Shoshannah Stern, known for her critically-acclaimed Sundance Now series This Close and her role as deaf hunter Eileen Leahy on the show Supernatural, has recently launched a campaign entitled “All You Need is Love” with Stands. The shirts, sweatshirts, zip hoodies, and tote bags all feature the American Sign Language sign for “love”–crossed arms over the heart with fisted hands– in yellow with the words “All You Need Is” in blue.
Shoshannah’s campaign with Stands is to support Off the Grid Missions, a nonprofit that provides access to survival tools in high-risk and remote regions around the world such as the deaf/hard of hearing community in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria.
Shoshannah answered some questions for Nerds and Beyond about the campaign and helping the deaf/hard of hearing community in times of crisis. Check out our conversation below, and click here to join the campaign.
All you need is love (and a solid disaster relief plan)! Please join me in supporting Off-The-Grid Missions, and help the deaf & hard of hearing community during times of crisis. #OFFTHEGRIDPUERTORICO https://t.co/TSQmR849HK pic.twitter.com/bThcthAwRt
— Shoshannah Stern (@Shoshannah7) April 13, 2018
Nerds and Beyond: Why did you decide to support Off the Grid Missions?
Shoshannah Stern: I’ve known Angela for a long time. We played soccer together in college and I went home with her to visit one weekend. I saw how much the culture of Puerto Rico was alive in her home and in her family and I never forgot that. She started doing relief work several years ago and I just thought that was really incredible. I’d make donations whenever I could but I always wished I could do something more, especially when Maria hit and I knew it was especially personal to her–a lot of her family members were there and she was actively trying to find them. I followed her relief missions there on Instagram (you should follow Off-The-Grid on there) and one video stood out to me. She had found this older deaf woman who’d been living for days, probably weeks with no roof. It was completely gone. Even though people around her had gotten help, Off-The-Grid was the first to reach her. I could see how relieved she was, not just to receive aid, but to be able to communicate with the people who were bringing her that aid and the importance of that communication. I couldn’t stop thinking about her face. I started talking to Stands and Misha about it, and then over time the All You Need Is Love campaign is what came out of it.
Nerds and Beyond: What does the design mean to you?
Shoshannah Stern: I feel like it kind of transcends language, which is something that love can also do, so it’s kind of perfect. You’re gonna know it’s the sign for love even if you don’t know sign language. It exemplifies the whole feeling behind the campaign, which is that we’re all connected. It wasn’t that I wanted to help the deaf community in Puerto Rico because I pitied them, it’s because that woman who lost her roof could be me. We’re all connected and sometimes we need to be reminded of that.
Nerds and Beyond: Why did you choose this phrase as the design/message for your campaign?
Shoshannah Stern: I can’t actually take credit for it — that came from the genius of Stands. But when they showed me what they had I was just like… that’s perfect. I’m just constantly reminding myself to lead with love, especially during these turbulent times. There is more that unites us than divides us. We can’t choose hate. We have to choose love. If we feel like something isn’t being done, we can’t give up. We have to try to see if we can do it ourselves. To me, that is love.
Nerds and Beyond: Why did you choose to do this campaign?
Shoshannah Stern: I really hadn’t thought this would become a campaign when I talked to Stands about it. I’ve always been interested in doing charity work, so I really enjoyed talking to them and getting to know them when we did the calendar. I knew they were doing hurricane relief over in Puerto Rico during that time and so I wanted to see if they could help the deaf community over there. I thought they might be able to donate to Off-The-Grid or amplify it themselves, but it turned into this.
Nerds and Beyond: What would you hope people feel when they wear one of the campaign items?
Shoshannah Stern: I hope it reminds them of how lucky they are. It’s so easy for us to forget how good we have it. Sometimes I’m like, how horrible, I spilled my coffee and can’t find parking at Whole Foods and then I catch myself because there are people who have lost everything and have not received the aid they should be receiving after months and months. Even little things like access to communication and information are things that many people don’t have, sometimes not ever. I’ve noticed the more I practice gratitude, the more I can lead with love, and I hope people get just a little of that feeling from the items—myself included!
Nerds and Beyond: Other than the money raised, how do you think a campaign like this can affect change in the world?
Shoshannah Stern: I think awareness may sometimes be more important than just money. We’re so used to seeing what we see that we forget that there’s a lot we don’t see—not because we don’t want to see it, but because we can’t. But once you do, you can’t unsee it. When I talk about stuff like the specific challenges that the deaf community has when it comes to aid, people always say, oh wow, I never thought about that. It’s not that they didn’t want to think about it, it’s just because it doesn’t happen to them. It’s not in their scope. And I think widening your scope, that’s what triggers change.
Nerd and Beyond: What are your hopes/goals for 2018?
Shoshannah Stern: To keep pushing myself to be better.
Nerds and Beyond: How do you think representation of deaf people in media is affecting consideration for deaf people’s wants/needs, especially with natural disasters like Hurricane Maria?
Shoshannah Stern: I honestly don’t know. I think while representation is gaining traction in the media, it isn’t moving as quickly in other areas. There’s a lot more red tape and structure to things like relief work and aid from what little I’ve learned. I know if it was easier to change, people like Angela wouldn’t need to do the work she’s doing, but as far as we know, she’s the only person who is and she keeps having to go back. Her next relief mission to Puerto Rico is in June, and I think this makes five since Maria hit. I would hope that the more you see different kinds of people in the media, the more you’re going to notice them in your everyday life. The more stories that are told about them, the more you will realize they’re just like you. They could be you. They are you.
Nerds and Beyond: Finally, what would your lightsaber color be?
Shoshannah Stern: Yellow. Bright yellow.
— Stands (@Stands) April 13, 2018
Once again, thank you for your time, Shoshannah. We wish you the best with your campaign!
You can participate in the campaign here.