Speaking Mirth To Power


By Lorna Garano for Truthout. L.M. Bogad’s artful activism blends the strategies of civil disobedience with heaping doses of Harpo Marx. As a professor and “tactical performer, Bogad says he is committed to “speaking mirth to power.” In his long career he has staged outrageous theatrical spectacles to skewer governments, corporations and power brokers of all sorts. Bogad has worked with the Yes Men and with unions and human rights groups on picket lines and occupations around the world. He helped to create and train the spectacular Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA) and to make the street theater organization known as Billionaires for Bush — which calls for “Government of, by, and for the Corporations” — a fixture at the protests that shadowed George W. Bush’s time as president. All of this “serious play” is informed and inspired by constant research into the long history of creative resistance.

The Great Forgetting

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Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – America’s refusal to fund and sustain its intellectual and cultural heritage means it has lost touch with its past, obliterated its understanding of the present, crushed its capacity to transform itself through self-reflection and self-criticism, and descended into a deadening provincialism. Ignorance and illiteracy come with a cost. The obsequious worship of technology, hedonism and power comes with a cost. The primacy of emotion and spectacle over wisdom and rational thought comes with a cost. And we are paying the bill. The decades-long assault on the arts, the humanities, journalism and civic literacy is largely complete. All the disciplines that once helped us interpret who we were as a people and our place in the world—history, theater, the study of foreign languages, music, journalism, philosophy, literature, religion and the arts—have been corrupted or relegated to the margins.

New Anthems Of Resistance: Hip-Hop & Black Lives Matter


By Alexander Billet of In These Times. It’s been a year since the death of Michael Brown, a year since the rebellion in Ferguson, a year since the Black Lives Matter movement began to shift the conversation in just about every avenue of American life. That shift can be seen in politics (from#BowDownBernie to Donald Trump’s threats to beat up protesters) and economics (the Black Youth Project’s embrace of the Fight for 15). It can also be seen, perhaps most obviously, in our culture—and in music, in particular. Not surprisingly, hip-hop has led the way—not just through a predictable barrage of tweets by musicians and artists, but a sustained, meaningful wave of creativity and outspokenness engaging with a bold, sometimes chaotic movement.

The Ballad Of The Fiddle That Traveled 3,000 Miles - Then Stolen

Jimmy Betts plays the fiddle in the Mojave Desert. He carried the fiddle on a march from Los Angeles to Washington to call attention to climate change. (Kelsey Erickson)

By John Kelly in The Washington Post – Don’t call the musical instrument that was stolen last week from Jimmy Betts’s car a “violin.” It’s a fiddle. “Fiddles are meant to be out and about in the world,” Jimmy said. “Fiddles are meant to get down and dirty, creating music. Violins, generally, are meant to be kept in an orchestra pit.” John Kelly writes “John Kelly’s Washington,” a daily look at Washington’s less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. And Jimmy’s fiddle most definitely got around. Jimmy’s a community activist and climate-change protester, and he carried his fiddle with him on a 3,300-mile walk from California to Washington. It accompanied him as he trudged through the Mojave Desert. It was strapped to his back as he dodged thunderstorms in Colorado.

4 Ways To Hit High Notes Of Resistance


Every now and then there is an action that hits all the right notes — the message is clear, the messengers are appropriate, the setting and tone are impeccable, and the ripples carry on far into the future. One such action took place earlier this month in the midst of protests in Ferguson, Mo., against the killing of teenager Michael Brown and police use of excessive force. Seemingly far from the streets of Ferguson at the Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis, concert goers returned to their seats after intermission. One by one, a diverse group of protesters interspersed in the audience rose to solemnly sing out a tailored protest song: “Which side are you on friend? Which side are you on? Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all.”

Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday: Creating A Nonviolent World Culture

Mahatma Gandhi, close-up portrait

As we celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on October 2nd, the International Day of Nonviolence, we have the chance to reflect on our progress in creating a nonviolent world. Obviously, creating a nonviolent world has many facets and is a long-term work-in-progress. But if we are to regenerate human society in accord with principles of love, nonviolence, justice, equity and sustainability, it is emphatically clear that we need to dramatically recreate much of our culture, particularly in the West, where hatred, violence and injustice are ‘built-in’. How can we do this? According to Gandhi: ‘If we are to reach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with the children.’ So, as we reflect, I would like to encourage people to consider and, hopefully, adopt Gandhi’s suggestion before it is too late. I have spent my life trying to work out why humans are violent and, in the end, I discovered that Gandhi was right. Without even realising it, we humans terrorise our children and inflict phenomenal violence on them. How do we do this? We do it by ‘socializing’ our children. That is, we inflict visible, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence on our children in order to make them do what we want.

