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Vision Quilt Images for Atlanta and Boulder Mass Shootings

Dear Friends of Vision Quilt, I imagine your hearts are heavy with the tragedies of the last two weeks.
My nephew taught and coached one of the Boulder young women and my son’s friend lost her sister in the same shooting. Vision Quilt is determined to honor these blessed loved ones and to continue to do our part to amplify the Call For Change. Let us know if you want to be involved in any way.

Thanks to a new wonderful volunteer in Oakland, Janine Grossman, I am sharing the blog Janine has written about Nancy Bardos’ commitment to honor these lives. 

Feel free to share these images on social media.

Ever onward, Cathy DeForest, Vision Quilt

Nancy Bardos is a dear friend and a long-time supporter of Vision Quilt. Ever since the Charleston shootings, Nancy felt a strong inner calling to express her grief and pain in a creative way, much like many of our young people who make the quilts. She uses her iPad and the image of hands to memorialize and honor the names of the victims. The number of hands corresponds with the names. 

Before COVID, we printed Nancy’s images on canvas and now we show them digitally. In 2019, we were invited by Moms Demand Action to showcase these panels in Sacramento, at California’s State Capitol. When the pandemic is over, we look forward to showing these panels live. In the meantime, check them out at https://www.visionquilt.org/view-quilt.html

Thank you Nancy, and together with you, we reach out our hands and hearts to those who are left with the pain of the aftermath.


TOGETHER WE CAN PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE

Vision Quilt empowers communities to create solutions to gun violence through the power of art and inclusive dialogue.www.visionquilt.orgInstagram, Twitter, Facebook Pinterest.
DONATIONS made here are tax deductible.

More from Nancy Bardos:

You may recall when Cathy DeForest operated her lovely gallery in the Railroad District years ago.  She has stepped aside from all that and for the past 6 years or so has devoted herself to the cause of gun violence and gun safety measures through the 501C3 she started, Vision Quilt.  I was part of one of the first teams formed but eventually stepped away because of the time commitment.  However, I could not step away from the cause itself…and when the shooting occurred at the church in Charleston I knew what I wanted to do.  I have made 24 of these banners since then…way too many for a civilized nation…and I am sure I have missed some.  I recall the banners I made for Orlando and Las Vegas had so many victims I didn’t have room to add the names…though, as in all the others, there is a hand for every single victim filling those banners.

I guess the point of my writing is to let you know that this is an instance of an artist’s artmaking for the sake of acknowledging and documenting important and shattering events as well as a recognition and honoring of the innocent people who became the victims. Perhaps there is a healing of sorts, too.

I did NOT create the original art of the hand silhouettes.  I saw it in a blog post years ago and ended up emailing the author (a woman Episcopal priest as I recall) on the East Coast.  She had used it and I knew I wanted to use it so she gave me the name of the artist……who happened to live in England.  The artist had offered it upon one of those sites artists and photographers use to post things that people can use without attribution and can “buy them a cup of coffee” as payment if one wants to.  Which I did.  I also emailed her and told her how they were going to be used and she was quite touched I think.

I can’t recall how many hands were in the original piece I downloaded from the site but I adapted it over and over and over again as every massacre consisted of a different number of victims.  It has been a sad task to do.  And a small task to do…..but I still feel this is a quiet and meaningful and powerful way for VISION QUILT, as people as well as an organization fighting for change, to honor them.

Call for Submissions: Actipedia

Actipedia – our open-access, community generated wiki to document, share and inspire creative activism – is looking for fresh submissions!

You can contribute to Actipedia! Here’s two wildly different but incredibly effective creative actions to get your wheels turning.

The Condom On Jesse Helms’ House

Remember that scene from Pose where Blanca and the squad inflate the giant condom over the racist, transphobic real estate lady’s house? Their ingenious enterprise was inspired by a REAL-LIFE maneuver of Artistic Activism from 1991 that prevented Senator Helms from proposing and passing life-threatening AIDS policy ever again. Read about the impact of the 1991 Condom on Jesse Helm’s House here before you shed a tear for the final season of Pose.

