Ricardo Levins Morales, an artist and organiser from the United States, shares his wisdom and lessons from over five decades of organising through eight lessons explained through videos and a zine featuring his beautiful artworks.
Click on each title to access each lesson pdf. View the accompanying video made by Line Break Media.
These lessons are available in digital form for free. You can also purchase the printed 24pp full colour zine/pamphlet.
My theory about a program for liberation is that it needs to be explainable by a second grader, or else it’s not very practical. It’s not usable.
It’s not so important whether it’s inside the system or outside the system, but whether your feet are firmly planted in the community where the power really originates.
Much of the best organizing starts small. That’s not always true of movements because movements can burst on the scene and take everyone by surprise, whether there’s been proper preparation or not. But organizing is different when you’re organizing from scratch. I compare it to starting a fire in the forest after a rainstorm.
We have an opportunity just by listening to and watching the enemy, to get a list of vulnerabilities, of places where the stories need to be told. They are putting so much frantic energy and desperation into trying to maintain the lies, it’s revealing where their weak places are.
The seeds are our projects, our initiatives, our campaigns, our organizations, our institutions that we want to build. The soil is the compost of beliefs, ideas, values, and narratives that create the environment in which we’re working.
The movements that are potentially destabilizing, potentially liberatory, always emerge from the margins, from outside of those fences–from the wild country, not from the cultivated fields of the liberal system. Struggles like Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, and the DREAMers, all have come out of the organic aspirations of people.
It’s actually not the tactics so much that matter, but the questions that we ask ourselves.
The things that both our foes and ourselves think are the demonstrations of their power are also the cause of their downfall. We have to be the trickster in order to understand how to develop our choreography around that.
About the Author
Ricardo Levins Morales is an artist and organizer based in Minneapolis. He uses his art as a form of political medicine to support individual and collective healing from the injuries and ongoing reality of oppression. Ricardo was born into the anticolonial movement in his native Puerto Rico and was drawn into activism in Chicago when his family moved there in 1967, including support work for the Black Panthers and Young Lords and later participating in or acting in solidarity with farmers, environmental, labor, racial justice, antiwar and other struggles for peoples empowerment. In addition to his art, he also leads workshops on creative organizing, social justice strategy and sustainable activism, and mentors and supports organizers.
RLM Art Studio is a union shop that produces and sells artwork Ricardo has made over the years as posters, cards, buttons, shirts and more. We also produce custom button pins at bulk prices for campaigns and causes. Browse and order online at RLMArtStudio.com
Full List of Resources
FULL ZINE/PAMPHLET: Tending The Soil [Parts 1-8] | 8.5×11 2-sided Printable PDF
(1) A 2nd Grade Liberation Program | 11×17 Printable | Screen-View PDF | Video
(2) Moon Spaces, Sun Spaces and Community Power | 11×17 Printable | Screen-View PDF | Video
(3) Organizing With Kindling | 11×17 Printable | Screen-View PDF | Video
(4) The Enemy Advertises Their Weak Points | 11×17 Printable | Screen-View PDF | Video
(5) The Soil is More Important Than the Seeds | 11×17 Printable | Screen-View PDF | Video
(6) Organizing On the Titanic | 11×17 Printable | Screen-View PDF | Video
(7) Tactics Are All About Context | 11×17 Printable | Screen-View PDF | Video
(8) The Empire Trips Itself | 11×17 Printable | Screen-View PDF | Video
Instructions: How to Fold & Cut Printable Pocket Zines
You can also purchase the full printed 24pp full colour zine/pamphlet.
- Ricardo Levins Morales Art Studio Website
- Commons Library – Organising Topic Area
- Commons Library – Tactics Topic Area