put up your dukes, asshole

put up your dukes, asshole

Over the past couple of days, I’ve heard from a number of friends with questions about what they should do in response to the outcome of the election; how they can have a impact in the face of the administration that will be in The White House in January. I’ve written this post with those folks in mind.

1. He’s going to be President. And even if you magically get rid of him, then you have Mike Pence. 

I don’t say this to suggest that people shouldn’t be in the streets chanting “Not my president!” this week and throughout the four years he (presumably) will be in office. It’s INCREDIBLY important that this is happening. It’s obviously cathartic for those who are involved, but it also sends a message to him and to those who will work with him (like the Republican-led Senate and House) that he does not have a resounding mandate from the American people. (He may have been given the keys to the car, but our hands are firmly on the parking brake.) It also sends a valuable message internationally: we’re not all xenophobic, racist, sexist assholes with messiah complexes and we don’t want to be told what to do by someone who is. Many of us, in fact, know how to and would like to play nicely, with the recognition that the global sandbox is large – and diverse.

I DO say this because I’ve seen people share ideas for how to prevent his ascension and I think it’s a waste of time and energy that is going to be greatly needed over the next four years. And it ignores the reality that Mike Pence may not be a blowhard, but he IS a homophobic prick who wants to take control of our bodies away from women and that, even if we get rid of Pence, the next in line is Speaker Paul Ryan. (Shudder.)

We need to confront reality: this is the card we have been dealt. Play it.

2. Stay and do your part.

For those of you who are talking about leaving? That’s nice for you, but there are a whole bunch of folks who don’t have that luxury and could use your help.

3. Educate yourself. Just because he doesn’t understand how the government works doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either.

In addition to the fact that he is a liar, a pig, and a racist, xenophobic, sexist creep, the thing that has driven me most batty about him is that he doesn’t seem to know how government works. He hasn’t read the Constitution (Could someone get this man a copy of the Constitution for Dummies?), he doesn’t grasp checks and balances and the limitations of the Executive Office and – which is weird for a Republican – he seems to think more power sits in the federal government (versus with the states) than actually does. The asshat doesn’t even know what Obamacare is, except that he doesn’t like it. I supported Hillary, in part, for the same reason I hire someone who knows how to use a camera when we need to film something; she knows how it works.

The thing is, a fair number of us need to pull out our U.S. Civics textbooks too, if we’re going to be able to be effective in response to the shit that is going to be flying our way. In particular, it is important to know what gets decided at the state/local versus federal level. For many of us who are lucky enough to live in “blue” states, we can advocate for and support our state, county, and city-level lawmakers to pass legislation that reflects our values and protects our neighbors and which can counter more hateful decisions that are being made at the federal level. (In most cases, state law overrides federal law.) We can also pay attention to what is happening at the state, county, and city-level in OTHER states and engage our friends who live there to be involved and do the same.

The kinds of issues that are decided locally versus at the federal level include many/most voting rights issues, education policy, LGBTQ discrimination/anti-discrimination policies, reproductive rights, police/criminal justice reform, and more. It is something about which you can be hopeful because you HAVE POWER.

4. We have allies at the federal level. 

While I hope they don’t choose to obstruct for the sake of being obstructionists – like their GOP brethren did in response to Obama – there are quite a few Democrats in the House and Senate who will be grabbing hands and playing the most important game of Red Rover EVER. They may represent you, they may not. But they need to hear from you when the time comes. And those who don’t seem like obvious allies? They need to hear from you too. There are plenty of GOP members of Congress who think he is bat shit crazy. Appeal to their better selves.

5. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Support the folks who were doing work before and will continue to do tomorrow and the day after as well.

I’ve seen some folks talk online about starting new organizations. PLEASE avoid the temptation. Of course, I say this with the SIGNIFICANT caveat that Black Lives Matter is relatively newly created and has had an invaluable impact. But it was done so organically and because there was a gap that needed to be filled and its message resonated with those who became involved and who may not have been involved otherwise. (Read Jeff Chang’s We Gon’ Be Alright for his take on their origin story and because Jeff is one of the most important voices in this country.) So, sure, if there IS a gap, fill it. But educate yourself first and consider making the groups who are not as strong as they could be STRONG.

I know of LOTS of groups who are getting by with minimal staff and tiny budgets that could use volunteers, people who can help them to get their messages out, and MONEY to help them to change the world. And I would be happy to share them with you if you’re looking to have an impact on a particular issue.

