Happy Saturday! There’s a heat wave hitting us here in New England, so unless we venture to go swimming in the river later (which is also one of our favorite places to watch the sunset with a cold drink!) we will be inside all day! We are so stoked to feature Tyler this week, who is a dear friend of ours.
Lee and Tyler experienced the highs and lows of their late teens and early twenties together in the squalid co-cops of the University of Maryland and have been best buds ever since 2013!
The Tiny Activist: So we know who you are, but can you introduce yourself/your organization for our readers?
Tyler Vile: Hi! My name is Tyler Vile and I’m a writer, performer, and organizer from Baltimore, Maryland! I’m a founding member of Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebel, a radically inclusive synagogue. I write poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and I’m trying to get back into screenwriting and playwriting, and I’m learning to write scripts for comic books. Hinenu formed officially in 2017, and we often get asked what it means to be a radically inclusive synagogue as opposed to just inclusive. The best answer I can come up with is that we have disabled Jews, queer and trans Jews, Jews of color, and converts in our leadership, and we make our decisions entirely democratically. Many progressive synagogues will pay lip service to marginalized people’s needs and issues, but at Hinenu, we’re the ones making the decisions. We’re looking to the future right now with conversations about childcare, Hebrew school, and increasing learning opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. We pray together, we celebrate together, we protest together. It’s incredible to have seen this grow from a rough idea to where it is right now.
TTA: What are you passionate about?
TV: I’m passionate about so many things! Writing, of course, but also ritual, justice, human connection. My passions are a big motivator in my life. As a disabled person, it’s literally physically difficult to get out of bed sometimes. Everyone has to find that balance, that sweet spot between passion and rest. I have to remind myself all the time that it’s okay not to do everything I’m passionate about at once. Fear of missing out can be hard, but as long as you’re confident in what you’re doing long term, you don’t need to be at every show, every protest, or every event.
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
TV: Glad you asked! Right now, I’m working on a poetic reinterpretation of Bereshit (Genesis), the first book of the Torah. There’s so much in there that I think we take for granted. One thing I’ve learned in working with these ancient characters is that people really don’t change over thousands of years. There’s still jealousy, anger, hatred, and struggle, but there’s also still joy, humor, compassion, and liberation. I’m also working on a collection of sci-fi short stories about disabled characters and adaptive technology. I’ve always been a huge sci-fi fan and thought that we as disabled people live the most sci-fi lives, but we’re barely represented in the genre. When we are, it’s either as the villain or there’s a deus ex machina that fixes disability all together. I want to look at the consequences of “fixing” disability, the relationships we have with adaptive technology, and how disabled people are going to survive the climate crises that are headed our way.
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
TV: You can make a tax deductible donation to Hinenu here if you feel so moved. My personal Paypal and Venmo are always open if you’d like to donate to the work I’m doing. You can buy my first book, Never Coming Home. While monetary donations help, they aren’t everything. If you’d like to book me for a poetry reading, writing workshop, or panel appearance, my email is email@example.com. Other than that, be good to the people around you, support local artists and activists.
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?
TV: It has to be Making Spaces Safer by my friend Shawna Potter. Shawna’s in a band called War on Women and is using her platform to make sure that public spaces are free from harassment and that everyone is afforded respect, dignity, and consent. I was a beta reader for that book and in offering feedback, I was blown away by how smoothly and directly she delivers some very necessary truths about the way we treat each other. I love the way she weaves other people’s narratives into the points she makes and invites readers to learn from what can go right as much as what can go wrong.
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
TV: The Jewish New Year is right around the corner! September will be here faster than you think. It’s not just about celebration, although that’s a big part of it, it’s a whole season of self-reflection, forgiveness, and accountability. What I love about it is that it acknowledges that hardship and joy are equally likely and that even when we’ve made mistakes and missed the mark, we’re still worth it and can grow and change. So, I’m looking forward to growing, learning, working on my book and all the things I don’t even know I’m going to love yet!
to support her work!
Check out Hinenu, and
make a tax deductible donation
to the organization here!
Read Tyler’s first book,
To book Tyler for a poetry reading, writing workshop, or panel appearance,
email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org