“Every moment of major social change requires a collective leap of imagination. Political transformation must be accompanied not just by spontaneous and organized expressions of unrest and risk, but by an explosion of mass creativity.”
Transformational social change is an inherently creative act. To alter society, one must be able to imagine something different, to envision the world as it might be. It is perhaps because of this affinity between creativity and social change that the arts and other forms of cultural expression have played important roles in every major progressive social movement, from the Settlement Houses to the Civil Rights Movement, from the Anti-Apartheid Struggle to the Arab Spring.
CulturalOrganizing.org is an effort to explore this vital relationship. The blog is centered around the concept of cultural organizing — a form of social change work that explicitly places art and cultural at the center — but roams much farther, across the interconnected worlds of art, culture, design, activism, organizing, education, and social movements. It offers interviews, book reviews, opinion, news, and more.
I hope this site can serve as a resource for practitioners and researchers working in these hybrid worlds of art, culture, and organizing. As a researcher studying cultural organizing, I think of this site as a slowly growing “literature review,” or survey of the models, ideas, practices, and people in the field. Each time I profile an organization or interview someone, each time I force myself to take ideas and put them into words, I end up learning so much. I also hope that this can facilitate new connections and dialogue. Certainly it has already helped me to connect with a number of wonderful people, some of whom have been so kind as to give interviews for the site.
So please explore the site, and I hope you find it useful. And if you are so inclined, join the conversation, or get in touch with resources you would like to share.
Paul Kuttner is an educator and scholar, interested in community-based and culturally-rooted approaches to education and social change. Currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Utah, Paul’s work covers a range of topics including community organizing, youth civic engagement, arts education, hip-hop activism, and other forms of critical, culturally-sustaining pedagogy. Paul received his doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, prior to which he worked as a community-based teaching artist in organizations and schools across Chicago.
Paul is a co-author of A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform (Oxford, 2011), and a co-editor of Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline (HER, 2012). He is a contributing editor to Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution, and the “Minister of Cultural Scholarship” for the US Department of Arts and Culture. For more about Paul visit http://paulkuttner.com