6. Subscribe to a newspaper.

I’m serious. Pay for your content. The next President has been hostile to the press, particularly those who call him out on his lies. WE NEED THEM. They fact check his bullshit. They let us know what is UP. And they NEEDS TO GET PAID to be able to continue to do so or they go away.

7. SCOTUS are people.

I am admittedly terrified about the impact that he will have on the Supreme Court – for generations to come. But while it can be scary that many decisions that affect our lives are decided by NINE people, they are in fact people. And one of the criteria they consider when they make their decisions is whether or not the country is READY for the change that would result from their decisions. So, get your shit together and pay attention to the SCOTUS docket (the SCOTUS blog is your friend) and, when an issue that is important to you is coming up, TALK ABOUT IT. Share news stories about it. In a couple of months, Aggregate is going to be on your case to talk about transgender issues for this very reason. SHOW UP.

8. Rock the Vote EVERY Day.

About twenty years ago I moved to Los Angeles to work at Rock the Vote. I ran a campaign that aimed to help young people understand that policy change happened on a day-to-day basis; that Election Day was not the only chance you had to have your voice heard. We traveled the country looking for stories of real young people who were getting skate parks built, overturning city council decisions to prevent all ages shows, increasing funding for higher education. And we found the little bastards. They recognized their ability to have an impact on issues that mattered to them. Please do the same. And please ask me – and my team – when you need help to do so. Our jobs became more difficult on November 8, but our passion for social justice persists.

Put up your dukes, asshole, we’re coming to get you.

If you have any more ideas, please share in the comments.

worthy in your eyes

worthy in your eyes

Aggregate celebrated four years of being in business this October and today we celebrate four years of showing our gratitude by giving back. We donate approximately 10 percent of our profits each year.

Selecting the organizations to which we make donations is a collaborative process, with staff proposing their ideas for organizations that reflect Aggregate’s values as a company: committed to social justice and equity, unapologetic about their passion, and believers in storytelling – in its many forms – as a tool for social change.

Every day in our work, we must pitch ideas to clients and make effective arguments as to why they should be embraced. And we must develop and execute upon communications strategies that impel people to take actions that will help our clients achieve their missions. So these pitches are also an opportunity for staff to hone their skills. In this case, they need to convince ME to write a check.

Wait…WHAT? Subjective decision-making?

Yep.

Just as many of our “worthy” ideas never see the light of day because we have failed to convince a client to embrace them, only a few among the many that are worthy of our support ultimately make the list.

Once again I am proud of the team for their ideas. We share these organizations with you in the hopes that you will consider joining us in supporting them. But if we don’t convince you, we hope you’ll still share your good fortune with other organizations that are worthy in your eyes.

We remained loyal.
We made our fourth annual donation to the Southern Center for Human Rights. The Center provides legal representation to people facing the death penalty, improves legal representation for people who are low-income, and challenges human rights violations in prisons and jails. This year was also the fourth year we made a donation to the Ali Forney Center in New York City, which provides services to homeless LGBTQ youth. And for the fourth year in a row, we made the donation in honor of Spencer Cox, who gave so much to all of us in his efforts to end the AIDS pandemic.

We did something we never did before.
We maintain a strict line between our charitable donations and our business development efforts (i.e., we’re sincere), so we’ve never made a donation to a client organization. But then we had the honor of working with the Abortion Care Network. At the end of a year during which women’s access to their constitutional right to plan their families was attacked repeatedly, we think it’s an imperative to support providers who literally risk their lives every day to provide exceptional care to their patients. The Abortion Care Network is small in size, but enormous in ambition and their value to the abortion care community. We want them to succeed.

We believe in justice – in all its manifestations.
We’re heading into an election year and we need to be prepared to ensure that those who want to go to the polls are not impeded and their votes are counted, so we made the decision to support Common Cause. We appreciate how the Campaign for Youth Justice uses storytelling in their effort to end the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system, so we made a donation to them to help them to continue to do so. We made a donation to Girls Who Code to help bridge the gender gap and inspire, educate, and equip more girls to have the computing skills they need to succeed. We donated to The Marshall Project, a nonprofit media organization focused on reporting on the American criminal justice system, because they help to make us smarter every day. We donated to Seattle’s Splash to support their efforts to provide clean water to kids around the world and, specifically, in response to the earthquake in Nepal this past April. And we made a donation to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project to better enable the organization to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence. And because we love Sylvia.

