Why Activists Need Art To Create Social Change

“The Art of Activism: Your All-Purpose Guide to Making the Impossible Possible” by Stephen Duncombe and Steve Lambert compiles knowledge the authors have gleaned from training hundreds of activists and artists around the world over the last 12 years. Their main message? Because today’s political terrain is one of signs, symbols, stories and spectacles, activists must learn to operate in that cultural space if they hope to change the world.

Although a free companion workbook is available for those looking to sharpen their practical skills, “The Art of Activism” is more than a nuts and bolts “how-to” guide. Duncombe and Lambert also deliver thought-provoking discussions on the theoretical underpinnings of artistic activism, drawing on fields as diverse as marketing, cognitive science and pop culture.

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Resisting The Propaganda Of Status Quo Defenders

First came the new names—Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and others—all added one by one to the long list of tragic, unjustifiable police killings of Black Americans. Then came the batons, the pepper spray, the tear gas, the flash-grenades, the helicopters, the armored vehicles, and the rubber bullets wielded against nonviolent Black Lives Matter protesters across the United States, from Minneapolis to New York City to Portland. And then came the chorus of privileged beneficiaries of our country’s discriminatory status quo, denying and defending the reality of brutal, racist, militarized, and unaccountable over-policing.

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Fortress On A Hill: Interview With Robert ‘Bob’ Scheer Part II

Okay, let me answer a question that was raised before we got into this and some of the thoughts that Danny, connected with me, how do you get social change? And what is the role of electoral politics and so forth. And here I will draw upon my 84 years on this earth because I am old, I can remember from my childhood when I was 234 years old, that Roosevelt was not doing enough to get us out of the depression and This was already his second term. And the stuff that he was doing only became because you had the veterans marches. You had trade unions submerging the industrial unions. You had people protesting major Danny said I was a red diaper, baby. Yes. My parents were union activists. My father had been a wobbly. He was something I then he was a social democrat. And then he flirted with a few months with communists or something.

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Meet The Group Making DC Streets Safer Through Do-It-Yourself Urbanism

The DC Department of Transformation—not to be confused with the District Department of Transportation—is helping cyclists and pedestrians one plunger, or traffic cone, or ad hoc handstand, at a time. What started off as a Twitter account aimed at rectifying problems with city infrastructure, @DCDOTRA has grown into a prime example of tactical urbanism. And the great thing is: Anyone can participate. I talked to the founder of the account (who will remain anonymous by their request—many of their projects are not technically legal) about what DC DOTRA is doing…

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Will The Real Gene Sharp Please Step Forward?

In a recent interview with Jacobin, lawyer and political activist Marcie Smith expands on an essay she wrote earlier this year calling Gene Sharp — the late founder of nonviolent theory — “one of the most important Cold War defense intellectuals the U.S. has produced.” Unfortunately, the interview, much like her essay, miss him by a mile. To be fair, I’ll admit that Gene — a mentor and friend from when we were both young adults — was not an easy guy to figure out. Both his role and his project puzzled many.

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We Must Be Strategic To Win Social Change

We have more power than we think. But we’ve got to go beyond the “protest-petition-call officials-vote” routine. Think outside that box, and you’ll find a world of creative solutions and strategies to tap into. I’d like to issue a challenge to all of our nonprofits and organizing groups to at least employ a one-for-one strategy. If you’re going to ask people to call public officials or join a large protest, add a second strategy that uses an organized, sustained, and strategic act of noncooperation and/or intervention targeted at a second group of power holders. The time has come to double down on strategy and make great strides toward change.

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When Times Get Dark, We Must Shine Brighter

By David Suzuki for David Suzuki Foundation – Are we entering a new Dark Age? Lately it seems so. News reports are enough to make anyone want to crawl into bed and hide under the covers. But it’s time to rise and shine. To resolve the crises humanity faces, good people must come together. It’s one lesson from Charlottesville, Virginia. It would be easy to dismiss the handful of heavily armed, polo-shirted, tiki-torch terrorists who recently marched there if they weren’t so dangerous and representative of a disturbing trend that the current U.S. president and his administration have emboldened. Racism, hatred and ignorance aren’t uniquely American. Fanatics acting out of fear — of anyone who holds different political or religious views, of losing their real or imagined privilege, of change itself — are everywhere. But whether they’re religious or political extremists or both, all have much in common. They’re intolerant of other viewpoints and try to dehumanize those who are different; they believe in curtailing women’s and minority rights even though they claim to oppose big government; they espouse violence; and they reject the need for environmental protection.

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Rise Up: The Game Of People & Power

By Staff of TESA Collective – Lead a march of thousands of people. Write a protest song that goes viral. Fight for what you believe in. Rise Up is a cooperative board game about building people power and taking on oppressive systems to create change. It’s ethically manufactured and made by the creators of Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives. In each game of Rise Up, players take creative actions to fight for victory. Everyone wins or loses together. The game weaves a story about your movement, which can either be based in reality (like stopping an oil pipeline) or fictional (like fighting for dragon rights). But “the System” is hard at work too, maneuvering to crush your movement through tactics like setting up surveillance, making arrests, or causing infighting. A great choice for game nights with friends and family, Rise Up is an alternative to many mainstream board games that feature themes of conquest, exploitation, and warfare. It’s a strategy game that can only be won through player collaboration. And we’ve done something innovative: just flip the board over, and you’ll be able to play Rise Up Simplified, a version that’s quicker to learn and that has simpler rules. Rise Up Simplified is appropriate for younger kids and people who have less experience with games.