Pothole Party

After two years of trying to get the local government to fix a cumbersome pothole without success, the Contemporary Art Center in North Macedonia decided to throw it a birthday party. They bought a cake and decorations and invited the media to “a celebration of the birthday of the hole in the road.” The local media put pressure on the municipality and within three days they began repairs on the road. Read about the Pothole Party and its subsequent brilliant action – the Pothole Pond – here.


Visit www.actipedia.org to create an account and upload your action and follow @actipedia on Instagram to get inspired!

Bernie Sanders supports a People’s Vaccine

Bernie Sanders Supports a People's Vaccine

During the People’s Vaccine Alliance March 10 Global Rally Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a message announcing his support for a People’s Vaccine and calling on the Biden administration to take the necessary steps toward global vaccine equity.

It is unconscionable that amid a global public health crisis, huge multibillion dollar pharmaceutical companies continue to prioritize profits by protecting their monopolies and driving up prices rather than prioritizing the lives of people everywhere, including in the Global South.

Our government has invested enormous sums of taxpayer dollars into the production of these technologies. All people should benefit. Not just a few already obscenely wealthy CEOs and shareholders in the wealthiest country on earth.

We need a People’s Vaccine, not a profit vaccine.

Senator Bernie Sanders

Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 was a founding member of the People’s Vaccine Alliance.

Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 – Open Meeting

Join Free the Vaccine’s Open Meeting!

Come talk with leaders in our campaign about artistic activism for global vaccine equity, actions and events coming soon, and see how you can support the campaign for global COVID-19 vaccine equity.

Everyone is welcome! Register now

Alumni Report: A Promise to Your Hero in Albania

Albanian artistic activist, Migen Qiraxhi, joined a Center for Artistic Activism training in Sarajevo in 2019. Since then he’s taken those lessons and shared them with groups in Albania to create remarkable actions against corruption. We’re happy to share a recent report from Migen.

We created and printed in 2d versions the figures (silhouettes) of the most important and respected historical figures of the Albanian history. Taking into consideration the respect that citizens have for them, we built a campaign in which citizens were asked to condemn the phenomenon of corruption. Their messages were an invitation to reflect their actions or passivity in the Albanian society. Through their signatures on the printed figures of the heroes, we managed to create interactivity but also to got from citizens their commitment in the fight against the phenomenon of corruption.

Together with the team trained for creative activism, we worked with:

  • The selection of figures – which were comprehensive and with a high contribution to the country
  • The definition of the design
    • red was labeled as the color of the Albanian national affiliation;
    • a minimalist style and silhouette was chosen as the most suitable to have space in order to give more weight to the message and not the visual details of the heroes;
    • the size of the figures was chosen the same as that of a real human to create a direct relationship between figures and citizens.
  • Messages for each figure – each figure asked citizens to promise to them that they would not commit corruption in a specific sector, which is related to the hero’s work by relating it with a problematic sector of corruption (evaluated according to national and international organizations).

Invitations prepared for each city

We had the opportunity to talk to citizens in all the cities and got a lot of compliments and appreciation from them on the idea of the action. We also managed to collect their signatures in the form of commitment in the fight against corruption, attracting the attention of the media and various personalities of our country and taking the activity “A Promise to Your Hero” in another level, by becoming a campaign at the national level to address the issue of corruption.

Tirana, Feb 22, 2021

The Municipality of Tirana did not allow us to use the town square, thus we were located in a tourist street in the center of the capital, which has a private administration, but which allowed us to communicate equally with the citizens and throughout the day the exhibition was visited by hundreds of citizens passing by, many of whom signed a promise to their favorite hero.

The event was covered by 4 national television stations and in two of them, live broadcasting was made possible for 15 minutes. Below you can find the news prepared by some of them:

The project staff conducted two livestream conversations on Facebook, which had a high level of views and positive reactions from citizens. The first livestream was realized in the form of an interview where Mr. Migen Qiraxhi, as leader of this action, presented the symbolism and messages that each hero carried. The conversation was reached by 3,000 people and had 9 shares.

The second livestream conversation on Facebook focused on the topic of corruption, during which a character very dear to the public, activist and professor Mr. Erion Kristo was invited, who made a presentation of the negative phenomena of corruption in the Albanian society. The conversation was reached by 1,000 people.