We’re good friends.
We made a donation to The Lowline in New York to support our friend Dan Barasch to build an underground park in an historic trolley terminal on the Lower East Side. We supported Kat Galasso’s Kickstarter campaign to relaunch The Floatones at La Mama. And we supported another friend to show support to HIS friend by riding in DC’s Ride to Conquer Cancer.

We (still) love filmmakers.
For the third year in a row we are supporting the True/False Pay the Artists Program to enable the festival to financially support the filmmakers who screen their films at the fest (beyond travel costs) and to encourage others to invest in independent documentary filmmaking.

We attended Good Pitch this October and made donations to two of the films presented that day: Whose Streets and Canary in a Coal Mine. Whose Streets is the Ferguson MO story as told by the activists who took to the streets when Michael Brown is murdered by the police. It is “a first-hand look at how the murder of one teenage boy became the last straw for a community under siege.” Canary in a Coal Mine brings attention to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), which disproportionately impacts women. (And is being executive produced by our hero Debby Hoffman.)

We love Seattle.
Last year we gave money to KEXP (for the second year in a row) to help them to move into their new studio at the Seattle Center. They made that move this month. This year we’re making our third annual donation to make sure they know how grateful we are to them for helping to make Seattle a great place to call home.

Unfortunately, calling Seattle home continues to become a greater and greater challenge to too many people. For the second year in a row we have made a donation to the Tenants Union of Washington State to support their ability to advocate on behalf of tenants.

We made a donation to the International Rescue Committee in Seattle to welcome refugees who have come to our fair city and allow them to rebuild their lives by providing housing, health care, food, education, and legal and social services.

Finally, we made a donation to our local YWCA, supporting their efforts to empower women who are facing poverty, violence and discrimination in our backyard.

Thank you to everyone who makes our giving possible. Best wishes for the new year.

sharing our good fortune

sharing our good fortune

Selecting the organizations with which we share our good fortune is a group effort that includes our full time staff as well as the collaborators with whom we work. My request to them is that they share ideas that reflect who we are as a company: we want to support organizations that are unapologetic about their passion, who use storytelling as a strategy to achieve their goals, or have simply reached us with a powerful story about their work.

I’m proud of the people who have joined me in building Aggregate and of the ideas they shared this year. I hope you’ll consider joining us in supporting the following organizations.

We believe in justice.

We have now made our third annual donation to the Southern Center for Human Rights, which provides legal representation to people facing the death penalty, challenges human rights violations in prisons and jails and improves legal representation for people who are low-income. We made the donation in the name of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

After reading about Lenzi Sheible, the 20-year old founder of Fund Texas Choice in The New York Times, we felt compelled to make a donation to enable her to do her important work. Because of legislation passed in the state of Texas—as well as in a number of other states—women often must travel long distances to access abortion services and many cannot afford to do so. So our donation will support Lenzi and Fund Texas Choice to cover those costs.

In July, we paid a Detroit resident’s overdue water bill  to prevent their water from being turned off thanks to the quick organizing and deft communication skills of the Detroit Water Project. We admire them for jumping in to address a need and for ensuring others both understood what was happening and that they could do something to help.

And in September, we made a donation to the Center for Death Penalty Litigation after they successfully worked to enable the exoneration of two men—Henry McCollum and Leon Brown—who had been on death row for 30 years in North Carolina for a rape and murder they did not commit.

We love filmmakers. 

Because 1) we like working with Josh Simon, 2) because criminal justice should be just, and 3) because Josh asked, we made a donation to support the production of This Place is Dirty. This new documentary—currently in production—is about Jon Burge, a former Chicago Police detective who was convicted of torturing criminal suspects for nearly twenty years.

For the second year in a row we are supporting the True/False Film Fest‘s Pay the Artist program to enable the festival to support the filmmakers who screen their films at the Fest (beyond travel costs) and to encourage others to invest in independent documentary filmmaking. (We’ll  be announcing additional support for the festival soon, so stay tuned.)

We made additional donations to support the re-release of Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer as well as the Sarah Jacobsen Film Grant, which is a grant for young women filmmakers “whose work embodies some of the things that Sarah stood for: a fierce DIY approach to filmmaking, a radical social critique, and a thoroughly underground sensibility.”

