10 Art and Resistance Resources Since the Election

Featured Liz Long Liz Long

If you think we’re writing a lot about anti-Trump resistance in these pages lately, you’re correct. That’s because anti-Trump resistance is driving the culture more than anything else right now, and political activism — the sustained, organized kind — is more deeply embedded in American daily life than any other time in generational memory.

An estimated 5.2 million people participated in Women’s Marches on January 20 last month. A recent Washington Post poll reported that one in three Democrats pledged to “become more involved in the political process” in the next year. Seattle’s longstanding alt-weekly The Stranger even recently created a special section amid their weekly arts coverage for “Resistance & Solidarity” events. That’s just how people hang out these days.

If you’re the sort of person who has wondered what people “do” after they show up to protests like the Women’s March, read on. A swell of art and action-based resistance efforts has emerged since the election, joining an already potent social justice network in southern Maine.

And because political engagement takes on many shapes and sizes, we compiled a resource guide on many of the new art and action-based resistance efforts that have cropped up post-election. We can’t say it’s fully comprehensive — that would take an entire issue — but it’s a start.

These are new, but by no means should they distract from the vital efforts of organizations like the ACLU of Maine (or the ones we highlight at the end of this list). And if you’re interested in checking in with post-election efforts at a national level, try starting with Indivisible.

PRINTERS WITHOUT MARGINS

The art collective Pickwick Independent Press launched Printers Without Margins shortly after the election as an “official social justice arm of the shop.” Over the spate of recent protests, some of Pickwick’s artists have worked diligently to make signage with clear, direct statements on them, for better visibility at protests and in press coverage.

The effort evolved naturally from the ethos of the artist network. “Walking into a room full of printers who were all in a similar place — it was powerful,” says Pickwick member and printmaker Pilar Nadal. “We gathered and talked about what we wanted to do, what we could do, and what we couldn’t do, and came up with Printers Without Margins.”

While the group is only open to Pickwick members (membership costs include a small annual fee), Nadal says the group could use donated support in the form of money, paper, ink, a Xerox machine, and volunteer grant writers.

“We’d like to match our printers with individuals or organizations who need printed materials — signs, posters, flags, bumper stickers, postcards, pamphlets, zines, you name it — with content about anti-racism, anti-sexism, pro-religious freedom, anti-homophobia, and generally how to treat each other with kindness and respect.”

Website: pickwickindependentpress.com

GET READY WEEKLY

Another example of art weaponized for political means, GET READY WEEKLY is a vessel for “visual resistance.” That may sound complicated, but these are essentially chill, playful and inclusive hangouts for banner-making, letter-writing, and ribbon-making for upcoming protests, marches, and rallies.

Launched by artist Erin Johnson and now steered by Johnson and artist Marieke van der Steenhoven, GET READY WEEKLY has prioritized accessibility and building community. And because how-tos on writing your reps to protest the Dakota Access pipeline, the repeal of the ACA, and Trump's cabinet picks might be a little heavy, their get-togethers are essentially good times, partnering with breweries like Oxbow and galleries like Able Baker Contemporary.

Additionally, they’ve paired with local art magazine The Chart to plan “resistance readings” of short political and social justice texts tackled over dinner at restaurants operated by immigrants and people of color. The first is scheduled for March 7 at Babylon Restaurant, where the group will read an essay by the Detroit-based critic and arts writer Taylor Renee Aldridge titled “Transplant Exploits: Detroit’s Savior Complex.” Pointed, thoughtful, and conducted face-to-face, we hope this reading series takes off.

Online, GET READY WEEKLY maintains a useful info hub, this week publishing “The Official Anti-Milo (Digital) Toolkit,” a snazzy and super-informative handbook about how to confront “alt-right” troll Milo Yiannopoulos and other far-right agents when they attempt to use the Trojan horse of “free speech” to spread violent agenda at college speaking events. To wit: “Countering Milo and the alt-right requires an ability to critically assess the ways in which the vocabulary of liberal-academic discourse is currently being co-opted by extreme right-wing groups in order to legitimate and further a platform of genocide and terror against historically marginalized groups.” Just in time for Maine Rep. Larry Lockman’s contentious appearance at the University of Southern Maine on February 16.

