The Art of Resistance

Big Oil Dudes, by artists from ARRT.
Big Oil Dudes, by artists from ARRT.

Janis Hashe is a freelance writer/editor/teacher/theatre person. She has been politically active in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chattanooga and now Richmond. Her deepest personal commitments include fighting climate change, ending factory farming and overturning Citizens United.

I grew up in Santa Cruz County and was a self-declared feminist by age 14, and active in my first political campaign as a senior in high school. After 23 years in Los Angeles, and ten in Tennessee, I returned to Santa Cruz less than a year before the election debacle. Like many, I went to bed that night stunned—but rose determined to resist.

I first joined a Meet-Up group called “Strategies for the New Political Climate,” which was helpful as it brought like-minded people together, and Swing Left, to which I still belong. It quickly became clear, however, that there were too many groups pulling resources too many ways, and Santa Cruz Indivisible emerged as the go-to organization. It now has an extremely effective and well designed web site and Facebook page; the page showing almost 2,500 likes. The group almost immediately realized that the best way for people to focus their energies and time was to create issue subgroups: these are listed on their site under “Issues for Resistance.”

As a writer and theatre artist, I gravitated toward the subgroup Artists Respond and Resist Together (ARRT), which identified itself this way: “We are an affiliation of artists joined together by our shared belief in the power of art to effect social change and protect democratic values. Our creative skills support progressive social actions in our local community and beyond.” This group was committed to actions, not group-complaining sessions, and this motivated me. An example of the actions ARRT continues to do is creating resistance banners that will hang over Highway 1 overpasses:

  • Branciforte Ave. Overpass: “Putin is not our Friend”
  • Morrissey Blvd. Overpass: “Country above party”
  • La Fonda Ave. Overpass: “We are Indivisible.”
John Muir. Street theatre art by Santa Cruz artist Donna Thompson
John Muir. Street theatre art by Santa Cruz artist Donna Thompson

I am currently working with Heidi, another IEB member, to organize a first meeting of ARRT/East Bay. We’d like to curate a show of Resistance-themed art, make a list of suggested art-focused actions, and also solicit artist volunteers who can be called on to help create graphics, signage, and other art for events. I would also like to see if we can replicate the very successful “Resist Fest” held in downtown Santa Cruz, in which all local Indivisible groups participated. If you’re interested in joining us, please email me.

Can We Work Toward a National Resistance Summit?

Its no secret that getting progressives to work together can resemble the proverbial herding cats. But another famous statement that resonates strongly right now was made by Ben Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” I believe ALL the groups engaged in resistance work: political, environmental, human and civil rights, education, income inequality … all of us … need to come together and set a National Resistance Agenda. If all the groups currently struggling to do things individually joined forceseven if it was only on certain key issuesit would be a massive force for progressive change. I continue to urge the leaders of all the groups to which I belong to consider this idea.

By Janis Hashe