We think young people deserve better.

This year was also the third year we made a donation to the Ali Forney Center in New York City, which provides services to LGBTQ youth. And for the third year in a row, we made the donation in the name of Spencer Cox, the great AIDS activist who died in 2012.

Closer to home, the Sanctuary Art Center in Seattle works with homeless and street youth to enable them “to experience creativity and success through art.” We supported them this year to buy a new press. They reached that goal, but they have countless additional needs, so we’re confident that would appreciate your support as well.

We also gave to the national organization, Girls on the Run, which uses running as a strategy for promoting self-esteem, teamwork and a positive body image for young girls.

We love Jay Smooth.

We made a donation to WBAI‘s hip hop show Underground Railroad, which is hosted by our favorite video blogger Jay Smooth. Jay was such an important and smart voice on race relations this year, someone to whom we looked to make sense of a series of events and a world that often made no sense at all.

We love Seattle.

We also gave money to our hometown public radio station KEXP (for the second year in a row) to support their efforts to build a new home in Seattle. As I said last year, they are a significant contributor to making Seattle the amazing place it is and we’re grateful to them for filling our office with music every day.

KEXP is building a new home at a time when the real estate market in Seattle has gone apeshit, leaving many of our lower income neighbors in situations where they are paying an unlivable percentage of their income to put a roof over their heads. It’s a heady time to live in Seattle—if you are among the privileged who can still afford it. So, we’re supporting the Tenants Union of Washington State to enable them to continue to be advocates for tenants’ rights. Thanks to the fabulous Ansel Herz at The Stranger for pointing us in their direction.

We owe it to veterans (especially Ryan).

My friend Ryan Friedrichs came home safe this year after serving for the past three years in the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Afghanistan. To express our gratitude for and admiration of Ryan, we made a donation to the Veteran Artist Program, which has a mission to “foster, encourage and promote veteran artists.”

We love food.

Finally, we gave to L.A. Kitchen, which “reclaims local, healthy food that would otherwise be discarded, training men and women who are unemployed for jobs and providing healthy meals.” L.A. Kitchen was founded recently by Robert Egger, who founded D.C. Kitchen 24 years ago as the first “community kitchen.”

Best wishes to everyone for the new year. Give when you can.

giving away money

giving away money

It’s time again for our end of year donations, but the truth is that Aggregate gives money throughout the year. Sometimes we do so to show our admiration and other times our love. Sometimes we do so because a great story compels us or because we want to support our friends. We always do so because the missions that these organizations pursue—as well as generosity—are core to our values.

  • In February, we donated to the True Life Fund at the True/False Film Fest, which is run by our Creative Director, David Wilson. Each year, True/False selects one of the films in their program and raises money to “support and honor those who appear in front of the camera.” In 2013, the True Life Fund film was Which Way is the Front Line from Here?, about Tim Hetherington, a conflict zone photojournalist who was killed in 2011 while covering the civil war in Libya. The money we donated went to support Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues and the Milton Margai School for the Blind in Sierra Leone, an organization that Tim supported when he was alive.
  • In March we donated to the Brothers of a Boston Fraternity because we were so impressed with their decision to support their transgender brother to have top surgery after his insurance company denied his claim.
  • In June we donated to PATH, our neighbors in Seattle, to support their efforts to transform global health through innovation.
  • In August we donated to the Maplewood Barn Community Theater to support the Willy Wilson Scholarship to support high school graduates to study performing arts in college. Willy, David’s dad, passed away this summer. In addition to being a talented performer, Willy gave us David, for which we are eternally grateful.
  • In September, we donated to support friends who were riding in the Canary Challenge to raise money for cancer research at the Stanford Cancer Institute.
  • In November, we donated to charity: water because it was the least we could do to show Paull Young that we admired his willingness to wear a Speedo on the streets of Philadelphia in November.

Through these donations, we nearly doubled what we gave through our year-end contributions last year.

For this year’s donations, we renewed our commitment to last year’s recipients: the Ali Forney Center (again, in honor of Spencer Cox), which provides housing for homeless LGBT youth in New York, and the Southern Center for Human Rights, which provides legal representation to people facing the death penalty, challenges human rights violations in prisons and jails, seeks to improve legal representation for poor people accused of crimes, and advocates for criminal justice system reforms on behalf of those affected by the system in the Southern United States.

