In August 2013 I was being detained by the police for using chalk to pose the question “What if Boston…” on the sidewalk in front the statehouse. Just two months before had I left a community organizing job that had good pay and benefits to build my dream organization, Intelligent Mischief, to boost invention and imagination and realign action logic among social justice actors.
“What if Boston…” was the first action of I.M. I had already collected 50 “what if” visioning questions from activists all over Boston – the prompts on the statehouse steps were a DIY participatory art fest designed to bring the larger community into the conversation. But besides the five cops who were detaining me and myself, only two other people had shown up. At that moment I thought to myself, "Did I make a mistake?"
Looking back a year later and seeing the impact I.M. has made I can say it was a dream worth following. Since that day I have been joined by the incredibly creative Chrislene DeJean, and we’ve been able to do a lot!
Intelligent Mischief Top Ten list for 2014
1. Allied Media Conference in Detroit
I.M. partnered with Nadia Mohamed to deliver a creative visioning workshop using narrative and racial justice as frames for place making in Detroit. Writers Dream Hampton and Drew Philp opened with a panel where they shared their stories of living and creating justice in Detroit.
2. Black Body Survival Guide Hack Labs and Website
We have conducted 4 Hacklabs (creative visioning sessions) to develop content for the future Black Body Survival Guide book. In response to the murder of Mike Brown we launched the BBSG website and distributed survival tip stickers.
3. Innovate Boston City-wide Art Festival
I.M. conducted a Public Art Intervention for the Innovate Boston City-wide Art Festival. We operated 3 large mobile boards, donated by Idea Paint, in Boston area T stations where people wrote their ideas for Boston as they pass by.
4. Fete Forward : Caribbean Music Festival
I.M. put together a day-long music festival called Fete Forward. It featured world-famous Dancehall Dancer/Choreographer Blacka Di Danca and DJ Salivation Army. Over 200 people attended.
5. Ferguson October/Ferguson organizing support
I.M. was represented in the national planning for the Ferguson October protest weekend. I.M. specifically designed the creative action for the Blackout Friday protest and helped develop an on-the-ground creative action design mobile team that assisted with various actions. (check out the Let's Talk About It podcast).
6. Interview with MIT Co-Lab
We were interviewed by the MIT Co-Lab about our experience in Ferguson, lessons learned and new creative actions. (Check out the interview HERE)
7. Deep Abiding Love
Along with Lizzy Padgett, I.M. co-founded the Deep Abiding Love Project. In response to the tense environment in St. Louis before the announcement of the non-indictment, we launched the #deepabidinglove hashtag, retwetted by Van Jones, Fight for The Future, anonymous etc. Since December, DALP has trained over 400 people in Boston on nonviolent direct action.
8. Damon Davis: All Hands on Deck
Along with the Design Studio 4 Social Intervention, we hosted renowned St. Louis artist Damon Davis and his All Hands on Deck Project. On the National Day of Action we projected Damon’s Hands Up/I Can’t Breath video onto Harvard Law School.
9. Local Media
Chrislene DeJean of Intelligent Mischief was a featured guest on WCVB CityLine program as a young leader in local protests.
10. The Urban Male conversations
Intelligent Mischief partners with Future Boston Alliance to present The Urban Male conversations. The panels feature men of color discussing different topics in the city of Boston.
We've done a lot this year. Thanks for your support! Now we need you to help us start out 2015 right. This year we are looking forward to our hacklab (our non tech hackathons) using speculative fiction to help organizations develop creative visions for their work, publishing the black body survival guide as a book, and working with groups in Canada, Britain and Brazil on creative projects.
Donate now to help us continue to collectively ensure that culture and innovation are made central in social justice strategies.