Collective Action Towards Social Justice is an social justice organizing collective of social work students, staff, and faculty at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. Born out of the upset of the 2016 election, Collective Action strives to bring various social issues and topics to the forefront of the school’s attention through art installations, community conversations, social action engagement, and more.
The Post-it Campaign: Reporting on social justice dialogues in the Mandel School
The first action by Collective Action was a look inward at the Mandel School. The campaign was comprised of 12 weeks of questions during the first 100 days of the Trump administration and an invitation to comment using Post-It notes on the first floor of the school. These crafted questions and responses were turned into a comprehensive report looking at social justice within the Mandel School.
Race and Policing
In Fall 2017, Collective Action’s first Art-in-Action and Justice on the Mic took place. Race and Policing took an in-depth look at race at the Mandel School and placed it within the context of police brutality and the increasing number of murders of unarmed Black individuals across the country. Using data from Mapping Police Violence, Collective Action traced and cut out 30+ Black bodies to put around Noble Commons; each representing a person killed as of the date of the installation in late September that year. Each body had the name of the victim, age, date of death, and the word UNARMED. Individuals were invited to sit in the circle and sit with the truth of the installation. The week installation ended with a Justice on the Mic, live performances from local Cleveland artists on the steps of the Mandel School.
Hearing the Silence
In Spring 2018, Hearing the Silence focused on gender based violence and took inspiration from the University of Kansas’ “what were they wearing” installation. With the installation, a chatterwall was included made up of various things said to survivors, both affirming and negative, trauma informed responses, and what survivors wished would have been said. This installation also ended with a Justice on the Mic, welcoming four poets to tell their stories.
Queer Love: Then and Now
In Fall 2018, Queer Love: Then and Now focused on the richness of the Cleveland LGBTQ+ community, inviting community members to share their queer story. Queer Love: Then and Now was Collective Action’s first community sourced installation. It included art, photographs, books, and more submitted by the Cleveland queer community. It also included audio and video submissions, as well as panels from Cuyahoga Community College that showcased the history of queer movements and activism across the country. It culminated in a live storytelling from community members.
Portraits of Homelessness
In March 2019, Portraits of Homelessness depicted experiences of homelessness in Cleveland and abroad, highlighting the diversity of experiences and continuing the conversation for social workers and advocates for social justice. Th exhibit was co-sponsored by Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, which provided images from a photovoice project featuring photographs and stories of residents from the Men’s Shelter at 2100 Lakeside in Cleveland, and the Social Justice Institute, which shared paintings of Karachi street children by emerging Pakistani artist Aneela Arshad.
In addition to art-in-action, Collective Action organizes marketplaces to showcase local vendors. For Hispanic Heritage Month, they sponsor a Latinx Cultural Festival and for Black History Month, they sponsor a Black Excellence Marketplace.
Learn more about Collective Action Towards Social Action on our social media.