Purple Root Collective was an idea that took up residence in my creative consciousness about a couple years ago. It thrived off childhood memories of afternoons I would construct makeshift books (I would dictate stories to my auntie who typed them out on my mom’s typewriter. Afterwards, I gleefully added illustrations) and post-college evenings churning out angry grrrl zines when the women’s crisis line I was working at remained dormant. I still have copies of the second issue of my zine featuring an interview I did of a Japanese American woman in San Francisco who attempted to work through her trauma history by stripping and then later channeling it through performance art. I didn’t realize it then, but interviewing would later become a vital component of the work I do on a daily basis.
It wasn’t until graduate school that I really got to hone my interview skills. My doctoral dissertation was a collection of in-depth interviews with nine Filipino mail-order brides. If it weren’t such a monster of a project, I would have to say it was probably one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life. I would’ve traveled all over the country to get a more diverse set of women, but as luck –and FAFSA– would have it, my wallet confined me to the borders of the San Francisco Bay Area. Which was fine, because surprisingly enough, I was able to find women who fit my criteria with no problem! The farthest I traveled was Sacramento where I sat through a Tagalog sermon at Kingdom Hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses with the woman I was supposed to interview. I understood virtually nothing that was being said during that sermon, but it was a taste of what it was like to be in the field away from sterile classroom walls, away from playing by the book. From then on, the interviewing bug was imbedded deep in my psyche.