Shkodër, Feb 28, 2021.

The activity in Shkodra was of great interest to pedestrians. The exhibition was covered by 6 national televisions which broadcasted the information in the central news editions.

Below you can find the news prepared by some of them:

Voice of America

Vlorë, March 3, 2021

During the activity held in Vlora, the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Albania H.E Ms. Guusje Korthals Altes expressed her interest to visit the exhibition and give her message, who described this action as an effective way to talk to citizens on the phenomenon of corruption and the role of citizens in the fight against it. She shared this activity on the social media of the Dutch Embassy also.

Present in this event was also UNICEF representative Dr. Roberto De Bernardi , as well as the Mayor of Vlora, Mr. Dritan Leli , who chose to show his commitment and sign 2 figures: Ismail Qemali (father of the Albanian state) who is known for his statements that as an official he would not seek or accept corruption; and since we are close to the parliamentary elections he also signed the figure of Musine Kokalari (dissident) who requires her fellow citizens not to fall prey of vote buying or vote coercion. He also shared the photos on his social networks:

Korçë, March 5, 2021

In the city of Korca, the gallery of the heroes and the activity were positioned on one of the most important streets of the city, which gave us the opportunity to attract the attention of many pedestrians with whom we communicated and got their commitment on the fight against corruption in the country.

Kavajë, March 7, 2021

Taking into consideration the invitation of a group of young people from the city of Kavaja (Kavaja Book Club) we decided to organize our action in the city of Kavaja also, where we also attracted the attention of young people and other pedestrians.

Online campaign

Throughout these days of activities we have accompanied our actions with numerous posts on social medias, which has increased the interactivity between those who could not be present physically at the event to make a promise to their hero.

Also, to increase the impact, we have prepared 5 video – messages which will be distributed on social networks to spread out the message.

Below you can find the link of the materials on YouTube, which are not planned to be published in the following days:

1 year into our COVID campaign

“No one should be poor because they are sick, or sick because they are poor” is what our partner at Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, Merith Basey, told us last year before the pandemic began. She saw it coming and we started planning. The pandemic was declared, and two days later we had the plan for Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 on paper.

Today is the one year anniversary of the declaration of the pandemic. While many in wealthy nations are getting their vaccination shots – in record time – the disparity in the roll-out is shocking. In 130 countries around the world, not one dose has been administered to anyone in those nations. The people paid for the research and shouldered the risk in developing these medications – not just through “Operation Warp Speed” but decades of publicly funded science through taxpayer supported institutions like the National Institutes of Health (in the United States) and others in places like Canada, Europe, Korea, Austrialia, and New Zealand. We paid for the research and have now allowed that work to be monopolized by private corporations and sold back to us.

Today in London

No one is safe, until everyone is safe. Profiteering off a pandemic is unacceptable. Permitting monopoly patents on publicly funded research only prolongs the pandemic.

The scarcity that drives profit and prioritizing the nations who can pay the most leaves our friends and family around the world in danger. It exacerbates inequality between rich nations who can begin to move forward and nations with less who will continue to suffer. But even the vaccinated are threatened by these policies too as delays allow variants to spread and thrive.

So what have we done?

When the WHO declared a global health emergency in January of 2020, we had the benefit of already being in conversation with Merith Basey, a Center for Artistic Activism training alumni, and with her we developed a new program to address the disparities we saw coming. Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 took elements we’d developed in years past – online instruction, action driven teaching, cultivating innovative methods, and more – as well as Universities Allied for Essential Medicines’ expertise in access to medicines and mentoring youth leadership.

We got started in March of last year holding information sessions that foretold the challenges ahead, mapping out alternate paths, and explaining how people could be involved, how they could contribute and learn, and how to do it from lockdowns and quarantines around the world. We set up a secure online forum, found spanish translation, and reached out to partners from places like ACT-UP, Health GAP, and Public Citizen.

Each “season” we ran includes hundreds of participants from dozens of countries around the world. Participants, exhausted by countless typical online meetings, describe Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 meetings as the highlight of their week. They talk about learning new things from the access to medicines world, or discovering new ways to push forward their campaigns from the artistic activism side. Despite the depressing reality of the issue we’re working on, friends are made and a lot of fun is had; dance lessons, costumes, black-tie award ceremonies.