Yes Lab Workshop: Creative Direct Action for Climate Justice

Yes men climate change ocean image

Saturday, September 20th 10:45a-12:15p NYC Climate Convergence 16 Beaver, 4th Floor FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC In the lead up to #PeoplesClimate March on 9/21, we’re particpating in a day of teach-ins and workshops. JOIN US! Formed by The Yes Men, the Yes Lab helps activists and organizations carry out media-getting direct actions. In this workshop, we will share some juicy nuggets of how we develop effective, fun and meaningful actions that you can use for raising climate awareness. We’ll also preview our brand new tool, the Action Switchboard, which is a human moderated online platform that will be released next month. It will allow you to initiate and join direct political actions, connect with supportive NGOs, receive training and resources to help put important issues into the spotlight, and share stories of your actions. Join Andy and the Yes Lab team to be among the first to get a peek!

Israelis And Palestinians Join Forces In Inspiring New Campaign For Peace

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As the media continues to bombard us with horrifying images of violence and hate emanating from the Middle East, it can be difficult to remain hopeful that any long-lasting solution to end the conflict will ever be reached in that region of the world. Yet, an unlikely alliance of ex-militant Israelis and Palestinians have set out to challenge that notion of despair by joining hands and launching an inspiring peace campaign offering an alternative solution to the ongoing political stalemate. Tired of waiting for their governments to stop the cycle of violence, the bi-national movement Combatants For Peace, have instead chosen to lay down their weapons and work collaboratively to raise funds to build peace in the middle peace. Formed in 2005 from former IDF Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters who had taken an active part in the cycle of violence, the group hopes to generate enough support so it can put political pressure on both governments to intervene and work toward reconciliation. The primary goal is to promote the end of the occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state where both populations can live side by side in peace and dignity by educating each side about non-violent struggles in both Israel and Palestine.

Proposal For A Monument To Huey Newton

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This article is from our associated project, CreativeResistance.org. This is a bronze sculpture of a wicker fan back chair that rests on a square steel base with a mirrored surface. The chair refers to a famous portrait of Huey Newton, one of the founders of the Black Panther Party. This picture shows Newton seated in a rattan chair that Sam Durant’s sculpture replicates. The title, “Monument for the Alameda County Courthouse” directly relates to the Oakland Museum’s proximity to this building across 12th Street where many of the Black Panther trials were conducted in the late 1960s. With this sculpture, the artist is proposing that there be a tangible recognition of the legacy of the Black power movement. This work is also interactive since it is intended to be used by the public. Viewers are encouraged to sit in the chair to metaphorically set themselves in and consider the history that the work alludes to. Visitors are allowed to sit in the chair.

Gallery: Water Writes Mural In Richmond, Ca

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This article is from our associated project, CreativeResistance.org. A Giant two-block mural about oil trains and climate change, cherishing water, and building community solidarity was dedicated in Richmond, CA, on August 9, 2014, during the final day of Richmond’s”Our Power” Convention. “Water Writes” is the first major initiative of the Estria Foundation, an Oakland-based non-profit that raises social consciousness for critical human and environmental issues through public art projects. From the Estria Foundation website: The theme of water connects participating communities [in ten cities around the planet] and documents current local and international water crises. Through our collective creative process, we engage youth, artists, organizers, and environmental activists to create imagery which reflects the relationship between the people and the water of each area. Community members are invited to a public paint day and able to participate in bringing these ideas into reality. The final murals are accessible to view by the public and also to communities across the world through video documentation and the Internet. We hope to spark discussions and cross collaboration between the participating cities and water warriors across the world.

