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February 3, 2016 - Generating Ideas for 'COUNTERACT [false] ACCOUNTABILITY': Some Inspiration

Over the past week, since we officially launched 'COUNTERACT [false] ACCOUNTABILITY'--complete with official guidelines--we've had a few people ask us if we could provide some concrete ideas. "We really want to come up with something," they've said, "but we're struggling to generate ideas. Do you have any springboard examples you could share?"

As a matter of fact, we do...

Let's start with a project that was, in fact, a major inspiration for the COUNTERACT [false] ACCOUNTABILITY initiative.

We grant you, it centers on another topic entirely, but that's the whole thing about inspiration, isn't it? Seeing one thing gives you a clue about how you could do something else altogether.

Creating a Counter-Memorial


In the early 1990s, German artists Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock responded to a competition for the design of a Holocaust memorial. Installation of the winning submission was slated for a central location in the city of Berlin. But Stih and Schnock decided to think entirely outside the box. Rather than a centralized memorial, they proposed a decentralized design for what has been termed a "counter-memorial"--80 signs to be installed on lamp posts throughout the city's Bavarian Quarter, a significant neighborhood in multiple respects. Each of the signs that the artists designed bore, on one side, a unique iconic image--a clockface, a dog, a swimming suit, a loaf of bread, etc. On the other side was printed the text of a corresponding Nazi law or regulation that had limited the ability of Jews (or Jews and Poles) to participate in normal life and civil society. 

Stih and Schnock put extensive thought into which laws and regulations they could cite most effectively to provoke awareness and remembrance. Likewise, they considered what pictorial icons could best evoke the reality of the text with which each was paired. They went yet another layer deep by strategically placing each of these lamp-post signs in locations that stood to amplify the viewer's experience--more powerfully confronting the reality of what had taken place. A sign concerning Jewish purchase of bread, for example, might be placed just across the street from a popular bakery. A sign citing a prohibition against Jews using public swimming pools might be posted near the entrance of just such a facility. And they kept the language of the prohibitions in the present tense, making it incredibly hard to dismiss.

As readers of this post might imagine, the installment got reactions...strong ones. In fact, it is perhaps one of the most successful--and controversial--memorials ever installed in Berlin or anywhere.

For those interested, you can read a good deal more about it in this 2013 anniversary article published by the New York Review of Books. The article contains lots of great images of different pieces from the project.

Bringing it Back to False Accountability in Education Reform

Clearly, Stih and Schnock's project is quite refined. It was extensive and it had to have the approval of city officials. But it was incredibly creative, smashed notions of what a memorial was, and continues to get its message through to this day.

In drawing attention to [false] accountability in education reform, we have a lot less money to work with, community leaders may not be with us, and we'll have to think and work much more quickly. But there are still a ton of things that could be done quickly and cheaply to draw attention to various angles of the accountability scam--to get your neighborhood, school district, or municipality thinking about how students, teachers, parents, and taxpayers are being bilked of education, voice, rights, and/or money.

As we've noted previously, [false] accountability harms everyone. As we're already seeing in Resounding Books' home state of Wisconsin, accountability laws are being engineered to lump everyone under the same system of control. No one is safe--not public schools, not private schools, not home schools.

More Inspiration Coming...

We'll continue to provide inspirational examples over the next few days--ideas that we hope will serve as a springboard for your own creative impulses. Grab some friends and brainstorm! Have fun!

Your project can convey the truth with humor or seriousness. It can be executed via video, graphic arts, ice sculpture, or performance. It might involve a large team of people or just a single person.

There is no single or correct mold. The sky's the limit as long as the project you propose can effectively assist in exposing aspects of the truth about [false] accountability in education reform.

Keep those creative juices flowing. We're waiting with great excitement to get a peek at your ingenuity...and begin to amplify it for impact.


The DEADLINE for submissions is 11:59 p.m. on February 15th. You just have to come up with and submit your project idea for now. Execution comes only after we've accepted your project and ensured funding for it.

If you need more ideas about [false] accountability and what it is, again, you're free to consider some of the issues we've already raised here and here, though there are plenty of other angles we haven't addressed. The key is to choose something that you believe will resonate in your community...and hopefully beyond.

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