Beautiful Trouble


“Beautiful Trouble is more than a book, it’s the serious artivists’ wikipedia.” — Ann Narkeh

From Cairo to cyberspace, from Main Street to Wall Street, today’s social movements have a creative new edge that’s blurring the boundaries between artist and activist, hacker and dreamer. But the principles that make for successful creative action rarely get hashed out or written down. Until now.

Beautiful Trouble brings together ten grassroots groups and dozens of seasoned artists and activists from around the world to distill their best practices into a toolbox for creative action.

publication June 2012 • 474 pages • illustrations throughout

paperback ISBN 978-1-935928-57-7 • ebook ISBN 978-1-935928-58-4

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'Beautiful Trouble' is in the top 5 most useful activist books I've ever read...and I've read a LOT of them."

— John Noon



” … cover(s) a broad terrain, yet manages to go into a lot of detail, venturing well beyond sloganeering.”

Carl Rowlands, New Left Project

” … a damn good gateway drug for liberals.”

“A typical liberal may recognize contributor names on the cover like the Yes Men and Billionaires for Bush, but the guts of the book also nod to IWW, Earth First! and Otpor.”

Cole Wardell

“Now here’s a book that’s meant to be used.”

Beautiful Trouble is a terrific addition to Gene Sharp’s catalog of nonviolent tactics … “

“When someone whines about what they can possibly do if it’s really true that voting won’t fix everything, hand them this book. When someone proposes violence as the only serious option available, hand them this book.”

“Here is a guide to activism that focuses on the serious moral case for fundamental change and on making it fun as hell.”

“Here is a sophisticated tool for shaping strategies that are both uncompromising and welcoming of newcomers.”

” … a book that practices what it preaches.”

” … even the familiar is so well presented and contextualized that people are likely to find new insights in what they thought they already knew.”

David Swanson, & OpEd News

” … an informative and inspiring how-to handbook of direct, confrontational social activism … “

“This is a primer for those ready and sturdy enough to take real action.”

Dennis Hiebert, Geez magazine

“The time-honed tradition of politicized mischief is back … “

Eli Rosenberg, The Brooklyn Paper

” … a must-read for everyone who is working for a better world. It is rich with ideas, analyses and road maps.”

” … thoughtfully and respectfully addresses some very tough tactical issues that have stymied organizers for a long time.”

— Gary Shaul, long-time organizer

“Anyone who is interested in passionate, exciting, inspiring social movements should have a look.”

Inter Pares

“A brilliant spark that will fly through the air and set the vapors of our insurrectionary imaginations alight.”

— John Jordan, founder of Reclaim the Streets

“I would have loved it as a gift when I was a teenage rebel … “

” … it would be a great resource in a school: useful for Art, Design, History, and Citizenship!”

Jon Lockwood, Peace News

“Should be required reading in every classroom.”

— Judith Malina, founder of Living Theater

“On many occasions it deploys humor as a political weapon: Beautiful Trouble is an entertaining and audacious book which provokes smiles in the reader.”

“Know-how accumulated over decades is presented in a simple and practical form, ensuring that Beautiful Trouble could serve as a bridge between generations … “

Julia Ramírez Blanco, Re-visones

” … a useful and impressive compendium of decades of distilled practical knowledge.”

Justin Jacoby Smith, Red Pepper

Beautiful Trouble is essential reading for the socially engaged artist.”

“This is a “let’s do it” guide to action, an accessible and well-illustrated collection of strategies ideal for artists (and non-artists alike) who are willing to put themselves out there for the common good.”

— Ken Krafchek, Graduate Director, MFA in Community Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art

“Amongst the best was Andrew Boyd’s compendium-like Beautiful Trouble which brought together some of the most imaginative elements of a movement influenced by a mix of non-violent direct action and the public drama of situationism.”

Mark Perryman, The Substantive

“Beautiful Trouble is one of my most dog-eared books!”

— Mary DeMocker, Co-founder and Creative Director of 350 Eugene

” … how the 99 percent do book releases.”

Molly Fischer, Capital New York

” … an endlessly fascinating and unique guide to actually fighting to win.”

” … a truly remarkable set of suggestions on how to take on the panoply of powerful adversaries that are busy destroying the planet, democracy and everything else that is decent.”

“The case studies are a wonderful antidote to defeatism because as you read the examples – and recall your own successes – you know that you could do those actions, too.”

Murray Dobbin,

“The current political moment calls for bold leaps of imagination, new forms of organizing and a fearless blend of confrontation and celebration.”

Beautiful Trouble is a crash course in the emerging field of carnivalesque realpolitik, both elegant and incendiary.”

— Naomi Klein, author of No Logo & The Shock Doctrine

” … highly readable guide to activist tactics and principles … “

Neil Ungerleider, Fast Company Magazine

” … it is about that small but vital place where an organizing campaign or movement meets the public sphere.”

“To be clear, this book is primarily about action.”

” … a true treasure trove of collective wisdom.”

” … an evolving, collaborative, and ultimately invaluable resource for action.”

“One of the best things about the book is its modular structure. […] You can wander, weaving between practice and theory, between the book and the web, forging your own path.”
Paul Kuttner,

” … this is a community resource in every sense of the word.”

” … most useful as an inspiration and as a source of reflection on what is possible.”

Robert David Steele Vivas, Public Intelligence Blog

“Drivel, bilge, waste!”

Rush Limbaugh

” . . . presents creative ways of drawing attention to injustice.”

Ruth Latta, The Compulsive Reader

” … an encyclopedia for creative activism.”

Sandra Cuff, Vancouver Media Co-op

“For your sister who scorned all the people who came down to Occupy Wall Street hoping to see Thom Yorke, a pocket-sized guide for revolution: Beautiful Trouble … “

The Airship

“Move over Abbie Hoffman, here’s the book you need to read while planning the revolution.”

“It’s the Whole Earth Catalogue for politicos.”

— Wes “Scoop” Nisker, author of Crazy Wisdom

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