Gallery: Oakland-Palestine Solidarity Mural

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This article is from our associated project, CreativeResistance.org. Presented by Art Forces, the Estria Foundation and NorCal Friends of Sabeel, the Oakland Palestine Solidarity Mural is a monumental work of public art located in Uptown Oakland on 26th Street between Telegraph and Broadway. The mural pays homage to the history of Bay Area public art and expresses solidarity with Palestinians as bombs continue to fall on Gaza. The Oakland Palestine Solidarity Mural adopts the image of the tree as a central motif and global visual signifier to link seemingly disparate issues and distant locations. Spanning 157 feet and reaching 22 feet high, the mural is comprised of nine separate panels, where each artist or team of artists has painted his or her own interpretation of a tree to address social and political issues. Read more here and here. These issues include the shared histories of colonization, environmental exploitation, internal exile of indigenous peoples, resilience and resistance to these injustices…

The Occupy Portraits: A Photo Essay

Annie Appel cover

Photographer Annie Appel has done an amazing job of documenting many of the people who participated in the Occupy Movement. Annie writes: “When the Occupy protests began, I was inspired to contribute my best efforts. As a documentary photographer, this is my activism: to offer these images in the hope that their chronicle of a movement will inspire others to continue to act boldly in the cause of universal justice.” Appel has produced a 572-page book of portraits documenting activists from the Occupy movement in twelve cities across the United States – people like you and me, the 99%. In the interest of historical accuracy, everyone she photographed is included, presented in chronological sequence, and paired with their answer to my question, “What would you change first to make this a better world?”

Peace Activists Roll Out Enormous Pink Scarves In Anti-Nuclear Protest

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This article is from our associated project, CreativeResistance.org. Protesters (Wool Against Weapons, Action AWE) have unveiled a seven-mile “peace scarf” as part of a protest in Berkshire against replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system. The scarf, which took thousands of hours to knit, was stretched from the Atomic Weapons Establishments in Aldermaston to Burghfield. It was created from hundreds of pieces of knitting made across the world and took about five hours to assemble. Campaigners have spent the past eight months making the scarf. Police closed several roads for about five minutes at 13:00 BST, to enable all of the pieces of material to be connected for the whole seven-mile distance. The sites in Aldermaston and Burghfield provide the warheads for the submarine-launched missile system. Symon Hill, from Action AWE, said: “It’s a creative way of making a point that is shared by millions of people around the world, which is concern about the impact of nuclear weapons if they’re used. “It costs £100bn to renew Trident at a time when we are experiencing cuts to public services and the welfare state that we need.” The scarf was assembled by hundreds of people on the morning of the protest using ribbons and safety pins.

Indigenous Artist Refuses To Perform For Member Of Parliament

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An artist has refused to perform for Nunavut’s Member of Parliament, Leona Aglukkaq. Nunavut’s Lucy Tulugarjuk was asked to throat sing and drum dance during Aglukkaq’s upcoming visit to Fort Smith, N.W.T., where the artist is currently living. But she said she’s not pleased with Aglukkaq. She said the MP has not addressed the concerns from Nunavummiut over seismic testing. Some Inuit in Nunavut are furious over the National Energy Board’s decision to approve an application to do seismic testing for oil and gas in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait off the east coast of Baffin Island. They’re worried wildlife will leave the area. Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq is under pressure from constituents over environmental issues. (CBC) Tulugarjuk said Aglukkaq should be standing up for her people, rather than taking orders from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Palestine Mural Unveiled In Oakland, Activists Prepare To Block Boat

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A huge, brightly colored mural expressing solidarity with the people of Palestine was dedicated Sunday in Oakland with a ceremony that included poetry, music, traditional Palestinian and native-American dance, and the opening of an art exhibit from and about Palestine. Located in the East Bay city’s trendy Uptown district (on 26th Street between Telegraph and Broadway), the public-art project was sponsored by Art Forces (formerly the Break the Silence Media and Arts Project), the Estria Foundation and NorCal Friends of Sabeel. Excerpts from their announcement: The Oakland Palestine Solidarity Mural adopts the image of the tree as a central motif and global visual signifier to link seemingly disparate issues and distant locations. Spanning 157 feet and reaching 22 feet high, the mural is comprised of nine separate panels, where each artist or team of artists has painted his or her own interpretation of a tree to address social and political issues. These issues include the shared histories of colonization, environmental exploitation, internal exile of indigenous peoples, resilience and resistance to these injustices…. The twelve participating artists come from a wide array of backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures.