“But does it work?”
It’s one of those frequently asked questions one often hears at discussions of design and activism. That and the whole preaching to the converted thing. It refers to design specifically, but also protest generally.
It sometimes takes a long time to stop a war, but now and then the impact is immediate. Like the time in February 1998 when protestors disrupted an internationally broadcast “Town Meeting” on Iraq at Ohio State University. Students dropped a NO WAR banner in front of an CNN’s rolling cameras and made such a ruckus that the moderator had to allow them a turn at the mic. Their pointed questions about the war embarrassed the Clinton Administration, tipped public and international support, and prevented an invasion of Iraq. “Not even Ohio supports the bombing, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said a few days later. Why should Egypt?”
Of course, it wasn’t this one protest alone, nor solely the banner smuggled into the event. But the action, broadcast around the world via cable news, sealed the deal. Katha Pollit’s March 1998 article tells the story.
Update 3/16/2010: Here’s a transcript of the town hall meeting.
Made me laugh. Designed by Jorge Arrieta.
This YouTube video documents pedestrian advocates in Lisbon, Portugal replacing the white “zebra” stripes in a crosswalk with the stenciled names of 137 pedestrians killed by cars. On the curb, the tagline reads: “1/4 das vítimas de acidentes de automóvel são peões.” 1/4 of the victims of automoboile accidents are pedestrians.
The typographic crosswalks were installed in May 2007 at four locations by the ad agency DraftFCB Lisbon for the advocacy group Associação de Cidadãos Auto-Mobilizados with support from Liberty Insurance and JC Decaux. The action generated a bit of media attention to the issue during “Safe Street Week.” (via)
The maps below visualize some of the impact of Israeli attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. About the designers:
“We are a group of Lebanese a group of Lebanese, Palestinian, and other activists who have worked together previously, mainly doing media and mapping work during the summer 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, and some of us later on advocacy and design for the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared refugee camp. We have among us designers, architects, researchers, media people, and many other random activists. Although we are not an organised body or politically affiliated with a specific group, we are all pro-Palestinian.”
The results of a meeting held in Washington DC on November 30, 2008, this concise policy brief proposes a consolidated design policy that fosters “economic competitiveness & democratic governance.” The proposals are:
The site is currently accepting comments on the proposals.¶