hope is to desire something, in a posture of passive expectation. It implies, in some uses, that whatever it is we desire is out of our hands. We hope that we won’t catch the virus, we hope that the forest fires won’t reach us, we hope that politics will take a turn for the better. We cross our fingers. We pray.

But there’s nothing in the word or idea of hope that requires it be passive. Some have argued, in fact, that the word should carry connotations of action; they point out that the Old English hopian (hope) is very close to hoppian (to hop) and suggest that the idea of leaping is right there in the etymology. We can choose to look at hope in this way, as an act of optimistic leaping. This is where the courage comes in: active hope is courageous hope — hope with heart. It isn’t just a thing that inspires or compels action — it is the action. Or, as Vivian Ho put it, it is (or could be) a bridge of actions, a series of actions that connect and create foundations for new and ongoing action through that connection. Each leap clears a path. Each leap makes more leaps possible.

The state of the world — the whole world, not just the United States — is such that it might feel like hope is slipping out of reach. But if we think about hope as something that we do, rather than something that we have (and that we can lose), perhaps we can use it to propel ourselves forward — to leap forward, courageously, with the expectation that, yes, we can make these jumps. We can build these bridges. We can hope.

— — Catherine

Hope in Action

The BRUSSELS LEAGUE OF BADASS WOMEN walked 40km for the Refugee Walk 2020 and raised more than 450,000 EUR for Refugees. Hope moves step by step!

Badass Asha Dornfest created Vote+1 to support us all in doing more than just voting (get out your own vote, PLUS do at least one more thing to get things in the right direction).

Badasses Samantha Steelman, Raven Hollis, Carrie Gooch, Arielle Brandy, and Kyrstin Schuette created I Vote For to mobilize and support women in using storytelling as a means of political action between now and election day — and beyond. (This week’s PowerUp will be a working session on that action — email with subject line I Vote For to be added to that event).

We’re on the host committee with sister badass communities TueNight & Persisticon for their Get Out the MotherF&#@ing Vote event next Tuesday, October 6. We’ll write postcards, hear great comedy & music, and hang out. Proceeds benefit @fairfightaction. Tickets:

Artwork by Johanna Goodman

In the US? Ideas for POLITICAL action:

Follow Asha Dornfest’s Vote+1 campaign for more ideas on one more thing that you can do to get things in the right political direction. This list was shared by Jeannine Harvey; compiled by Asha Dornfest and Margit Detweiler.


This Friday, October 2, at 9am PT | 12pm ET | 4pm GMT.

All are welcome! This week will be a working session on using storytelling as a means of political action. RSVP to to be added to the invitation and to receive the Zoom link.

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