And over time other organizations have joined us. Along with UNAIDS, OxFam, and Global Justice Now we launched The People’s Vaccine coalition.

Yesterday Senator Bernie Sanders created a video announcing his support of our work and calling on the Biden Administration to clear the obstacles that patents and profits put before public health.

Today, March 11, there are actions in cities all over the world, calling to “Free the Vaccine”.

Pfizer Headquarters New York

Washington DC

Protest at the offices of PHRMA – a Pharmaceutical Lobbying group

Moderna in Boston

Philadelphia

London

What you can do

  1. Call Ask the Biden Administration to join C-TAP – the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool. This would enable the sharing of data and research with the rest of the world. Call the White House +1 202 456 1414
  2. Call your leaders to support a COVID TRIPS Waiver at the WTO, which would waive restrictions on “trade-related intellectual property rights” thus allowing W.T.O. member countries to produce generic versions of any coronavirus vaccines and Covid-19 treatments.
  1. Ask any research Universities you may be affiliated with to sign the Open COVID Pledge.
  2. Talk to your friends and family about the value of public funding for medicines!

SuperCorsa: How To Make High Performance Artistic Activism

A special course in March & April 2021, sponsored by Voqal.

SuperCorsa (formerly known as the Master Class in Artistic Activism) will be an online course taught by the experts at Center for Artistic Activism. It is free to you, thanks to Voqal’s sponsorship. The SuperCorsa will take place over four 2-hour sessions in March and April (dates to be determined based on finalist’s availability).

SuperCorsa is free to you, thanks to Voqal’s sponsorship.

Before You Apply
You must watch the Intro Seminar (Beyond Raising Awareness: An Introduction to Creative Activism), if you haven’t already. It’s the first part of the course, and required watching before applying. The video recording is below and links to resources we mention in the video are here:


Apply here for SuperCorsa, by March 8 at 11:59pm ET.

What Is the SuperCorsa?

SuperCorsa: How to Make High Performance Artistic Activism is an online course for people who want to better use creativity, art and culture in their social change practice. It will take place over four roughly two hour sessions (with a 20 minute break) over a three – four week period in March. The Center for Artistic Activism team will share methodologies, tools and lessons learned from years of research and trainings. They and your fellow participants will help you to refine objectives and develop creative tactics for current or future campaigns. Graduates can join the Center for Artistic Activism’s online artistic activism community where people from all over the world share projects, ideas and inspiration for creative activism.

Who Can Apply?

This course will include activists, artists and others. Most participants will be staff of advocacy organizations that Voqal supports across the United States. We also have created space for 5 artists (note: we define “artist” very broadly!).

We’re selecting participants who are:

  • generous
  • have some previous experience
  • open to new perspectives and methods
  • excited about exchanging expertise and insight with others

When, and How Much Time?

The SuperCorsa will take part through online sessions and online forums throughout the month of March and in April, with introductory meetings in February. Dates will be finalized after finalists are selected.

The course will be structured around four 2-hour online meetings, with additional homework and interactions with other participants, on your own schedule. You can plan on spending around 4-8 hours a week on the course, depending on how much you choose to put into it. The work is designed to help you work on a campaign, issue or project you already are working on, or want to work on.

What Will You Get From It?

  • An understanding of how creativity has been effectively used in social movements around the world, and principles you can draw on for your own work.
  • The research and theory behind artistic activism, and methods for assessing and evaluating creative action campaigns.
  • Tools and skills to help you integrate creative strategy into your social change practice, and ways to include your colleagues, friends and comrades.
  • Your own proposal for a creative campaign or social change project, with clear objectives and creative tactics, and ready to share with colleagues, funders and others.

Please contact us if you need more information or have any questions.

