“Actipedia” Platform Goes Public
Database of creative activism case studies will inform and inspire a new generation of activists
“We designed Actipedia to inspire activists to more creative—and effective—actions,” explains Stephen Duncombe, co-founder of the Center for Creative Activism.
“Actipedia is about sharing the ways people challenge power and envision a better society,” adds Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Lab. “To change the world we’ve got to learn from each other.”
Actipedia is built on an open-source platform and is designed for ease of use, with simple formats for viewing, searching and posting examples. The site draws case studies from original submissions, reprinted news articles, and informal snippets of action reports. Although it is only now launching, Actipedia already hosts over 400 case studies and counting, from countries from all over the world.
“Actipedia provides a space for inspiration and for contribution,” noted one recent user. “Seeing all the amazing work going on around the world motivates me and makes me realize the potential impact I can have.”
- Interviewer: Later on you also did an action at Lincoln Center in New York…
- Noah Fischer of Occupy Museums: That was our most triumphant action of 2011! The Lincoln Center, supported by David H. Koch and New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg, is a potent symbol of the privatisation of public space and an abuse of cultural authority. As we stated in the press release for the action, “it is no doubt a coincidence that Philip Glass’ opera ‘Satyagraha’, which depicts Gandhi’s early struggle against colonial oppression in India, was revived in the revolutionary 2011. We immediately saw a glaring contradiction in ‘Satyagraha’ being performed while in recent weeks protestors from Occupy Wall Street have been arrested. The juxtaposition was stark. While Bloomberg funds the representation of Gandhi’s pioneering tactics of nonviolent civil disobedience in the Metropolitan Opera House, he simultaneously orders a paramilitary-style raid on the peaceful public occupation of Liberty Park, where protestors are beaten, tear-gassed, and violently arrested.” So, one evening, hundreds of protesters assembled on the steps of Lincoln Center, blocked off from the plaza by police barricades. A few who dared to cross the line were arrested, provoking shouts of “shame, shame, shame!” We took off our shoes—a Gandhian symbol of dignity—and stood barefoot on the cold pavement, conducting our assembly. When the opera ended and the opera audience exited into the plaza, they came upon this strikingly theatrical scene—real, live, non-violent protest, barefoot on the grand steps! Some protesters were chanting “We are the 99%”, which may have contributed to a sense of separation between these two parallel crowds. Our presence behind the police barricades somehow paralysed the opera audience, making them hesitant to flow toward us, even as we called them to join. Then all of a sudden Philip Glass popped up in the Occupy Wall Street crowd—he had come to read a statement using the “people’s microphone”. He called out the last lines of the opera, a passage from the “Bhagavad Gita”:
- When righteousness withers away / And evil rules the land / We come into being / Age after age / And take visible shape / And move / A man among men / For the protection of good / Thrusting back evil / And setting virtue / On her seat again.
- In that moment the opera audience had joined us. The buffer zone was gone. We were now one big crowd. Until late into the night we held our general assembly and many people spoke—opera singers who had been recently fired by Lincoln Center in its neo-liberal war against workers, and also Lou Reed was there and expressed his support.
All militancy and no play makes Jack a dull revolutionary
I have a question for all the philosophy nerds out there; in particular, those riding the “Object-Oriented Ontology” bandwagon: Why is it that we should care so much about objects, and what are the implications of this perspective for political activism?