BY MACK VELTMAN
Fans of Star Wars welcomed a new website today, Project Stardust which launched to much hype after months of careful planning and online collaboration. A team of women created the site, blending their diverse voices and backgrounds with their love of a galaxy far away. Meg Dowell, the Founder/Editor-in-Chief, wrote this morning:
“Project Stardust is for every female/femme/NB to share their words. Their art. Their designs. LGBTQ+ creators don’t always get the love they deserve; we’re here to give it. Women of color don’t always get to show off the Star Wars things they’re making; we’re here to yell about it (and share all the links).”
Dowell, an experienced podcaster and writer in the Star Wars fandom, noted a lack of a safe and inclusive place where women could celebrate Star Wars together, and she wasn’t alone in this observation.
“I had a group of over 40 women begging me to start a Star Wars site — one led by women, for women. One that would promote positivity and inclusivity. And most importantly, a place where female creators could show off their Star Wars things. Because they’re beautiful things, and they deserve to be seen.” Dowell wrote in a blog post this morning.
Developing a website with a team during a pandemic which limited in person collaboration was surprising easy, according to Dowell.
“You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish when you have a team of 30 passionate women who want to change the world. I have to give most of the credit to Stephenie, our managing editor,” Dowell wrote.
“When I first sent a group message out to potential volunteers, I could tell right away that she was someone I wanted to work with closely to organize and facilitate everything. She helped me assemble the team, divide people up based on their interests, and solidify our mission and values – most of this all through Facebook Messenger.”
The biggest challenge was tuning out the hate and harassment they received- almost from day one of the website announcement, the team found themselves battling the amplified voices of some toxic fans who resorted to cyber-bullying, decrying the website as “sexist” and refusing to see the value of safe place for fans to come together. Dowell says that she is promoting self-care among the team, sending messages of encouragement, and sharing resources together.
“We are holding onto each other. Some of them are dealing with so much more fear and anxiety than should be necessary.” Dowell wrote.
“Being their ‘general’ so to speak I got hit pretty hard with some of the loudest of this negativity and I’ll be taking some time away from my screens this weekend to take care of myself. But then it’s back to work, because there’s so much more work to be done. It’s been a long road to get here and there’s no turning back now.”
You can check out Project Stardust’s website here. Follow Meg Dowell on Twitter (@MegDowell) for news and updates regarding the site and episodes of her Star Wars podcast, StarbirdDawn.