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Our Collective Manifesto to 2021

We recently put out a call for contributors for a Mad-Lib style Collective Art + Design Educator's Manifesto to 2021. Intending to build a conscientious manifesto in playful Dada/Tristan Tzara sort of way, here's what we came up with*:


Oh 2020, you formidable foe! You mess! You entrenched nemesis!

What do we do with you now!?

You frenemy!

You force!

As a competitive acquaintance, you suckered us, socked us, you smelly beast! Fixing yourself to our feet, you added an unwanted layer to our warm wool socks, absurdly suffocating our feet. As challenger, you nestled yourself under our weighted blankets, challenging our safety, our need to protest, our time, our obligation… our sense(s).

( Sense::scent, lost in confused proportion. Balance unobtainable. )

We thwarted you with favorite mugs filled with ramen, sweet spangled spatulas of spiced cake, broken bread and mixtapes. Our pencils nubs nudged lesson plans, stirred anxious coffee. Our cameras tilted, capturing us in the right light.

But now we turn that energy AWAY,

putting you instead in your rightful place. AWAY.

Your presence now, an abstract cube, 

(picture Tony Smith’s Die circa 1962 and indeed formidable!)

Processed & done, you’re in the rearview. Throwing our dongles in the air, we shout: Tootles! Screw you! Good Riddance! It’s not us, it's you 2020. We need space. 👋 And we’re gonna take it back





The overall health of Me, Myself, and I is inextricably bound to US, THE COLLECTIVE. Me, You, Us, together we’ll map out a return to what’s been lost but still of value. We’ll hammer out the structures that matter, exacting better boundaries with our “No”s and new Exact-o blades. With opened minds, sustained by gifted books, now more informed and connected we venture forward to reframe adventure, exploration, and genuine empathy for our students, each other, and ourselves.

We will work to foster their desire to find their own voice again. They will know its value in a collective environment no matter how it is institutionally offered. Personal responsibility, ambition, and a willingness to seek what’s beyond their current situation will be championed. ALL STUDENTS must know their brave imaginations and independent thoughts have places in this entrenched world and through their action, they will be made manifest.


Stop cleaning surfaces for everyone else-- in our physical classrooms and metaphorically speaking.

Whether online or face-to-face, we will funnel our efforts to holding welcoming space and ensuring access to (physical and conceptual) tools. Dear students, you have agency and resources here, too! And when those set on recruitment and retention want things to be bright and shiny, we’ll leave the facade work to them.

Adapt our strategies and goals as we go.

Screw locked-in syllabi and course calendars. Our students can’t be the only ones allowed breathing room. Like pliers, of all shapes and sizes, we will use the right tool for the right job, or improvise on the fly, using what best serves to bridge our ideas back and forth FREELY with OUR OWN FORCE and available strength from moment to moment.

Nimbly question, tinker, fuss, poke, finagle any and all challenges we confront.

Fostering play and experimentation for our students, but also empowering our teaching. We do NOT judge uncertainty, instead see it as valued opportunity.

Empower students to make honest, vulnerable, experimental work

instead of work for a grade or work that feels fashionable.

Promote patience, persistence, an open mind, and kindness to themselves and others!

Academia doesn’t deserve their perfection.

Detask our to-do lists, making more time for ourselves.

We will say “No” more often, saving that Muji ballpoint pen, 0.38mm for our sketchbook’s radical imaginings instead

To publish (but not perish) in ways that bring us joy

and also reach others in truly affecting ways. 

Humor ourselves more.

Awkwardness is honest and laughter has healing power when offered without offense. So we will unabashedly put ourselves out there, empowering unique voices and work to diminish anxieties as we build an empathetic community and let ourselves feel. 

Let our art practices become as prominent as our teaching,

carving out more time and focus in the studio. We deserve it back.

Advocate for ourselves without shame and advocate for justice at the top of our lungs!

Be present. Like the goodness that transforms and transpires in the french press on the kitchen counter, we’ll steep warmly, immersed. Aromas awakening, stirring delights.

2021, let’s be friends!

Filling magnetic classroom studios and glowing darkrooms anew, we look to you for promising possibilities. We will to consistently channel the power of the mystical space between our brains and our hands, threading together a relevantly beautiful cacophony of empowered voices--welcomed, supported, inspired, changed and ever-changing!

This utopia is within our reach! 

We know the true power of design and well-articulated vision. Collectively, we will find our way out from under those weighted blankets.

Entrenchment, be gone!

We, THIS COLLECTIVE, will meet again to exchange JOYS

of our classrooms and our studios, banishing infrequent gatherings, instead finding ourselves saying “CHEERS!” in cozy, crowded bars and noctiflorous 🌔🦉🌺jazz venues.

2021, join us on this dance floor with your gloriously awkward dance moves.



Thanks to collaborators

Craig Coleman, Scott Ellegood, Meredith Haggerty, Erin Hoffman, Bethanie Irons, Lily Kuonen, Christine Lorenz, Lisa Maione, Jack Michael, Lauren McCleary, Matthew T McLaughlin, Susan Schwartz Silva, Meredith Starr, Heather Szatmary, Patrick Vincent, Susan Altman, & Evie Woltil Richner for lending us their words to work from on this project. WDWDN Contributing Editors Stacy Isenbarger & Naomi J. Falk authored and threaded together the rest!

*Text colored THIS or THIS or THIS above notates submissions pulled from our collaborative writing process.


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