As far as new recipients, staff contributed their ideas and these are the additional groups that have received our support:

  • We made a donation to KEXP in Seattle because we listen to them every day in the office and because of their own contribution to making our favorite city an amazing place to live.
  • Finally, after seeing Jim Olson speak at PopTech in October and then again this month in Seattle, we made a donation to Project Violet at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. It is Jim’s ambition, commitment, innovative approach and amazing skills as a storyteller that caught our eye. We’re honored to be able to help him and his team.

In total, our donations this year were three times what we gave away last year. We did well and we gave back. We hope you’ll consider giving to some of the same organizations to which we donate.

Best wishes for the new year.

takeaways from tedxrainier 2013

takeaways from tedxrainier 2013

Amy, Melissa and I attended the fourth-annual TEDxRainier event, held in the historic and stunning 5th Avenue Theater in downtown Seattle. Focused on a theme of “Rethink,” the day was filled with unique, thought-provoking talks covering topics like the intelligence of crows, using human bodies as a canvas, and technology that can connect two brains.

After the event, we discussed our favorite talks and the presentations that led us to rethink our own perspectives.

What was your favorite part of the event?

Amy: Dani Cone’s presentation—which focused on her Grandma Molly’s mantra, “Be good. Do well”—struck a chord. It was 2008, and Dani had opened three Fuel Coffee shops and was responsible for 21 employees. As the recession hit, she searched for ideas that would keep people coming in the door. She wanted to create comfort in not-so-comfortable times. She thought about how “people come together over pie” and decided to open High 5 Pie. She said realized that “be good” wasn’t necessarily about doing what you’re good at—it was about creating good.

I was a beneficiary of the comforting food and setting that Dani created. When I first moved to Seattle in 2009, I spent many days in Wallingford’s Fuel Coffee doing homework for grad school and freelancing. The baristas were friendly and warm, dispelling notions of the dreaded “Seattle Freeze.” It provided me comfort in not-so-comfortable times, as Dani set out to do. I appreciated Dani’s ability to tell a great story—she captivated the audience with her honest, compelling and succinct talk.

Barbara: I felt really connected to the message of Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author and naturalist. Lyanda spoke of the importance of embracing the wildlife that exists in our cities and throwing away the notion that humans and wildlife should be separated and only encounter each other in the wild. I take every opportunity to get to the mountains and forests to hike, camp, and enjoy nature and wildlife away from the crowded city streets. However, I can also be found admiring the squirrel lounging on the park bench, the crow perched on the roof of my house happily harassing my dogs, or the random raccoon seen ambling slowly back to his home after a night of raiding the neighbor’s vegetable garden. Urban wildlife might sometimes be seen as a burden, but I truly enjoy sharing the city with them.

Melissa: My favorite part of the event was also my favorite presentation. I loved hearing from Art Wolfe about his inspirations and the evolution of his work as an artist. His newest project, Human Canvas, is breathtaking. Learning about the progression of his work with tribal communities, landscapes and animals, and how this helped mold Human Canvas, helped me appreciate his work even more.

Which presentation forced you to see something from a new perspective? 

Amy: Wildlife scientist John Marzluff gave an intriguing talk about crows’ brain power and said he was determined to convince us to use “birdbrain” as a compliment. Several crows seem to call my deck home. Much to my dismay, they bring their dinner up there and gorge themselves. After learning about their intuitive abilities and calculated risk-taking, I see my crow neighbors in a new light. They are smart and determined—and it’s probably time to befriend them.

Barbara: I enjoyed hearing from Teri Hein, executive director of 826 Seattle and former teacher with The Hutch School. Teri spoke about refusing to “hope for the best” in people, and instead assuming the best in people. By assuming the best in people, and especially children, we give them the opportunity and confidence to be open and curious. This can lead to better understanding of people and cultures that are different from your own, and hopefully, lead to a more accepting community. I love that Teri encourages not only teaching the curriculum but also using her position as a teacher to reach out to children, help them stay open-minded, and mold them into better human beings.

Melissa: Ramez Naam‘s presentation showcasing the reality of technology that is considered “sci-fi” was great. The innovations he shared were mind blowing, especially the glasses that can potentially help the blind restore partial sight. Since I don’t normally focus on this community I hadn’t realized this seemingly futuristic research is currently happening.

What did you enjoy most about attending TEDxRainier? 

