” … an informative and inspiring how-to handbook of direct, confrontational social activism … “Dennis Hiebert, Geez magazine
“One of the best trainings I’ve ever been to. A perfect coupling of art and activism.” T, from Slovakia.
On the eve of a worldwide climate mobilization, and with the Polish coal lobby blocking more aggressive emission limits for all of Europe, we sent our four top European trainers to Budapest to give Central and Eastern European climate organizers a creative shot in the arm.
“There was a tangible feeling of decades of movement experience being passed on.” T, from Budapest
The training brought together young people from Slovakia to the Ukraine, from dictatorships to (so-called) democracies, from war-torn countries to climate denying governments. For five days, this diverse groups of climate activists dug hard into the toolbox of principles and theories at the heart of Beautiful Trouble.
“I left feeling creative and able to change the world… it went far beyond all my expectations.” Y, from Ukraine
The training was hands-on and multi-dimensional: Deep ecology exercises to touch the emotional pain of climate injustices were mixed with theoretical (yet hilarious) presentations on the role of comedy in activism; surreal group building games such as Autonomous Penguins followed on from presentations about the role of direct action and the history of civil rights movements; a Beautiful Trouble principles BINGO game punctuated the day amidst discussions of what art can bring to activism and vice versa.
The training, done in partnership with 350.org and Global Call for Climate Action, with additional support from Avaaz, was the debut of Beautiful Trouble’s European training program, and its core four trainers, Isa Fremeaux, John Jordan, Oriana Eliçabe and Leónidas Martín Saura.
The workshop culminated on the streets of Budapest in a 1,000 person demonstration against the raiding of liberal NGO’s by the right wing government who see them as “fronts for leftist influence from abroad.” Two huge photographic cutouts of hands — generated during the creative imagery section of BT’s training — became the main symbolic image of the protest. They appeared on Hungarian news and TV were also picked-up internationally by the news agency AFP.
The action was the perfect culmination of the workshop, a true hands on experience where young activists were able to see how a bit of creativity and some thinking outside the boring box of marches and hash tag activism can lead to front page news images and a lot of fun.
This piece was co-authored by Chelsea Byers and John Jordan.