National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

From the Streets to the ‘Net and Back:
21st Century Human Rights Activism and Creative Dissent
Daniel Hazen, Celia Brown, Leah Harris, & Chaya Grossberg


An intergenerational panel of activists will discuss the revolutionary potential of the international human rights framework.  The workshop will include an exploration of creative dissent in our movement—where we have been, where we are today, and the potential of new social media technologies for organizing.  Presenters will share examples of visual media, poetry, and spoken word with human rights themes and encourage a group dialogue on how “artivism” can be used to inspire and mobilize resistance for social justice.  


I.  Applying international human rights standards to organizing in the US 
In the arena of international law, new mechanisms have transformed the way we think about and achieve justice. And at the same time, the creative thinking and innovative spirit of individuals and organizations have changed the way we think about what is possible in human rights — and therefore what we can achieve.

Daniel and Celia will discuss the movement to apply international human rights standards to the US, the treaties most relevant to our movement, and the revolutionary potential of applyng the framework to issues relevant to users and survivors such as forced treatment and self determination.

II.  Creative Dissent and Artivism 
Artivism is the place where art and activism meet, where creativity propels us to bring our visions to fruition. Artivists believe in the potential of art as a valid and powerful form of political and social commentary and dissent.

Leah and Chaya will read from their poetry of witness covering human rights themes, psychiatric oppression, and liberation.  Other examples of creative dissent in our movement will be highlighted including film and photography.  They will discuss how artivism can help to inspire people to take action on the issues that matter to them.  Leah will talk about the experience of doing public poetry as part of the DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency and Chaya will discuss her experiences of speaking out publicly and creatively to bear witness to abuses and to demand human rights and social justice.

III.  Social media as a tool to organize and inspire action in the “real world.” 
What is Web 2.0 and how can it help you to advance your cause? 

In tough economic times when funding for travel is scarce, there is a great potential to organize politically and even to raise funds for activist initiatives through interactive social media sites like FaceBook and YouTube.  These sites are also bringing international activists together in a more powerful way than ever before.  In the last year in particular, user/survivor presence on FaceBook has grown exponentially, creating an exciting potential for cross-fertilization of creativity and ideas. 

Leah will share skills she acquired at the Nonprofit Technology Network conference and BlogHer about tips for advancing your cause in the Web 2.0 environment. 

The workshop will end with an open discussion about the potential of social media as an organizing tool, as well as its limits, including the concern that online activism does not lose its on the ground connection and addressing the digital divide.  Participants will be encouraged to join FaceBook (if they are not already a part of it) and use it to bring the human rights perspective to organizing in their local communities.  

Learning objectives.  Participants will: 

  1. Understand the revolutionary potential of applying the international human rights framework to the US and how it impacts on our movement
  2. Learn about “artivism” and its central role in the vitality and viability of social justice/human rights movements
  3. Develop a greater knowledge about the power of Web 2.0 and social media as an organizing tool