Open Collective
Open Collective
A Year of Supporting Worker Power Storytelling
Published on March 7, 2023 by Siena Chiang

In the last 12 months, we’ve supported a broad group of storytellers—novelists, comic book creators, TikTokers, journalists, photographers, organizers, historians—with our grants. All of these recipients share one common belief—in the importance of creative expression to help us better understand, imagine, and move toward the future of worker power and a new labor movement. We can't wait to see who else we can support as we move in year two. 

To quickly recap each of our storytellers and their projects: 
  1. Frontline restaurant worker Alex Torres for her work on TikTok, shining a light on the exploitative practices of her employer
  2. Former union organizer Vanessa Veselka (who has written about working in an Amazon warehouse and organizing workers during the pandemic), for her various upcoming organizing-related writing projects
  3. Writer and investigative reporter Gabb Schivone for their book manuscript about police who betray their ranks to support organized labor
  4. Photographer Candace Hope and organizer Melissa Markstrom for their multimedia project telling stories of real people claiming power in their workplaces
  5. The community of Strippers United for their comics about Scabatha, which help to educate about the importance of workplace organizing, sex work decriminalization, and occupational health and safety
  6. Multi-genre writer and cultural worker KB Brookins for their creative project about worker organizing, gentrification, and the potential for a queer-led labor movement in Texas
  7. A not-yet-public storytelling project about AAPI worker organizing whose creators chose to stay anonymous until its release
  8. Gabriela Quintanilla and her collaborators for their documentary project about poultry workers in the Catskills region of New York and their experience during the pandemic
  9. Writer and teacher Beatrice Alder for their historical novel about a close-knit circle of queer, Russian-Jewish Wobblies, amidst the Palmer Raids in 1920s Detroit.
  10. For the farm worker-led storytelling Not Our Farm project, started in 2019 by Anita Adalja, which aims to change the narrative about farmers and provide worker-created resources to the broader community
  11. Cornell ILR grad student Alejandra Quintero for numerous projects, including her reporting on workers at General Motors that formed an independent union and are negotiating their first contract
  12. A not-yet-published journalistic project that explores how Black women in the 1960s developed craft cooperatives to sustain and nurture their creative work (whose creator also chose to stay anonymous until publication)
As we continue these grants into 2023, we want to offer our deep thanks to our selection team. Along with determining these first 12 winners of the grant, they’ve also helped shape our criteria and championed the importance of this narrative work. 
  • Akash Kapur, journalist and author of Better to Have Gone
  • Elise Joshi, co-founder and deputy director of Gen-Z for Change
  • Jamie Way, national digital organizing director at SEIU
  • Jamie Earl White, founder of Unit
  • Josh Benson, partner in Old Town Media
  • Larry Williams, founder of UnionBase
  • Liba Wenig Rubenstein, founder of social impact teams at MySpace, tumblr, and 21st Century Fox
  • Lindsay Zafir, editor of The Forge
  • Michelle Miller, co-founder of
We continue to encourage any and every person with a story to tell to apply and spread the word. As guidance, you can see our original post with more details about the project’s origin, and a window into our selection criteria

In solidarity,
Siena (and Roy)

Meagan Lord

Posted on March 7, 2023

We at Strippers United are so grateful for this wonderful grant! These funds have helped us grow and improve the website for our educational comics, Somewhere North of Los Angeles, starring the infamous Scabatha and Mr. Magpie. All episodes of our comic can now be found at . This summer, the Somewhere North of Los Angeles team will release the long-awaited fifth episode of our spicy fictional strip club comic. And much like the locked-out dancers at Star Garden, the entertainers at Mr. Magpie's club are hatching their own plans to improve their workplace! Thank you so much, Open Collective, for helping support working-class art and storytelling. 

Gabb Schivone

Posted on March 7, 2023

The Worker Power Storytelling Grant was very helpful to me as I worked (and continue to work) on my project. In the year since I got the grant, I have had the honor of publishing a *feature, "Black and Blue," in Mother Jones magazine (Jan-Feb 2023), as well as other publications, while I continue to work on my book manuscript. I'm grateful for the opportunity and continue to support their work as they seek new working artists to support.

*MoJo feature can be read here: