Democracy in Action

Minneapolis St. Paul is hosting the Republican National Convention this week. The influx of political junkies is intended to jumpstart our local economy and prove to the world that Minnesota is not just flyover country anymore. I'm not sure if either of those things will happen but I have been impressed with how local community activists are using this as an opportunity to merge art and political discourse to create a variety of community building events, including the UnConvention. A non-partisan collective of citizens and cultural institutions, The UnConvention provides a forum for promoting the democratic and free exchange of ideas during and after the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota from September 1-4, 2008. My favorite project by far is the My Yard Our Message project.

My Yard Our Message is a user-created yard sign project, launched in conjunction with the United States presidential election. The project is divided into three phases: in June 2008, artists and designers were invited to submit political yard sign designs exploring ideas about what it means to actively participate in a democracy. Beginning July 1, with design submitted, and a month-long public voting process began, where browsers could cast votes for their favorite yard signs. And now that the citizenry has spoken, the top 50 vote-getting designs are available for individual purchase.

In addition, the Walker Art Center and will print the winning yard signs and place them in neighborhoods throughout the Twin Cities metro area, including those immediately surrounding the site of the Republican National Convention.