” … a useful and impressive compendium of decades of distilled practical knowledge.”

Justin Jacoby Smith, Red Pepper

Case Studies

Capsule stories of successful creative actions.

99% bat signal

Contributed by

A coalition of labor unions had called for a national day of action on November 17 to push back against austerity and demand infrastructure improvements and jobs. Actions were planned for seventeen bridges in seventeen cities. In New York City, a permit was obtained for a large rally in the   …Continue Reading


Barbie Liberation Organization

Contributed by

On Christmas day in 1993, kids were finding more than they bargained for under their trees: Mattel’s new talking Barbie dolls growled “Dead men tell no lies,” while Hasbro’s macho GI Joe’s chirped “I love to shop with you.” Enter the Barbie Liberation Organization, a self-described group of “veterans against   …Continue Reading


Battle in Seattle

Contributed by

In 1999, the World Trade Organization decided to hold global capitalism’s board meeting in Seattle, WA. Most Americans had never heard of the WTO before, but savvy organizers across a spectrum of single-issue silos, including labor, environmental, human rights and others, decided that they would team up and act like   …Continue Reading


Bidder 70 (Tim DeChristopher)

Contributed by and

In December 2008, word got out about an illegal Bureau of Land Management auction of oil and gas leases for drilling near beautiful Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah. The auction was Bush’s parting gift to his good friends in industry. Student Tim DeChristopher set out with the intention of physically disrupting the event, but   …Continue Reading


Billionaires for Bush

Contributed by , and

“Some people call you the elite,” George W. Bush joked to his wealthy funders, “I call you my base.” Whether candidate Bush meant it as a joke or not, the Billionaires for Bush (B4B) campaign used humor, street theater and creative media actions to show the country how true the   …Continue Reading


Brazil’s Free Fare Movement

Contributed by and

Ten years ago in Brazil, a horizontal, autonomous, independent and non-partisan movement called the Free Fare Movement (Movimento Passe Livre) was formed to fight for free, high-quality public transportation. Since then, every time a municipal government in Brazil has tried to increase public transportation fares, the Free Fare Movement has   …Continue Reading


Champions of Unemployment

Contributed by and

In June 2013, Barcelona’s city council shocked residents by renting out the iconic Columbus Monument to two multinational companies to use as a billboard — just another case of public goods being sold off or rented while private companies make massive profits. Immediately thereafter, those two companies put an enormous   …Continue Reading


Citizen’s Posse

Contributed by

In early spring of 2010, the prospects of the U.S. Congress passing comprehensive health care reform were looking bleak. The Democrats had caved on the public option, the Blue Dogs were turning red, and Democratic leaders weren’t sure if they had the votes to pass anything. Most of the mainstream   …Continue Reading


Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army

Contributed by

To some, the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA) might appear to be but a ragged bunch of activists sporting false noses, a smudge of grease paint, camouflage pants and bad wigs. And those people may be right. But it is also a highly disciplined army of professional clowns, a   …Continue Reading


Colbert roasts Bush

Contributed by

Every year, a celebrity, often a comedian, is invited to roast the President at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, an annual gathering of journalists who regularly cover the White House and the President. But it isn’t every year that the President has “that look that he’s ready to blow,” as   …Continue Reading


Conflict Kitchen

Contributed by

Believing that the quickest way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, Conflict Kitchen seeks to build cross-cultural understanding and promote peace by introducing people to the food and culture of places with which their government is in conflict. Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the brainchild of artist/activists Jon   …Continue Reading


Countering Homophobic Policing in the UK

Contributed by

In the UK in the 1980s, thousands of men were being continually prosecuted for consensual gay behavior — a level of institutionalized police and judicial discrimination greater than any other European Community member at the time. In 1989, convictions for “gross indecency” (a consensual, gay-only offense) were more than three   …Continue Reading


Day care center sit-in

Contributed by

Low-income tenants at a public housing project in Rhode Island — many of them working mothers with young children — wanted an affordable day care center in their building. With petitions, pickets, and letters to the city council, they built up a steady drumbeat of pressure on the key decision   …Continue Reading


Dow Chemical apologizes for Bhopal

Contributed by

On the twentieth anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, when an industrial gas leak killed thousands of people, a spokesperson for the company responsible appeared live on BBC World News and announces the impossible: Dow accepted full responsibility for the Bhopal disaster, and had created a $12 billion dollar plan to   …Continue Reading


Harry Potter Alliance

Contributed by

In 2005, I was amazed by the Harry Potter fan-phenomenon. The franchise was the highest selling work of fiction in the history of literature. It cut across cultures. Besides the Koran, it was the most requested book in the Guantánamo Bay prison. Fans invested enormous resources into conferences, wrote reams   …Continue Reading


Idle No More and the Round Dance Flash Mob

Contributed by

“The round dance flash mobs represented both a powerful expression of resistance and a practice of cultural regeneration.”


