” … an informative and inspiring how-to handbook of direct, confrontational social activism … “Dennis Hiebert, Geez magazine
“This workshop was so clearly approached from a place of beauty, positivity and love that it created a solid foundation for everyone to feel great about woking together, dreaming together, and imagining potential. Struggle is out. Beauty is in.” —Garret O’Connor, Change to Win Lead Organizer
In a first time collaborative effort, Beautiful Trouble, The Yes Lab, and the Center for Artistic Activism came together to deliver a two-day Creative Action Training for 50+ activists and artists at NYU’s Hemispheric Institute.
Participants hailed from over 20 organizations, including community, labor, and student groups focusing on issues like healthcare, local food access, public art, and raising service-sector wages. This blending of issue areas gave rise to a new model for Beautiful Trouble’s public trainings — one where trainings could be initiated in partnership with multiple local orgs and geared towards a broader audience (as opposed to our standard training model wherein trainings are anchored by a single organization, issue or campaign).
In spite of differences in style and focus, the three veteran training organizations miraculously gelled their approaches into a single, complementary curriculum creating a valuable experience for the over 50 trainees who attended the all-weekend workshop.
“Terry and the Steves” from the Center for Artistic Activism guided participants through a powerful visually-based visioning exercise, helping participants find a pragmatic path to their very own utopia.
BT’s veteran direct action trainer Monica Hunken amped things up with a series of dynamic body-oriented theater exercises before leading everyone out onto the streets for a powerful street theater action inside a climate change-fueling bank, and then, um, on to a local bar :-) .
On the second day, we jumped straight into action design. Teams engaged in “pitches” and fishbowl feedback exercises led by the Yes Lab, and participants fleshed out their creative action ideas. After the unveiling of the Action Switchboard — the Yes Lab’s game-changing DIY online creative action planning tool — participants crafted their ideas into shareable schemes. “What excites me is the ability to connect with other people who might want to help pull off an action,” said Steven Renderos from the Center for Media Justice, as he uploaded his team’s plan into the web interface. In fact, many of the ideas concocted during the two-day workshop — including a social-justice league of progressive super-heroes and a pirate boat prepared to commit civil disobedience by delivering affordable (but banned) generic pharmaceuticals — are now happening in the world.
And beautiful trouble marches on…