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Visionary Design and Non-Violent Civil Protest #2

Visionary Design and Non-Violent Civil Prot


Visionary Design and Non-Violent Civil Protest


Organized by Nsumi Collective and School of the Future
Presented by Trade School and the Museum of Arts and Design, NYC

The traditional techniques of non-violent civil protest have been practiced by people around the world in response to oppressive states, policies and proxies, going back as far as BCE 470–391 in China, when the Mohist philosophical school--who disapproved of war--cultivated the science of fortification. Today, the Occupy movement brings together multiple struggles and concerns under a common name, inciting new practices of collaboration and coordination.

People are fighting against inequality, privatization, and exclusion and working to create alternatives to corporate control, the loss of public space, and the privilege of the one percent. With bold tactics and artistic innovations, Occupy has incited the global imagination. At the same time, and not surprisingly, it doesn't employ formal design processes. Also lacking are formal feedback systems, techniques of self-correction, and the formal rigor underpinning the best scientific and social research. Likewise, while the confluence of many different voices, subcultures and micro-communities collaborating together creates unique social opportunities and perceptions, a culture of “radical design innovation” has yet to surface. This workshop will examine these deficits as opportunities for growth. We will brainstorm new protest processes and systems, design tools, strategies, and techniques, based on feedback collected from Occupy meeting notes and from Occupiers and working groups from several cities.

These challenges will be presented to workshop attendees, a group of self-selected designers, Occupiers, artists, scientists, engineers, activists, and researchers, who will collectively respond with new ideas and approaches.

Possible themes include:

A: Protest planning, dynamics, effectiveness, and coordination
(decentralization, spatial orientation, new forms of collective intelligence)

B: Increasing the creative capacity of street protests
(experimental banners and signs, visionary protest tech and inventions)

C: Understanding and strengthening the Occupy ecosystem

(navigating fluid dynamic social structures, while increasing stability, growth and self-correction)

D: The evolution of the general assembly
(GA swarms, virtual GAs, new direct democracy tools)

E: Future projections and offshoots of the Occupy movement

F: Relations with other groups and movements

Register here
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Possible Workshop Themes, in detail
(based on ongoing collected feedback)

Feedback criteria:
We are looking to identify:

1. The primary challenges faced by protestors and protest movements.
2. Where visionary design could play a productive and supporting role to existing organizational, coordinating and planning processes. Visionary design process implies unconventional, hybrid, collaborative, and creative processes in which people with no prior experience, collaborate (on an equal level) with people who are experienced, within a given domain; e.g. artist/non-artist collaborative teams.


A: Protest planning, dynamics, effectiveness, and coordination

- New organizational paradigms in which random chaotic patterns (pdf) are embraced, and where techniques such as contingency planning, risk analysis, biological swarming, experimental networking, and social network analysis (SNA)--can be combined with traditional protest planning.
- Decentralized protest swarms that emerge, contract, mutate, split, replicate, regenerate and swell.
- Spatial orientation: new signaling and wayfinding techniques during mass events.
- Visual planning techniques: dynamic mapping and immersive "war-rooms" (pdf).
- Visionary planning techniques: decentralized think tanks, incubators and new forms of collective intelligence (pdf).
- Catalytic event design.


B: Increasing the creative capacity of street protests

- Creating more inspiring and surprising protest visuals, objects, narratives, rituals, chants, soundscapes, and experiences.
- Fantasy/experimental protest inventions.
- Game design and street spectacle.
- Visualizing the 99%.
- Dadaist inspired protest systems design.


C: Understanding and strengthening the Occupy ecosystem

- Understanding the nature of fluid, dynamic social structures: Occupy as mutant life form.
- Encouraging Occupy movement self-awareness, stability, growth via recursive feedback loops, self-correcting processes, permaculture and sustainability.
- Embracing difference, variety, conflict, and contradiction: navigating the co-existence of horizontal, heterarchic, hierarchic, transparent and cloaked social structures.


D: The evolution of the general assembly

- Imagining new GA permutations and evolutions, clusters and swarms.
- Strengthening the formal structure of the GA.
- Integrating virtual and physical assemblies.
- New direct democracy tools and their interactivity with GAs.

E: Future projections and offshoots of the Occupy movement

- What lies ahead? Visualizing different scenarios, contingencies and scales.
- Envisioning Occupy evolution and growth: mutual aid and solidarity networks, social centers, movement think tanks and incubators, transportation and logistics, grassroots media, in-house research, publishing and printing, PR cooperatives, free schools and new educational inventions, bottom-up/decentralized political engagement, neighborhood activation, mass-scale art and cultural projects, new innovations in performance-outreach, structural coupling with outside entities, mass protest and next-level occupations.
- Envisioning trans-continenrtal coordination, cooperation, and collaboration.


F: Relations with other groups and movements
- How does a movement with no official leadership and no representation navigate formal relationships with other groups?
- Could an analysis of the contemporary commons could be the key that couples Occupy with other activist and community groups? Do public spaces even exist anymore?

The ideas generated from the workshop will be published online as an open source wiki for the public to use, mutate, or further develop.

Contacts: (Nsumi Collective) (SoTF)

This page is dynamic and subject to change.
Thank you Jodi Dean for help in preparing the event text.