“This is a “let’s do it” guide to action, an accessible and well-illustrated collection of strategies ideal for artists (and non-artists alike) who are willing to put themselves out there for the common good.”

Ken Krafchek, Graduate Director, MFA in Community Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art

The Project

What is Beautiful Trouble?

Beautiful Trouble is a book, web toolbox and international network of artist-activist trainers whose mission is to make grassroots movements more creative and more effective.

A collaborative effort by 70 artist-activists-strategists and 10+ leading creative campaign organizations including the YesMen/YesLab, Ruckus Society, Other 98% and others, the project is already a success. Praised by Naomi Klein as “elegant and incendiary,” the book is being used by campaigns and classrooms across North America and Europe; it just sold its 10,000th copy, and is being translated into seven languages. A beta of the web toolbox (you’re looking at it) is now online, and offers all the book content (and more) to the public under a creative commons license.

Who are we exactly?

The people who came together to write Beautiful Trouble stayed together and became a community: an extraordinary alliance of artists, trainers and creative campaigners who continue to make, teach, and celebrate game-changing creative activism in several exciting ways:

Training Network

At the 2 year mark, we’ve conducted over 30 trainings, expanded and diversified out training network, field-tested a series of curricula, assembled a trainer’s handbook, and built a beta version of an open-source library of training tools.

We’ve had notable early successes: in LA, bringing a new creative edge to the fight for fast food worker rights; and in NYC, giving voice to the grassroots wave that ushered mayor DeBlasio into office. And we’re just coming off of a robust five months on both sides of the Atlantic with a series of trainings and creative capacity building efforts in support of the People’s Climate Mobilization in New York, a 5-day creative action intensive in Budapest, a 2 day workshop in Paris for climate activists, along with workshops from Mississippi to Maine to Myanmar.

Read our latest training news.

Beautiful Solutions (@be_solutions)

In partnership with senior staff from the New Economy Coalition, a second book is in the works: Beautiful Solutions: A Toolbox for the Future. Building off the groundbreaking model of the original, the new book will focus on constructive solutions, gathering the most promising and contagious strategies for building a more just, democratic and resilient world. In partnership with Naomi Klein, we recently launched an online “solutions gallery” housed alongside the website for her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. We’re also working with The Other 98% to turn book modules into inspiring solution stories that can vastly expand the reach of the project.

Beautiful Rising (@BeautRising)

We’ve teamed up with the international NGO ActionAid to convene front-line activists from hotspots across the Global South. Adapting the Beautiful Trouble methodology, we will help participants map the approaches and tactical innovations that have been most effective at addressing the challenges faced by Global South movements. We will then disseminate these strategies via an innovative toolbox for global changemakers.

Climate Action Lab (@climateribbon)

BT’s Climate Action Lab is an incubator of exemplary creative interventions to advance climate justice. Most recently, we brought the Climate Ribbon to the streets of New York during the People’s Climate March. Dubbed “an AIDS Quilt for the Climate Justice movement,” the project has since been inundated with requests from communities and congregations seeking to host their own climate ribbon ceremonies. We’re assembling a DIY Kit and making plans for future large-scale climate mobilizations in the lead up to Paris and beyond.

Is the book available in other languages?

Certainly! A Spanish version of the pocket edition was published in early 2014, and a Portuguese version is available in Brazil. A German translation of the pocket edition hit the shelves in November 2014, and Turkish, French, Russian, and Arabic versions will follow in 2015. There’s also a special Canadian version! Most of the foreign editions feature brand new case studies written by local artist-activists showcasing the most creative social change efforts in each country.

How can I get involved?

Learn more about how to get involved here, and reach out to us at getintouch at beautifultrouble dot org.

Are you looking for funding?

Yes! The above are just some of the ways we’re sharpening and amplifying the efforts of the social movements we serve, and we’re still gaining steam. The project generates a third of its needed revenue through book royalties and training fees. To help us secure the other two-thirds, we keenly welcome the support of foundations and individual donors.

Beautiful Trouble is pleased to be fiscally sponsored by Backbone Campaign. All U.S. donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. Please consider making a donation, or contact our Executive Director, Andrew Boyd: andrew at beautifultrouble dot org for more information.