This past year was full of activity for Design Action Collective. We travelled to new cities to present workshops and connect with organizers, we took on new projects that expanded our skills, and we continued to work closely with our local social justice community. Check out some highlights from our work this past year.
NEW PROJECTS AND CAMPAIGNS
Third World Resistance
Design Action Collective members engaged in organizing efforts with Third World Resistance — an alliance of organizations connecting the Black struggle in the U.S. with anti-imperialist struggles abroad, and Asians 4 Black Lives — an affinity group of Asian allies who stand in solidarity with the Black struggle against police brutality. We contributed logistical/media support, bodies for the lock-downs, and styled the actions with banners, signs, chalk murals and other visuals.
Climate Change is a Labor Issue
We collaborated with the International Federation of Trade Unions to design their exhibition and meeting space at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. We developed a concept for the space that included case studies, interactive messaging, and specific demands to highlight the intersection of organized labor and climate solutions. Despite an impossible timeline, a tight budget, being an ocean away, and terrorist attacks in the city, the pavilion was constructed successfully — and we learned some new 3D tools in the process.
We also continued working with the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) on reports, posters, and scorecards that activists took to the state capital to fight for environmental justice legislation. Thanks to the relentless efforts by these activists, four environmental justice bills were passed in 2015.
A People’s Proposal for East 12th Street
Design Action Collective supports The E12th Coalition and A People’s Proposal for E12th here in Oakland, CA. We’ve been excited to see this local campaign move from shutting down a City Council Meeting to prevent the fast tracking of luxury housing, to envisioning solutions using a community sourced and centered design process. The Coalition created viable plans for a 100% affordable housing building and submitting it to the city. Several Design Action Collective members live in the Eastlake neighborhood, and we volunteered to design and build the website for the People’s Proposal. The proposal is now under consideration by the City of Oakland planning staff and council. Be sure and contact your council people to advocate for it today! #SaveE12th #PublicLandForPublicGood http://proposal.e12thoakland.org/
Movement for Black Lives
Following up on our work last year with Ferguson Action and Black Lives Matter, Design Action Collective was honored to work with the Movement for Black Lives to design and build the website for their historic convening in Cleveland, Ohio, July 24-26, 2015. We watched the livestream of the convening at our office and were deeply inspired by the Black leadership in this powerful struggle for racial justice.
Design Action Collective was proud to be a sponsor of the retirement fundraiser for one of the transgender movement’s most beloved activists and elders, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, on October 25, 2015. We designed the celebration materials and danced the night away with inspiring leaders. This past year also saw the formation of TAJA’s Coalition (Trans Activists for Justice and Accountability), a coalition of transgender and gender justice organizations that formed in response to the murder of Taja Gabrielle de Jesus in San Francisco. Design Action Collective created a poster and social media graphics that helped push TAJA’s Coalition’s initial demands for affordable housing and no new jail in San Francisco.
Want to see more? Check the updated portfolio on our new website!
WORKSHOPS AND PRESENTATIONS
Design Action Collective members packed bags and hopped on flights to Washington, D.C., Detroit, and Phoenix to attend conferences and convenings. We are grateful for the opportunities to connect with organizers and learn about the priorities for media tools in social justice movements around the country. We presented and facilitated workshops on web development tools, visual communication strategies for activists, and building worker-owned cooperatives with social justice values.
WELCOME BILL HOGAN
Bill joined Design Action in 2015. He brings his skills as a web developer and his experience from working with organizations such as the DataCenter and the Catalyst Project. Bill continues to work in solidarity with communities fighting for self-determination, and challenging heteropatriarchy. We are excited to have him on our team!
DESIGN ACTION IN THE NEWS
Check out some media buzz about the work we do and the issues that motivate us.
- SB Guardian article
- IN Mercury News
- Al Jazeera article
- Counting on Community published and A is for Activist at La Casa Azul and in buzz feed
The End of An Era
43 YEARS OF INKWORKS PRESS
This year Inkworks Press closed it doors. If you somehow missed them, Inkworks was the “mother ship” that Design Action came out of. It was started in 1973 by a group of working class trade union activists who inherited a press from a Free School that had been using it to train people into the trades. Inkworks emerged in tumultuous times — run by people who cut their teeth in the New Left, the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement, the anti-war movement, and much more. It was a time when the slogan “Freedom of the press belongs only to those who own one” was a much more concrete truth than it is today—so these activists dedicated themselves to printing for the movement. They labeled themselves Marxist-Leninist Socialist-Feminist, but never became the official printer of any particular organization. Instead, they organized themselves as a worker collective to allow for an equal voice from their members and the segments of the movement they represented.
With the onset of the “desktop publishing revolution” in the late 80s, Inkworks adapted to the times and developed a dedicated electronic prepress and desktop publishing department. This is where Design Action Collective got it’s roots. Inno Nagara joined Inkworks in 1995 as a desktop publisher/electronic prepress operator. Over the next seven years, he helped develop Inkworks’ desktop publishing into full-fledged design services for activist groups. It had become clear that beyond printing, visual communications were becoming an invaluable need in the “battle for hearts and minds”.
But it was also becoming clear that these services needed to be spun off to allow Inkworks to do what it does best—so Design Action Collective was formed in 2003 using the Inkworks model. Meanwhile, Inkworks continued to modernize and expand it’s printing capabilities with direct to plate printing, short-run toner work, online ordering and other innovations. While serving movement organizations with high quality union printing, Inkworks created the economies of scale to implement best practices around both labor and the environment, and donated endless amounts of printing to activist groups.
Design Action Collective continued to work closely with Inkworks over the last 12 years. In many ways we see Design Action Collective as the next iteration of what Inkworks started in 1973. When the decision to close their doors came down, we did not view this simply as the end of an era, but discussed what the next permutation should be. And here it is. While Inkworks Press will no longer exist, Ranil Abeseykera (Inkworks’ long-standing production manager) has joined with Community Printers (a worker owned union shop in Santa Cruz that came out of the same movement) to start developing a Bay Area branch for their services, based on the mission they shared with Inkworks. And to complete the circle, Ranil will be using Design Action Collective as his base of operations to launch this project.
So while the official Inkworks era may have ended, our work with them continues. To all of the Inkworkers who paved the way for so many of us, thank you! And to all our creative collaborators and comrades, stay tuned for more on the expanded printing services we’ll have through Community Printers!