Michael Young Remembered

This was sent out with Michael Young’s memorial announcement this past week. This is the Michael we worked with an his words are worth highlighting:

“We are stronger together than going it alone. The pure nature of us, as social justice organizers, activists, researchers, policy advocates and progressive champions, is to debate, collaborate and innovate towards a system that is built towards justice and rooted in fairness.… We do ourselves a disservice to try to do our work alone in our organizations, in the tight circles we have formed.… We have to break our silos and create long lasting and interconnected coalitions.… In these times of such turmoil, disruption and distrust, we are presented with many opportunities to spark new fires, to be bold in our ideas, and to build strength in the collective struggle.… Our path forward will be rocky, but if we are together in spirit, heart, and strategy, we will come out stronger on the other side.”

–Michael Young in UFE’s 2017 State of the Dream Report

Beyond Raising Awareness: An Intro to Creative Activism

People holding the hands of others, raising them in the air

This 2-hour seminar is an overview of creative activism.

This seminar was recorded Feb 22, 2021 as a prerequisite to the SuperCorsa online course. But it can stand on its own as an introduction to how creative activism can be useful to your work. You’ll find the video recording of the seminar below, and we’ve included lots of links and resources below that were mentioned in the class.

Beyond Raising Awareness: An Introduction to Creative Activism. 

VIDEO BELOW

This online workshop, led by the directors of the Center for Artistic Activism, gives participants tools to successfully strategize using creativity, spectacle, surprise and vision. “Raising awareness” won’t cut it – we need to get real about how we succeed and fail at moving people to act. Drawing on over ten years of experience working with change-makers around the world, the Center for Artistic Activism shares surprising stories of people fighting for and winning equality and access using culture and creativity. These success stories serve as jumping-off points for in-depth discussion and attendees will leave with tools to apply to all kinds of advocacy. Creativity can keep your efforts to make change active, motivated and energized.

Beyond Raising Awareness: An Introduction to Creative Activism from Steve Lambert on Vimeo.

Links, resources, and other things we referenced in the talk:


SuperCorsa: How to Make High Performance Artistic Activism

MORE INFO

APPLY NOW

If you’ve watched this Introductory Session (live or recorded), you are invited to apply to continue with the SUPERCORSA by March 1. The complete course gives participants the skills and understanding to work alongside organizations to develop and execute creative campaigns.  The workshop will take place over four roughly two hour sessions (with a 20 minute break) over a three – four week period in March.

Please contact us if you need more information or have any questions.

13: SUPERSTORES – Bass Pro Shops

The Lost Episode! We recorded this episode over 2 years ago and dug it out of the vaults for you! We left off at episode 12 – The Chevy Suburban.

Superstores, supercenters, megastores! These aren’t big boxes, they are GIANT boxes and inside are not only swaths products, but on-brand restaurants or services like opticians and hairdressers. Yes, we could have gone to Bed Bath & Beyond, explored the cafe at the top floor of a Nordstrom’s, or even wandered around a Walmart. But you know how we do, we chose Bass Pro Shops! Listen as Pat, Steve, and Steve go through the lifecycle of a retail outing, from excited to disenchanted. Steve and Pat get kinda uncomfortable, but that’s the point!

Bass Pro Shops is a hunting, fishing, camping, and outdoor clothing and recreation chain started in Springfield Missouri but, while they started in the south, they have stores across the country. They own the brand Cabela’s and have over 175 stores bringing in $8 billion in revenue in 2018. Bass Pro Shops sponsor NASCAR drivers and host the NRA’s National Sporting Arms Museum in their flagship Springfield store.

Their Bass Pro Shops “Outdoor World” stores include restaurants, aquariums, open ponds with live fish and boats, taxidermy, bowling alleys, as well as shooting and archery ranges and classes on outdoor skills.

Sound Note: This show was recorded in a superstore and moving car – and given that it still sounds good! Thanks to Jimmy Bigbee Garver who recorded, edited, and mixed this episode.

Links:

Photos

Steve, Steve, and Pat, hiding among the camoflauge
Outside the store, showing off our purchases
Pat, reconsidering owning a vehicle in New York City

Thank you

We want to thank our sponsor who made this episode of the Pop Culture Salvage Expeditions possible, Bass Pr– just kidding! That’s never gonna happen. This show is paid for by donations to the Center for Artistic Activism, a 501.3c non-profit organization.

If you like our work – donate! (It’s a tax-deductible and a little bit goes a long way)

DONATE!