Prank websites. Militant carnivals. Flash Mobs. Virtual sit-ins. Guerrilla musicals. Social activism has a creative new edge that is melding prank and PR, and blurring the boundaries between artist and activist, direct action protest and pop art. Until recently these audacious actions were the preserve of a bold and zany few, but the “beautiful trouble” of creative activism is spreading.

Beautiful Trouble is not another how-to manual; it’s a how-to-think manual. We gathered artists and activists together (often with the assistance of much alcohol) to tease out a core set of interlocking design principles—what the design field would call a “pattern language“—so that this collective wisdom can become useful to the next generation of change-makers. It’s a widely collaborative effort that was written–in a somewhat novel fashion–in the Google cloud, with me serving less as head writer and more as Editor and Wrangler-in-Chief.

The book is published by O/R Books, and available now at

If you’re a real aficionado, take a look at the precursor manual, the Activist Cookbook.