100 Days Action
An artist collective that produces creative resistance projects to build community at the intersection of art, activism, and social engagement.
Year: 2016 - 2020
Team: Jeremiah Barber, Alicia Escott, Ben Leon, Ken Lo, Katina Papson Rigby, Ingrid R., Surabhi Saraf, Julie Sutherland, Maysoun Wazwaz.
My Role: print and web designer, organizer, problem solver, maker, strategist, researcher, listener, networker, curator, translator, project manager, instigator, installer, protestor, speaker, and photographer.
In the days that followed the election of Trump in 2016, many plunged into feelings of hopelessness, panic, and rage. But a couple of artists in San Francisco saw this as a moment to unite and called on their communities to come together to dream and work together to face what was to come.
I showed up, as did other ~50 people. Our urgent response came from Trump’s 100 Day Plan which promised to build a wall on the border between Mexico and the United States, swore to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and vowed to deport two million immigrants, among many other things we considered unjust and violent.
Many of us came out without really knowing the others well or at all, but with the common purpose of working together and putting our skills in service to creating a supportive community amidst the divisive and tiring landscape that was ahead of us.
How might we create a counter-narrative to Trump’s 100 Day Plan that celebrates diversity and unity?
Tools & Methods
We came together and identified our common values and goals, shared our wishes and visions, and then thought about tactics and strategies that would enable us to successfully accomplish our intentions of building political and poetic resistance.
Out of the ~50 people who initially showed up, 10 of us became the core organizers of 100 Days Action, “a forum for resistance—a platform connecting and supporting people in exploring, producing, and sharing their ideas of creative resistance, healing, and collective action.”
We provided a calendar of activist and artistic strategy, featuring a curated (mostly crowdsourced) action each day of the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. We sought to engage and activate our communities, and inspire ideas of change in nuanced ways to protest the new administration’s ideologies.
Based on each person’s skills, we divided ourselves into working subgroups. But, regardless of our areas of expertise, we have each had input on all aspects of the project. We’ve always known that we’re all responsible for our collective success.
We built a website, created an e-newsletter, and opened social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I developed the collective’s brand identity and a myriad of materials for print and digital use.
After months of planning and hard work, we launched the project on Inauguration Day with our own version of the Inaugural Ball, hosted by Royal Nonesuch Gallery in Oakland.
For the month of March, we were invited to take over Southern Exposure’s (SoEx) 3500 sq ft gallery. We used the space to share the actions that had already taken place in the first 45 days of the project by way of a physical calendar with ephemera from the actions. It was also an opportunity to invite in our communities and host other groups doing important work.
For the final month of the first 100 days, we installed a participatory exhibition at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) in San Francisco. “24 Hour Resistance” was a circuit training studio to warm up your artivism. The idea for this installation came from our desire to build sustained resistance. We were only 70 days in and we were exhausted. How could we put our own needs into an exhibition and encourage others to keep up the good work?
For the 100th day of the project we organized the "No-Ban Dance Party" featuring musicians and DJs from the seven predominantly Muslim countries on Trump’s original travel ban. It was a moment of communal care, celebration and togetherness.
Between November 2016 and May 2017 we:
Organized as100 Days Action collective.
Developed and implemented web, social media, design, PR and curatorial strategies.
Created a solid brand that became well known within our communities.
Featured over 152 actions, published 14 poems and three chapbooks, participated in three residencies, and curated three exhibitions. The actions came from all over the country and took multiple forms: social media-based actions, live events and performances, exhibitions, workshops, panels and protests.
Attracted press coverage from multiple local and national media outlets. (SF Chronicle, CNN, KQED and Creators Project, among others)
Got awarded the YBCA100 recognition.
Received invitations for panels, tablings and workshops at art institutions (YBCA, SoEx and Root Division, among others); universities (UCSF, California College of Arts, San Francisco State University and Mills College); and art fairs (Commonfield and Untitled Art Fair).
Collaborated with local and national organizations, including ACLU, Alley Cat Books, Guerrero Gallery, Root Division, The Tenderloin Museum and Kala Art Institute, among many others.
Participated in and mobilized people to attend protests, panels, fundraisers and other community events that shared our values and vision.
Burnout! After the 100 Days, we had a deep feeling of exhaustion and burnout. We decided to take off a couple of months to rest and replenish. We later regrouped at a retreat where all of us voiced our needs and wants, and visions for moving forward collectively. After long conversations and negotiations (and many laughs) we concluded that we wanted to continue to work together, but in a more sustainable way.
We decided to reduce our scope of work while hoping to increase our impact. We continued working as a platform to support and amplify other people’s actions, while also producing our own, but not in the daily. We also established that we would seek funding to sustain our enterprise, and to support the artists we worked with.
In 2018, we got funding for “Unfuck the Future”, a project consisting of a series of six curated and paid web-based residencies by artists who were given full access to our social media and web-based platforms.
At the same time, we worked on our own initiatives. 2018 offered an exceptional opportunity to work more directly in the political arena given that San Francisco was having a mayoral election and that the midterm elections were taking place that November. We organized actions for both occasions. I left San Francisco that year, so my involvement in these actions was considerably lower.
First, the group produced “Unfuck the Mayor: The Last Debate”, an event where local comedians impersonated and read real quotes from the three top contenders for the mayoral seat.
For the midterm elections, we supported the “blue wave” efforts in flipping red districts into blue ones. We connected and partnered with organizations already doing this work. Among others, we joined forces with Swing Left, For Freedoms, and Mi Familia Vota. One of the outputs of these collaborations was the “People’s Oval Office”, a life-size cardboard model of the Oval Office. In it, people could enact the role of President and sign Executive Orders. One of the outcomes of this action was that the district in Modesto where we took the Office elected a Democrat for a seat in the local government. The Office was was later part of a group exhibition organized by For Freedoms and hosted at California College of Arts.