“In Order to Survive, We Create”: A Selective History of Sonny Assu

“Trickster” is the word that Janet Rogers uses to describe artist Sonny Assu in her forward to his recently published collection, Sonny Assu: A Selective History. The term seems very fitting. Like Raven or Coyote, Assu’s art is mischievously clever. He is both a thief and a creator, taking hungrily from the world around him

Four Ways to Shift Culture Toward Justice

The struggle for the soul of U.S. culture is heating up. White supremacy and anti-immigrant sentiment are on the rise, along with attacks on truth and accountability. Meanwhile, social movements are helping us to reckon with how society (de)values Black lives and the stories of cis and trans women facing sexual abuse. Groups across the

Culturally Sustaining Civics: Questioning the Civic Achievement Gap

  Every generation, it seems, worries that the next one is not as politically active as it should be. But, in recent decades, a new concern has emerged: “gaps” in civic knowledge and participation in the US along lines of race and class. According to a number of researchers, youth from low-income Communities of Color score lower

Art is a Basic Human Need: An Interview with Felicia Young

Featured image of the Hudson River Pageant, Photo by William Bourassa Jr. On the day that 45 was inaugurated into office, I had a very hopeful conversation. I spoke on the phone with long-time cultural organizer Felicia Young, founder of the

Creative Catalyst: An Interview with De Andrea Nichols

I recently had the privilege of talking with De Andrea Nichols, award winning social impact designer and “creative catalyst.” De is the director of Civic Creatives, and received the 2016 Visionary Award for community impact in the city of St.

Take a Stand for Cultural Democracy

USDAC launches Cultural Policy & Action Platform At November’s Culture/SHIFT conference in St. Louis, some of my fellow cabinet members at the US Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) took the stage. They were there to mark the launch a national “policy

We need creativity and imagination as much as (or more than) ever

On Tuesday night, while I was half-watching MSNBC, I kept one eye on Twitter. As the outcome of the election became clear, the rise in emotion was palpable. People were processing the result in so many different ways: in tweets of mourning, in calls to action, in blame and recriminations, in critical analysis, in “I told

How do you visualize a world you haven’t yet seen?

Earlier this year, I did some graphics work for the Family Leadership Design Collaborative (FLDC), a group whose mission is to radically re-imagine family engagement in schools and other institutions. It turned out to be one of the toughest design challenges I’ve faced. In this post, I want to share a bit of that design process with you. The back-and-forth that