Website: facebook.com/getreadyweekly

           

A SEAT AT THE TABLE

A Seat at the Table is a monthly facilitated dinner model designed to bring together people with different backgrounds and experiences for hard discussions, where they tackle topics like race and privilege, sex and gender identity, and climate change.

Launched in January by Chanel Lewis and Adam Burk, A Seat at the Table evolved from a group called Represent: Networking for Professionals of Color, an open attendance session that met at coffee shops, bars and tasting rooms in Portland. In A Seat’s three-month pilot program, Lewis and Burk host discussions one Thursday a week, from 5:30 to 6:30p.m. One of those meetings resulting in a free dinner on the last Thursday of the month, consisting of a group hand-picked from applicants, and where the traditionally “underrepresented are overrepresented.”

“The long-term goal,” writes Lewis in an email to The Phoenix, “is to use our facilitated dinner model as a professional development opportunity to challenge business, community, and political leaders to make systemic changes regarding equity and justice.”

“A Seat at the Table dinners are brave spaces,” says their website. “They are meant to be challenging, and this might mean owning up to a hard truth or speaking your truth when it’s scary.

Lewis says that the inaugural dinner has reached capacity for this month, but the group is taking requests for participation at the March dinner now.

Website: thetreehouseinstitute.org

SAFER SPACE PORTLAND COMMITTEE

Echoing movements in other major cities across the country, a group of local business owners, workers, designers, and activists have spearheaded an effort to create “safer space” signage for commercial spaces in the city, signaling values and expectations to customers and citizens and designating zones of zero tolerance for harassment and abuse.

“The goal is to make our businesses safer spaces for marginalized people here in Portland,” writes Laura Ker, proprietor of Find clothing store in Portland and co-founder of the committee (along with artist Sally Struever and Dave Aceto).

“Immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ folks, black folks, and others are hearing from Washington ‘you’re not welcome.’ We are here to say ‘you are welcome here’ and not have it be an empty promise.’"

The group has met periodically since November and has been consulting with organizer Marena Blanchard of the ACLU of Maine. They also seek to provide training for area workers to defuse and de-escalate situations. They’re still hammering out specific language, but hope to have signage available soon.

STEAL THIS PRINT

A free online database of original anti-Trump art available to download, Steal This Print has international appeal despite its relatively humble local origins as an idea hatched by two entrenched Maine artists, printmaker David Wolfe and painter Charlie Hewitt.

With more than 40 high-resolution images available for free on the site, Steal This Print aims to be a valuable resource for those looking for originality and humor in their Trump-bashing.

Website: stealthisprint.com

PORTLAND STREET CHOIR

Protest songs can have awkward cadences, odd rhymes, and tired or vague messaging. But If you’ve spent any time at them, you’ve witnessed the capacity of music at keeping large swaths of protestors active and engaged.

Enter the Portland Street Choir. Forming in December, the Portland Street Choir leads music and song at protests, demonstrations, and marches around the state. And they’ve been busy! The Street Choir meets for rehearsals once a month, and has added color and song to last week’s Rally to Support Planned Parenthood, the Rally Against the Muslim Ban earlier this month, and, of course, the Women’s March.

Website: facebook.com/portlandstreetchoir

MAINERS FOR ACCOUNTABLE LEADERSHIP

Emerging days after the election, Mainers for Accountable Leadership acts as an organizational liaison between on-the-ground activists and elected officials. With representatives’ voicemails routinely full during the confirmation hearings of Trump’s cabinet picks, the need for this sort of work would seem particularly important.

“Our rallies are First Amendment events,” writes co-founder Mary Follayttar Smith in an email to The Phoenix. “Mainers are rising up and calling on [Sen. Susan] Collins to come home to a town hall [meeting], asking her to listen to the Mainers she is out of touch with and to answer her phone.”

