For many, 2016 was a disheartening year. Many celebrities passed away, including Alan Rickman, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, Prince, and more. Brexit passed, Twitter announced it was shutting down Vine, and the presidential election was one of the most controversial to date.
The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States caused many to believe that 2016 was the worst year in existence.
Jane Li, 20, created a crowdfunding campaign called “We Gon Be Alright 2017,” using this belief as her inspiration. Li wanted to find a way to inspire people experiencing distress due to the current social and political landscape.
Li is majoring in arts, technology and the business of innovation. She is part of the inaugural class at the Jimmy Iovine and Andrew Young Academy of the University of Southern California, where she is attending her third year of courses. She is also the founder of Walkinthese, a company which sells customized, hand-painted shoes.
By selling stickers that say “We Gon’ Be Alright,” Li’s ultimate campaign goal is to encourage others in 2017, reminding them of the importance of optimism and hope in difficult circumstances. Li says she will donate the proceeds from the stickers to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
“From presidential campaigns to multiple celebrity deaths, 2016 has been pretty disappointing for people of all different backgrounds. To help encourage people and set a more positive tone for 2017, I designed stickers to remind us that ‘We Gon’ Be Alright,’” Li posted on the campaign’s website.
Li set the total of $500 as a minimum goal for the project, since she wanted to donate at least that amount to the ADAA. The campaign has already reached $466 out of its $500 goal in just 23 days, and Li hopes that the project surpasses its initial goal.
“This is the first crowdfunding campaign I’ve done, so it’s really nice to be close. Hopefully I exceed my goal,” said Li.
Li says that the 2016 presidential election results are what prompted her to reflect on other occurrences from the year. This led to her motivation to create a campaign and give the proceeds to charity. A friend of Li’s used the ADAA to cope with his depression, so she knew that the organization was helpful.
“It just felt right and it matched my theme that this money should go toward a greater good that could affect even more people. I took an Intro to Psychology class last semester where I learned a lot about depression and other psychological disorders, so I felt like that had a really direct connection with the events that happened in 2016. I did a bunch of research on different organizations supporting mental health. [ADAA] really stood out to me because it offers free resources,” Li said.
When asked if her campaign was named after Kendrick Lamar’s song “Alright,” Li responded, “The campaign is not supposed to be named after his song. I was thinking of different ways I could express this feeling and that phrase just happened to fit better in my design because the words are shorter. Then I realized it was actually part of the song as well which is a song about hope, so I figured it would make sense to reach a larger scale of people.”
Li says she began her first draft of the stickers a few days after the election results. Then, she began to print prototype stickers over Thanksgiving and worked on refining her design. During winter break and Christmas, Li set the campaign up online and launched it on Jan. 1.
The general theme she would like people to take away from her campaign and its mission is that optimism for the future is important.
Li said, “I really would like people to feel like regardless of whatever situation they’re in, there’s a community out there who feels the same. There’s always going to be someone else who will be able to help you and I don’t people to feel discouraged.”
Sticker orders have not just been placed by college students, according to Li. People from across the country have purchased from her campaign: from Washington, D.C., to Ohio to Oklahoma.
In response to those who have criticized individuals upset by the election results, Li said that each person has their own way of processing things and hopes that the campaign can serve as a constructive way to do so.
“I think this is a way for people to deal with it, it’s just a more supportive way that doesn’t hurt people’s feelings. Everyone has different coping mechanisms,” said Li.
Li also encourages anyone looking to start a campaign to take the risk. “Just go for it! It’s kind of scary at first to email strangers. Once you get the hang of it, I think a lot of people will be supportive – especially if you’re a student and are trying something new.”
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