“Beautiful Trouble is essential reading for the socially engaged artist.”Ken Krafchek, Graduate Director, MFA in Community Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art
You’ve read the book, now bring the lessons home with hands-on, face-to-face trainings.
Invite the grassroots organizers, artists and strategists who wrote Beautiful Trouble to your community, and super-charge your organizing and actions with skilled trainings in strategic campaigning and creative tactics. Our network sprawls across the United States, Canada, and throughout the UK and Europe – and our partner organizations help us reach even further! If you’ve got a need, we will work hard to fulfill it.
Our trainings range from 1 ½ hours to 5 days; they typically include strategic planning, organizing tips, creative action tools, and network building opportunities in a highly experiential framework within a Popular Education foundation.
Rates vary depending on the length and particulars of the training being requested. (Check out this detailed rate breakdown.) In order to be accessible to activists of all backgrounds and economic levels, we try to offer a sliding scale or engage in joint fundraising when needed.
For more information about presentations, custom-designed workshops, multiple-day trainings, and longer-term strategic partnerships, simply email us.
In the meantime, take a look at some of our training offerings below .
Nonviolent direct action is when ordinary people ignore the “No Trespassing” sign and intervene directly on the stage of history. National liberation struggles, civil rights movements, labor unions, feminists, LGBTQ activists, environmentalists, and a host of other righteous folks have used creative direct action in order to win their demands for social justice. In this training we dig into what makes people power effective, including core principles, tools and theories such as action logic, decision dilemmas, and points of intervention. Then we put the “creative” in creative direct action by examining a host of outside-the-box tactics from flash mobs to prefigurative interventions. Finally, we take you through a set of case studies and exercises to prepare you for the challenges and exhilaration of creative action in your own campaigns.
Street Smarts: Nonviolent Direct Action Preparation
For groups who have identified strategic tactics or are preparing to deploy, this experiential jam session will highlight everything from scenario considerations to action team roles & responsibilities, safety, quick decision making, contingency plans, along with an exploration of pitfalls through intense hands on role plays and exercises. Emphasis on action specific safety, messaging, strategic choices, de-escalation skills and creative tactical deployment. Grounded in Nonviolent Action history and practice and based in data driven indicators of successful campaigns and movements, this will leave you energized, skillful, prepared for risk, and ready to wield people power as effectively and safely as possible.
Arts of Protest
“Art is not a mirror to reflect reality,” Bertolt Brecht famously said, “But a hammer with which to change it.” But how do we wield this hammer, and how do we hit our nail on the head? Artless action, however righteous, can quickly become dry and unappealing, while art for art’s sake is often politically ineffective. The Beautiful Trouble Arts & Action Training digs into the dynamic tension between the expressive value of art and the instrumental imperative of strategically targeted political actions. We look at a host of ways to integrate art into protest and collective action — to add flare to your platform and bring the party to your party line! It’s a how-to course that covers guerrilla theater, street bands, murals, wheat pasting, billboard alteration, giant puppets, beautiful banners, and more.
Humor, Pranks & Disruptions
Who can’t take a joke? Um, people in power who don’t have a sense of humor, maybe! A well-timed joke, prank, or creative interruption can prove highly embarrassing to our opponents, while simultaneously undermining their authority and amplifying our critique or campaign. The Beautiful Trouble Pranks & Disruptions Training looks at a host of effective — and often hilarious — creative interventions, from the reality-hacking antics of Yes Lab hoaxes to the emperor-has-no-clothes disruptions of CodePink to the scene-stealing street theater of Billionaires for Bush. The Jedi Mind Trick worked for Luke Skywalker and it can work for you too. Come find out how.
When you’re trying to change the world it’s easy to feel like a lone voice crying out in the wilderness, with no one listening. If we want to connect, we need to know our audience. We need to understand how different constituencies articulate their values, and what kinds of voices, stories, actions, and symbols are likely to really connect. Building on the innovative work of our partners, the Center for Story-based Strategy, the New Organizing Institute, and Beyond the Choir, this workshop explores story-based strategy tools and other techniques for identifying and connecting with your intended audiences, and developing strategic campaign messages. Then we look at all kinds of creative ways to broadcast your messages — everything from advanced leafleting and guerrilla projections to how to maintain message discipline when engaging with the press.
If you’ve read Beautiful Trouble, you’re now armed with a splendid arsenal of creative tactics. However, if you don’t have an overarching strategy that your tactics fit into, then you don’t know where to aim. Beautiful Trouble’s Strategic Planning workshops dig into fundamental organizing frameworks and key principles for developing and evaluating grassroots campaign strategies. Strategy is about figuring out the key steps needed to win. What is it we want? What are our big visionary goals, and what are winnable, measurable interim goals that we can reach along the way? In this training we introduce tools for analyzing who holds the power in your specific local situation. Who influences the power-holders, and who influences those influencers? How are we going to build power to reach them? We explore the concepts of political leverage and points of intervention. We examine case studies where social justice movements have built successful campaigns that strategically escalate, building more collective power, capacity, and leverage along the way — until victory!
We stand on the shoulders of giants. We draw inspiration and models from the pioneering popular education work of Paulo Freire, Theater of the Oppressed, The Highlander Center, and others that reject the mainstream “banking” education method (one person, usually a dude, standing in front of the room depositing his knowledge into students). Many of the exercises in our toolbox are based in popular education, a concept grounded in notions of class consciousness, political struggle, and social transformation. This model of teaching has a commitment to collective liberation, valuing what everyone brings to the work and acknowledging the intersectionality of issues. We also use experiential education tools to highlight ways to experience, reflect, generalize and apply the content of the training. Trainings are based in an anti-oppression framework, and aim to mirror the kind of world we want to live in by modeling inclusivity, diversity of learning methods, and healthy communication and facilitation. This workshop will teach you and your team the facilitation and participatory-collaboration skills needed to build on-going organization capacity, effective meetings and creative art-storming!
We are happy to say that all of our amazing trainers have years of experience under their belts. The trainings we offer are part of how our trainers make a living and sustain their work, so we do charge set fees. We are so committed to this work that we do encourage you to inquire about our sliding scale if your organization is unable to meet our standard rates. We’ll do what we can to make it work. Please contact us at training [at] beautifultrouble [dot] org for more information.
Interested in joining the Beautiful Trouble Trainers Network? Apply here.