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Why Social Change Needs To Be A Laughing Matter

By Molly Wallace for Waging Nonviolence – Struggles against human rights abuses or militarism are rarely linked — in thought or discussion — to humor. As serious matters, they deserve serious, strategic thinking about how to dismantle the power structures that enable them. But what if humor itself is a powerful tool for doing so? In “Laughing on the Way to Social Change,” in the January 2017 issue of Peace & Change, Majken Jul Sørensen explores this possibility in the context of three recent examples of activism in Sweden and Belarus, asking how the use of humor affects the way nonviolent action operates — particularly its ability to disrupt dominant discourses and therefore challenge power. In the first example, two Swedish activists flew an airplane through Belarusian airspace, dropping 879 parachuted teddy bears with signs reading, “We support the Belarusian struggle for free speech.” A response to an earlier action where Belarusian activists assembled stuffed animals in a central square — bearing signs like, “Where is freedom of the press?” — the parachuting bears ultimately resulted in two Belarusian officials being fired. The second and third involved a Swedish anti-militarist network called Ofog, or “mischief.” In response to NATO military exercises in Sweden, Ofog created a “company” whose purpose was to make these exercises more realistic by providing civilian casualties.

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Power, Politics, & Social Change

By G. William Domhoff for UCSC – Welcome to WhoRulesAmerica.net, a site about how power is distributed and wielded in the United States. It both builds upon and greatly supplements the book Who Rules America?, now in its 7th edition. The book’s new subtitle, “The Triumph of the Corporate Rich,” reflects the success of the wealthy few in defeating all of their rivals (e.g., organized labor, liberals, environmentalists) over the course of the past 35 years. The story of how the corporate rich won all the big battles is complicated, but most of the answers are in the new Who Rules America?and/or this Web site; there’s also a YouTube video of Bill giving an invited lecture on the topic.

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10 New Ways Other Countries Are Actually Solving Problems

By Larry Schwartz for AlterNet – The Presidential candidates have been sounding off for almost two years now, pointing out (or in many cases manufacturing) all of America’s problems, and offering solutions they believe will make them the next President. The candidates, especially to the right of the political spectrum, extoll America as being exceptional, and they score empty points with voters by talking about how the rest of the planet looks to the United States to solve the world’s woes. It is surprising, then, to see how many of these seemingly intractable problems are being far more effectively tackled by the countries we are supposed to be “leading”.

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What Role Were You Born To Play In Social Change?

By George Lakey for Waging Nonviolence – Bill Moyer was a street-wise, working class white boy from rowhouse Philadelphia, who — in the turbulence of the 1960s — went to Chicago to work for an anti-racist housing campaign. He wound up joining Martin Luther King Jr.’s national staff as an organizer. I played tag football more than once with Moyer, catching his grin as he mercilessly overwhelmed his opponents through daring and smarts. He might have been the most joyfully aggressive Quaker I’ve known. By the time he died in 2002, Moyer had given significant leadership on multiple political issues, including the national anti-nuclear movement.

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The Rumble From The People Can Work

By Staff of The Nader Page – If only the people who engage in “road rage” would engage in “corporate rage” when they are harmed by cover-ups or hazardous products and gouging services, aloof CEOs would start getting serious about safety and fair play. With press report after press report documenting how big business stiffs millions of its consumers and workers, why is it that more of these victims do not externalize some of their inner agonies by channeling them into civic outrage? It has happened on occasion and with good results. After Candy Lightner lost her daughter to a drunk driver, she founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in 1980 as the only way she could deal with her intense grief.

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6 Powerful Music Videos That Tackled Pressing Social Issues In 2015

By Samantha Cowan for Take Part – From Bob Dylan’s “Blowin in the Wind” to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” musicians have a long history of incorporating protest and social issues into their songs. And just like in 1963 and 1989, 2015 was no different. Hip-hop artists rapped about ending police brutality and advocated for better treatment for refugees. Singers lent their voices to victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Other musicians contemplated free health care and marriage equality. As seen in the music videos below, the artists used different visual tactics—stark black-and-white, cheery animation, and even an epic dance party—but each encouraged fans to challenge the status quo.

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11 Ways The World Got Better In 2015

By Angus Hervey for The Independent – As 2015 draws to a close, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’d claim that it’s been a good year for the human race. The bad news has been relentless: war in Syria, a refugee crisis in Turkey and Europe, earthquakes in Nepal, terrorist attacks in Paris, mass shootings in the US, floods in India.With the media screaming blue murder and social media feeds filled with complaints about how selfish/materialistic/short-sighted our fellow human beings are, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the world is going to hell in a handcart.

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