A new kind of pop-up was working through Sunday at the northern end of Chinatown. Across the street from what once housed the Women's Building, and right next to the soon-to-be-opened Majordomo, a collective of community organizers has created a vibrant space for political art, debate, discussion and activism. Under the web umbrella of www.into-action.us, a roster of events ranging from the musical to the thought-provoking has pulled together a disparate Los Angeles community that seems hungry to find a way to be together collectively and focus political protest. The events presented included Woke Kids Social Justice Story Hour, Women's March Art Making Night with Self Help Graphics, A Discussion on Dismantling White Supremacy, a screening of "Dolores," about American activist and co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, Dolores Huerta and various DJ sets and musical performances.
I attended the Church of the Resistance on Monday night and was struck by the positive and hopeful tone of the performers, even though it was obvious from the art on display and the daily dose of news and tweets, that we are suffering through a tumultuous and trying time in our country's history.
The brainchild of Yosi Sergant, who worked with Shepard Fairey on his Hope poster in 2007, and in Washington with the National Endowment for the Arts. Sergant created Into Action to take a break from working with clients at TaskForce, the company he created to work with community organizations, to create these artistic environments that recharge his batteries and foster social change.
He realizes the importance of providing a platform for the arts in order to galvanize and energize community action around important social causes that need attention like income inequality, juvenile justice or white supremacy.
"Artists have always been at the front of the difficult conversations. They have always helped us process our grief, helped us make sense of challenges, helped us in finding our hope," he said the other day as people buzzed by in a frenzy of activity to prepare for that evening's events. He partnered with many non-profit and governmental agencies and activist/organizer Gina Belafonte to bring their vision of community outreach to the people.
Belafonte and Sergant believe that the path to resistance lies with people, and people have been inspired, energized and activated by art.
Sergant says, "If we are going to tackle these big systemic challenges: white supremacy, patriarchy... a broken criminal justice system," there is only one resource necessary: "people power, that's it."