Justice for Janitors (D.C.)

Contributed by

In 1994, after ten years of organizing, the Janitors Union in Washington, D.C., had only organized about twenty percent of the commercial real estate buildings downtown — not nearly enough to put upward pressure on wages in the sector. A change in strategy was required. Over the next two years,   …Continue Reading


Lysistrata Project

Contributed by

It was early 2003. In the face of unprecedented global public opposition, the Bush Administration was moving relentlessly toward an illegal and unjustified war with Iraq. Desperate to stop the war, people all over the world were seeking creative ways to voice their opposition. Inspired by the recently organized New   …Continue Reading


Mining the museum

Contributed by

In 1992, a huge sign was hanging from the façade of the Maryland Historical Society announcing that “another” history was now being told inside. The sign referred to African-American artist Fred Wilson’s exhibition project “Mining the Museum,” which presented the museum’s collection in a new, critical light. Incorporated in 1844,   …Continue Reading


Modern-Day Slavery Museum

Contributed by

In December 2008, farm labor contractors Cesar and Geovanni Navarrete were each sentenced to twelve years in prison for their part in what U.S. Attorney Doug Molloy called “slavery, plain and simple.” According to the Justice Department, the employers “pleaded guilty to beating, threatening, restraining, and locking workers in trucks   …Continue Reading


Park(ing) Day

Contributed by

Who knows what exciting initiatives might come about thanks to the efforts of par(k)ticipants inspired and excited by all the ways a parking space could be put to use!


Pimp My… Carroça!

Contributed by , , and

Carroça is the Portuguese word for carriage — that is, a wheeled vehicle for conveying people, often drawn by horses, and designed for comfort and elegance. Curiously, in Brazil this word also refers to the ramshackle carts that some human beings are compelled to use. These are the collectors of   …Continue Reading


Public Art Nanny Hotline

Contributed by

Nannies, housekeepers, and elder care providers have long been excluded from basic labor protections in the United States, but thankfully, this is now starting to change. In 2010, New York passed the very first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, followed by Hawaii and California, with other states soon to follow.   …Continue Reading


Public Option Annie

Contributed by

By the fall of 2009, with Sarah Palin tweeting about “death panels” and town hall meetings overrun by angry teabaggers up in arms (literally) about a supposed “government takeover of healthcare,” progressives had officially lost control of the healthcare debate. Could a daring creative action that brought the fight directly   …Continue Reading


Pyramid of Shoes (to protest landmines)

Contributed by

“The pyramid of shoes worked because it was visually arresting, emotionally powerful, and easy both to participate in and to understand.”

“…the sculpture that arose from the accumulation of each of these simple acts, told a big, complex story that captured the scale of the problem.”


Québec student strike

Contributed by

On March 22, 2012, hundreds of thousands took the streets, marking the first of what would become monthly mass demonstrations backing the strike.


Reclaim the Streets

Contributed by

Reclaim the Streets (RTS) began as creative activist group in London, but its tactics, blending party and protest, soon spread around the world. Merging the direct action of Britain’s anti-road building movement and the carnivalesque nature of the counter-cultural rave scene, RTS became a catalyst for the global anti-capitalist movements   …Continue Reading


Santa Claus Army

Contributed by

In the lead-up to Christmas 1974, an army of about seventy Santa Clauses, male and female, paraded through the city of Copenhagen, singing carols, handing out sweets and hot chocolate, and asking everyone what they wanted for Christmas. After spending a few days cementing the good image of good old   …Continue Reading


Small gifts

Contributed by

Small gifts is a series of interventions that introduces new spaces for conversation and generosity within shopping centers. The series was conceived as a way of presenting concepts of radical generosity to people who might otherwise not think of themselves as political. Some of the questions that this series addressed   …Continue Reading


Standing Man

Contributed by

“They asked me whether I was waiting for someone. Did I have a problem? I remained calm and mute. I didn’t have a problem, but in the following hours, as my picture and the mysterious alias “Standing Man” spread on Twitter, I became one.”


