Art of Activism book

The Art of Activism Interview

Read an interview with Steve Lambert and Stephen Duncombe of the Center for Artistic Activism. I talk to them about their new book, “The Art of Activism,” and the importance of incorporating both visionary creativity and rational strategic planning into social change campaigns. “All effective activism has to involve creativity and culture,” Lambert tells me.

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Planting Seeds of Resistance in Zimbabwe

Formed in November 2018, the Better Bulawayo Initiative is using creative, low-risk protest measures to agitate for better city services. Their goal is to address the kinds of simple but important issues that affect the lives of residents every day, like access to clean water, better sanitation services, regular garbage collection and safer roads.

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Various images about militarism & social change

My “New” Website

The Fragments website features videos, graphics, stories and essays. Unlike the Nonviolence 3.0 blog, where I feel constrained to focus primarily on civil resistance strategy and tactics, Fragments allows me to post content of a more creative nature. The aim is to merge art and activism in the belief that creativity and culture can drive political transformation.

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Planting tufts of grass in giant pothole

Creative Nonviolence in Zimbabwe

Read excerpts from some interviews I did with a couple of activists in Zimbabwe who are trying to create social change while living under an authoritarian government. They give their thoughts about the benefits of using nonviolence to confront a violent state, the advantages of using creative protests, and the stupidity of property destruction and riots.

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Blue wave

Elections in Desperate Times

Takeaways: ◆ Elections can sometimes bring superficial reforms, but they can’t create real change.◆ After the Big Blue Wave, what then? Business (interests) as usual.◆ Trump is not the enemy—the system is.◆ Fight the necessary battles in front of you, but don’t lose sight of your North Star. My Dream (Yours is Probably Different) I don’t believe in representative democracy. I believe in direct democracy.

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Macedonia protest

No More Boring Protests!

Takeaways: Read an interview with the Center for Artistic Activism (C4AA). Founded by artist Steve Lambert and scholar Stephen Duncombe, C4AA has been teaching artists and activists how to blend art and activism for almost ten years. Boring vs. Creative “How about Support the Troops—Bring Them Home Now,” said Margaret, a middle-aged woman who was new to activism. “That’s not really a tactic,” I offered.

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Storytime cartoon

Telling Stories for Social Change

Takeaways: In social change campaigns, it is often the side with the most compelling story that wins. Stories are how we organize reality. The narratives we tell ourselves define our identity. Stories determine how we think, what we believe and how we relate to the world. Changing the Story You watch from the audience as the executive from the giant multinational corporation taps his pen

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King in front of crowd

The King Who Ruled Nothing

Moral of the story: even the most powerful leaders are dependent on the people they rule over. ***** Once upon a time there lived a cruel king who ruled without mercy. He was the most powerful king in the world, with a mighty army and an enormous kingdom. One day the general of his army came to him with some rather bad news. “Your Majesty,”

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Naked Trump statue

Guerrilla Art: An Interview with INDECLINE

In his book Tactical Performance, L.M. Bogad makes an interesting observation about an axiom of contemporary military strategy and its relevance to social movements. In military parlance, the ground war involves the taking and holding of territory using infantry soldiers. The air war, as you might guess, makes use of aircraft to inflict destruction on the enemy from above. While only ground troops can actually

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Billionaires protest

Use Humor to Open Minds

Takeaways: Humorous actionscan jolt people out of their comfort zone and open minds. Forceful arguments don’t persuade people. Use an indirect approach to challenge entrenched beliefs. Examples of activist humor: Otpor t-shirts and Billionaires for Bush. Humor carries risks and should be used prudently. Challenging Entrenched Beliefs Civil resistance actions can have many different purposes. But one goal is often to persuade the general public

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Trump as clown

Laughing at Authority

A few years ago Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then president of Iran, spoke at Columbia University. I heard a clip from that speech on the radio that stuck in my mind. The authoritarian leader was answering a question about the treatment of gay people in his country. This is what he said: “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. (Laughter.) We don’t have that

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