From Hashtags to Hip-Hop, the Hows and Whys of Cultural Campaigning

This story has been re-posted from mobilisationlab.org Making change by making art. Campaigners have long recognized the power of culture in their efforts to effect social change, whether it’s weaving a well-timed pop culture reference into campaign messaging or organising an entire movement around a cultural idea, custom, value or tradition. Cultural campaigning can transform narratives,

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

Art in a Time of Emergency

Photo: Mirror Shileds at Standing Rock, Designed by Cannupa Hanska Luger These days, it seems like we are in a constant state of emergency. Last week’s terror attack against anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville is only one in a string of local, national, and international crises. Whether its a police shooting, an illegal pipeline project, a

Futurism, Futurity, and the Importance of the Existential Imagination

In arts and social change work, we talk about the importance of being able to imagine a future that is better — more just — than the world we live in today. But often the struggle is a more existential

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

Sign Now: USDAC Pledge on Cultural Rights and the Muslim Ban

The US Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) is calling on artists, designers, cultural organizers, and other cultural workers to sign the following pledge: to stand with humanity against inhumanity at this vital political juncture. Commit your creative energy to

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. Louis. An artist and designer in her own right, much of De’s work over the

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 and action” platform we’ve been working on, titled Standing for Cultural Democracy. The platform outlines a

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

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