Stolen Beauty boycott campaign

Contributed by

A group of American and Israeli women enter the Ahava cosmetics shop in the Tel Aviv Hilton. Sporting bikinis, they smear mud on their bodies, scrawling the words “Stolen Beauty” and “No Love in Ahava.” Questions are asked, a dialogue begins. A few weeks later at a “Tel Aviv Beach   …Continue Reading


Streets into gardens

Contributed by

In the spring of 1999, real estate values in New York’s East Village and Lower East Side neighborhoods were skyrocketing, in no small part due to the beautiful network of communitygardens in the area. In a massive giveaway to corporate developers, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced he would auction off 198   …Continue Reading


Taco Bell boycott

Contributed by

For years, workers in Florida’s tomato fields have endured poverty wages and terrible working conditions. In 1993, a small, community-based organization called the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) formed to demand an end to these unfair labor practices. By 2005, they had won a boycott campaign against Taco Bell, one   …Continue Reading


Tar sands action

Contributed by and

Because tar sands oil emits four times the carbon dioxide as standard crude, renowned climate scientist James Hanson has declared that if the Canadian tar sands were fully developed, it would be “essentially game over for the climate.” Seeking to draw a line in the (tar) sands, activists successfully organized   …Continue Reading


The Big Donor Show

Contributed by

De Grote Donorshow, a hoax TV program presented as a reality show, stands as one of the most effective and unique public awareness campaigns in recent years. The premise of the show was that a terminally ill woman would donate her kidney to the most worthy person of a group of people needing kidney transplants.   …Continue Reading


The Couple in the Cage

Contributed by

Performance artists Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Coco Fusco started their “The Couple in the Cage” tour five hundred years after Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. For two years, they travelled through various Western metropolises, presenting themselves as undiscovered Amerindians from an island in the Gulf of Mexico that had somehow   …Continue Reading


The Nihilist Democratic Party

Contributed by and

The Nihilist Democratic Party (NDP) was founded by a group of philosophy graduates and students who decided to run for public office on a nihilist platform. Fed up with the state of Danish politics, the students constructed an absurd political position, ironically claiming that the nihilism within religion and science   …Continue Reading


The Salt March

Contributed by

Any collection of creative actions worth its salt would include a reference to Gandhi’s famous march — and the conversation would be flavored with strategic and practical lessons still resonant today. In 1930, the Indian National Congress adopted satyagraha (essentially, nonviolent protest) as their main tactic in their campaign for   …Continue Reading


The Teddy Bear Catapult

Contributed by

It was a classic summit protest at the height of the anti-globalization movement. Thirty-four heads of state from across the Americas were gathering in Québec City to negotiate the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a sweeping trade deal with deeply anti-democratic provisions. Protests had been called, tens of   …Continue Reading


Trail of Dreams

Contributed by

On January 1, 2010, four immigrant youth leaders (Carlos Roa, Felipe Matos, Juan Rodriguez and myself) embarked on a 1,500 mile walk from Miami, Florida to Washington, D.C. The long-term goal of this arduous journey was to put a human face on the immigration debate and counteract the effect of   …Continue Reading


Virtual Streetcorners

Contributed by

From “red-lining” in the ’50s to busing in the ’70s and recent police harassment of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Boston has been a crucible of racial tension in America for decades. Typical of many large cities, segregation along ethnic and class lines still often determines where people live and how they   …Continue Reading


Whose Tea Party?

Contributed by

Two Republican Congressmen, Dick Armey from Texas and Billy Tauzin of Louisiana, have come to Boston to promote their snake oil proposals for a flat tax and national sales tax, two initiatives that would dramatically shift the tax burden off the wealthy and onto low- and moderate-income working families. They’ve   …Continue Reading


Wisconsin Capitol occupation

Contributed by

From February 14 to early March 2011, opponents of Governor Scott Walker’s legislation to strip civic unions of collective bargaining rights filled Wisconsin’s state capitol with a non-stop protest that became one of the largest labor mobilizations in the U.S. in a generation. Though the protests were ultimately unsuccessful, they   …Continue Reading


World Record for the Number of People Shouting “No Vas a Tener Casa En La Puta Vida”

Contributed by and

On October 6, 2007, thousands of people gathered in front of city halls in various Spanish cities to break the world record for the number of people simultaneously shouting “No vas a tener casa en la puta vida!” (You’re never going to have a home in your fucking life!). How   …Continue Reading


Yomango

Contributed by

On July 5, 2002, a strange new brand began cropping up in the streets of Barcelona. That day, at the height of sales season, more than fifty people rushed through the center of Barcelona to the Bershka clothing store to perform the very first Yomango fashion show. The show lived   …Continue Reading