Three girls pose by a crowded pool, capturing a moment of vibrant enjoyment.
Jane Hervey (left) at one of Future Front's Swim Sessions at the LINE Austin.

Say Yes, Show Up, and Get to the Front

“Girls to the front!” Kathleen Hanna famously shouted from stage during Bikini Kill shows of the 1990s. Hanna was an iconic frontwoman for the punk band, and the phrase became a rallying cry of the Riot Grrrl movement, an influential punk-and-feminism subculture that sprouted out of a meetup in Olympia, Washington, where people gathered to talk about sexism in the local music scene.

Something similar happened in Austin, Texas, in 2016 when Jane Hervey gathered together a group for a similar purpose, this time to talk sexism in the local creative scene. The Facebook event posting she created for the small meet-up went viral, and more than 250 people showed up to connect with like minds.

Today that group is known as Future Front Texas, a nonprofit that cultivates community resources and connects marginalizes creative people from around the state. Jane says it’s been an education in working together, one she developed on top of her experience growing up in a small rural border town.

“You have to figure out ways to collaborate with each other,” she recalls of the 2000-person town where she would watch just 10 or so people step up and lead in necessary moments. People saying yes.

In Austin, the meetup sprung out of a set of interviews Jane did for a senior year journalism project, an attempt understand gender inequality in creative work. When the people being interviewed formed connections, and Hervey decided put together a small meetup with of all of them, she was surprised to see the event take on a life of its own. 

“There’s something really indescribable that happens when you realize you’re not the only one who feels a certain way about something,” she told Jack Inslee in the latest episode of Hear, HERE. “There is something really beautiful about that relatability.”

Energy and momentum built that night, and when people started asking about the next meetup — one that was never imagined, let alone planned — Jane said yes, she’d plan one.

“One of the best decisions I ever made was to keep going and to keep showing up when people were expressing a genuine intent to gather and get together,” she says. “I’m glad I made that decision and that other people did, too.”

The meetup group that formed stayed informal for three years until it hit a critical moment. Existential questions popped up: Where is this going? What are we working toward? The people that had been giving their time, energy, and resources to the group had begun to grow resentful. It was clearly time to formalize, and all the pieces fell into place as the group rebranded and formed a nonprofit.

Today, Future Front is a thriving, state-wide nonprofit with a community of nearly 2,000 artists and creative workers, and Jane is a completely different person. “My entire bedrock for understanding the world and developing a practice for curatorial work and creative work has been informed by thousands and thousands of teachers,” Jane reflects.

“There are those times where you meet the person that changes the entire scope of your life… Even if it’s sometimes really difficult to understand, and we have no control over it. What evidence of being alive, and being here and now.”

Of saying yes and showing up. Get to the front.

Listen to the whole story above, and follow along on SpotifyPhoto by Manny Frayre.

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