The group set simple, commonsense goals reducing the barriers of civic engagement and amplifying its signals.

“We expect them to increase the capacity of their voicemails so the over one million Mainers of voting age can participate. To publish who they meet with — what lobby, what group of constituents. To publish their Town Hall and public meeting schedules, and to make public their statements on critical votes, outlining the rationale, criteria, and filters and [explain] how the vote is a vote for Maine.”

Launched by Smith and co-founders April Humphrey and Dini Merz, the group is a young, volunteer-run PAC with no communications director or fundraiser. Smith says they could use all hands on deck for their efforts.

MFAL is hosting three open-air town halls on February 22 at 12:30 p.m., outside MPBN locations in Portland, Lewiston, and Bangor. Smith says they’ve raised $3000, which they intend to use on infrastructure, website construction, contact management and advertising.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/mainersforaccountableleadership/

 

DENA’S DAILY ACTION


Want your political engagement a little simpler? Something that doesn’t make your Google calendar look like a de Kooning painting? Try something like this daily activism reminder run by a millennial-aged Portland mom.

“Dena’s Daily Action” is a simple, original piece of content sent as a text message to your phone, with short, sweet, and specific instructions on a piece of progressive action you could perform that day. They’re not exactly memes, but they’re not far off, and there’s a lovely juxtaposition between the seriousness of the action and the image itself. On Valentine’s Day, a piece titled “We Love Ethics” included a script for how to call your rep about the Presidential Tax Transparency bill and Trump’s conflicts of interest arrives mounted over a photo of one of Dena's kids being playful and adorable.

As of right now, Dena’s restricting her service to friends and acquaintances. But it’s a model you could easily start on your own. 

SUIT UP MAINE ACTION NETWORK

A fairly massive left-liberal affinity feed on Facebook, this closed private group publicizes events across the spectrum of Maine-based resistance — super valuable for those outside of Portland — and spans overtly political functions like meetings by the Socialist Party of Eastern Maine to cultural events like an International Women’s Day Fashion Show.

UNIFIED L/A

Those north of Portland may have to look a little harder for resistance efforts, but this Lewiston-based progressive committee takes the shape of a town hall-style meeting. They’ve been giving action trainings to locals about how to call representatives, organize effectively, learn about Trump’s immigration and travel bans, and share resources, including crucial information for Lewiston’s sizable immigrant population.

Unified L/A is most active as an in-person meet-up group, but maintain a private group page on Facebook for keeping up with events and minutes.

MAINE RESISTS (BONUS!)

Less a singular organization than a catch-all events calendar for progressive events, this volunteer-run, easy-access look-ahead has progressive events posted through April, spanning areas from Bangor to Boston.

Website: maineresists.org

SIDEBAR

One of the hazards of political moments like these is forgetting about the work people have been doing since long before Trump won the election.

Maine Women’s Lobby

With a Trump administration more hostile to women’s civil and reproductive rights than any time since WWII, the work of the Maine Women’s Lobby may be more vital than anytime since its inception in 1978. Website: mainewomen.org

Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ)

A national anti-racist education and training group for white people to “do their homework,” focusing on issues of justice, equity, and accountability through an intersectional lens that includes struggles for indigenous rights, LGBTQ folks, and disabled people, the Greater Portland chapter of SURJ hosts meetings every other Wednesday. Though people of color are most certainly welcome, the organizers make efforts to ensure “there is no obligation to engage in the emotional labor of educating white folks unless you would like to.” Website: facebook.com/greaterportlandSURJ

Sock Monkey-Making Workshop

Political work comes in all shapes and sizes, and our inclusion of Maggie Muth’s sock monkey-making workshop, which she started back in the Bush era, serves as a reminder that allowing for creativity and silly, simple play can often serve as the stepping stone and social fabric that leads to more avowedly political work. Website: mayostreetarts.org

Last modified onThursday, 16 February 2017 11:28