Beautiful Trouble FTW

Winning a social change campaign requires luck. There isn’t too much advice anyone can give on how to be lucky, just do it I suppose. Luck can be bolstered with knowledge and preparation and there are a lot of organizations designed to spread that knowledge. Beautiful Trouble is the focus of this post. The organization produces resources in several formats and languages to help potential Social Justice Warriors (let’s reclaim that) fight for victories in the realm of inequality.

Naomi Klein holding a copy of Beautiful Trouble

My cousin bought me Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox For Revolution for Christmas years ago and it has been a reference source ever since. The toolbox is separated into Tactics, Principles, Theories, Case Studies, and Practitioners. The sections provide a diversity of reports on tangential subjects. Tactics goes over banner drops, flash mobs, and strategic nonviolence. Principles provide experience-driven rules for successful action and organizational structure such as challenging patriarchy, listening to the vulnerable and those affected, and making journalists jobs easier. Theories summarize the roadblocks and goals of leftist organizing, it includes sections on capitalism, debt revolts, memes, and power. The Case Studies cover well-known actions like the Battle of Seattle, Billionaires for Bush and the Tar Sands Blockade along with more obscure actions like a Taco Bell Boycott and a Harry Potter Alliance. The practitioners section looks at individuals and organizations who provided and use the strategies from the toolkit.

A Beautiful Trouble workshop in Budapest

The book is available in paperback ($25) and as an ebook ($10 or $28 for both) on the website, although the contents of the book is also available on the website. Other ‘products’ available on the website include a classroom study guide; translations of the book into German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Turkish; and in-person trainings that can cover topics like creative action, nonviolent direct action preparation, art and protest, humorous Yes Men style pranks, creative communications, strategic planning, and creative facilitation. The website makes it clear that the organization is interested in delivering assistance in the most affordable manner possible, but one can expect to pay for their trainings which can last from an hour and a half to five days.

The Beautiful Trouble community is a necessary good in contemporary America. It inspires optimism in dark times that so many people have been activated by struggles such as the ND Water Protectors against the Dakota Access Pipeline or the spike in racially or otherwise motivated violent crimes following President-Elect Donald Trump’s victory. From the perspective of somebody who believes that equality, justice, and universal access to happiness there is a seemingly insurmountable amount of work to do and the workload will only grow under the public austerity and private socialism bred by the political elite. But insurmountable tasks become surmountable as allies enter the trenches. The bigotry of the right is driving a lot of people from vulnerable communities and sympathetic allies into the trenches.

As the ranks of Social Justice Warriors swell and as the means of direct action available to us grow our potential to improve the world for everyone also grows. Communities like Beautiful Trouble will fill the role of teacher/drill sergeant for the fresh recruits and will allow our potentialities to grow faster and stronger.

Please consider buying Beautiful Trouble’s resources and donating to the cause at

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