Amy: Events like TEDxRainier help me learn about new organizations and projects. From Peter Speyer of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, I learned more about its Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report and online visualization tools, as well as the Roux Prize, a new $100,000 award for using GBD data to take action that makes people healthier. From physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston, I learned about her work to use documentaries to inspire compassion around mental illness and the film she made about her relationship with her father and his battle with schizophrenia. 

Barbara: I appreciated the variety found in the talks. Although I enjoyed the talks focusing on topics with which I connect, I also valued the opportunity to hear from people outside of my focus areas, expanding my awareness of research and projects happening right in my backyard. 

Melissa: I appreciated the effort put into the event, and am grateful for my increased awareness of local entrepreneurs and organizations.

To find out more about TEDxRainier and view the video of the event, check out their website.  You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

what is radical?

what is radical?

At Aggregate we strive to be radical in our strategy, creativity, and storytelling—in our work and our lives. For the Aggregate team, being radical in our work means looking at our strategy with a different lens, always ensuring we tell our and our clients’ stories in the most streamlined and effective way. Being radical means: Being brave. Taking a risk. Trying something new or unique.

So, how are we radical? I asked some of my colleagues to tell me of a time they felt the most radical in their work or in their lives, or something radical that has inspired their lives and work.

Amanda: I don’t think I’ve ever actually felt “radical”—I only see my actions as radical in retrospect, like the time I left college because I didn’t feel like I had a clear purpose there; when I returned, I did so on my terms. To me, being radical means having hope. As the filmmaker Cameron Crowe said, optimism is a revolutionary act.

Amy: I spent one summer in college traversing the Chicago neighborhoods that my well-meaning parents lectured me to never visit. While interning for The Chicago Reporter, an inspiring investigative magazine focused on race and poverty, I interviewed dozens of people in the areas surrounding Cabrini Green and other public housing developments that were in the process of being demolished. Getting to know so many people whose lives were changing dramatically, who were being forced to relocate and enduring myriad hardships, was transformative. This experience reinforced my plans for my life and career: I was determined to work toward positive social change.

Barbara: From shipping myself to the Czech Republic at age 20 to study international politics, then to Denver for my grad program in International Development & Environmental Sustainability, to taking a chance on Seattle and landing this incredible job with Aggregate, I have always approached work and life with the idea that while you must make the most of what you have, you must not be afraid to try something new, step outside of your comfort zone, and do something radical to move forward. Whenever I’m stuck personally or professionally, I remember this quote: ‘If you don’t like where you are, then change it. You are not a tree.’ It may be messy and might not be easy, but if it isn’t working, try again and try something different. Look at it from a different angle. Do something drastic to reach your objective. Be radical. You—and your work—are not trees.

David: It’s a good question. I’ve done politically-inspired billboard modifications in the dark of night, linked arms with strangers in the streets of DC at the first WTO protests and turned my home into a sweaty all-ages punk venue. But others had done all of that stuff before, and often better. However, if I think of John Burroughs’ encouragement, “Leap, and the net will appear,” my most radical action was eschewing New York or LA after college and moving back to my hometown of Columbia, Missouri to make movies and start a film series. Eventually that series would spawn a theater and a festival and both would become cultural touchstones for our small community. That feels more real, and more radical, than any street action I’ve ever been a part of.

Josué: One late night, driving home from a show, I was stuck in traffic and noticed a completely inebriated man harassing a woman on the sidewalk. I couldn’t tell if they knew each other or if it was a random attack—all I could see was him violently grabbing and shoving her. As she tried to walk away, he pursued her. As they aligned with my car, I sprung out and interceded. I told the man to walk the other way and made sure there was a bit of distance before I got back in my idling car to rush home and change my pants.

The whole thing lasted 10 seconds, and afterwards I couldn’t believe what I’d done. I’ve never been in a fistfight and squeal at the sight of blood. But there was something radical in that moment. I didn’t think to process my decision, I only knew there was violence happening, and someone had to step in.

Melissa: In June after the Turkish government issued a ban on demonstrations, Erdem Gunduz, aka The Standing Man of Turkey, stood in silence for eight hours in the middle of square in Istanbul. Photos of Gunduz and other silent protests remind me of the importance of finding new ways of getting a message across.

Qui: Our first child is due in spring 2014. This is the most radical thing I’ve ever done.