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Welcome to the smartMeme network.

We are a group of writers, thinkers, artists, organizers and activists who share a common goal of building a culture of change grounded in earth-centered values and democratic principles.

We hold a central belief that social change movements must move beyond single issue politics and articulate holistic, values based critiques with the power to transform popular culture.

Our aim is to seek out points of intervention within the dominant cultural narratives which expose the inherent contradictions between a global system based on exploitation, injustice and ecological devastation and the basic values of life, hope and justice.

Our vision is for activists, artists,cultural critics and people of conscience to pry open the existing cultural mythology, expose the flawed assumptions of the current global system and strategically insert the fertile seeds of a true earth based democracy.

Are you thinking along similar lines? Millions of us are! So let's begin networking our laboratories of resistance and transformation. Explore, investigate and unravel the old mythologies that are shaping your cultural space. Together we can push the frontiers of creative direct action and help de-colonize the collective imagination. We have a world to win back..... launched March 21, 2003. Help us build this site and community! Visit the smartmeme Library to read the full versions of previously published smartmeme essays. Check out our smartmeme Glossary. Join the smartmeme network today!

Bring smartmeme to your school or community! We can tailor our trainings to your needs - from a 2 hour overview workshop to a three day intensive seminar. Smartmeme's founding collective members are also available for participation in conferences and speaking events. For more information please contact us at 415-255-9133 or

WHAT IS A MEME? (pronounced meem) a unit of self-replicating cultural transmission (ex. ideas, slogans, melodies, symbols) which spreads virally from brain to brain. The word was coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976 from a Greek root meaning "to imitate" to draw the analogy with "gene". In the words of Glenn Grant a meme is "a contagious information pattern". For those of us working to inject new ideas into popular culture the concept of the meme (which is of course itself a meme) can be a potent tool for analyzing ways in which our ideas will impact people. Particularly in this age of mass(ive) media, information saturation and rapid replication, social change movements must think more clearly about how our critiques and ideas can spread most effectively through the culture. Memes are not a magic wand or silver bullet that allows us to forget about organizing and long term struggle, but being conscious of what memes we create and use can make the other tools in our social change tool box exponentially more effective.

Explore and learn about: symbology, language and power, organizing philosophy, cultural studies, ecological resistance movements, controlmemes, psychic breaks and the tipping point, values crises, street trends, netwar, radical politics and pop culture, American mythology, postmodern media, communications strategy and tactics, antiwar organizing, cultural engineering, memetic intervention, direct action and applied linguistics.

Our favorite authors include many, here is what we're reading at the moment: Angela Carter, Michel Foucault, Marshall Mcluhan, Kalle Lasn, Ursula K. LeGuin, Marge Piercy, Kenneth Burke, Jean Baudriallard, Emma Goldman, Sut Jhally, Umberto Eco, Claude Levi-Strauss, David Abram, Daniel Quinn, Derrick Jensen, bell hooks and Paul Virilio.

Point of Assumption Action: De-Starbucking SF - by Patrick Reinsborough

One seemingly normal August morning many residents of San Francisco were startled to arrive at their local Starbucks for a corporate caffine fix and find 17 Bay area stores had been closed! The windows were soaped, FOR LEASE signs displayed and a stunning letter posted on Starbuck's letterhead explained that as part of it's Social Responsibility Program Starbucks would be closing thousands of its retail locations worldwide.

The letter signed by Starbucks Senior V.P. of Corporate Social Responsibility, Sandra Taylor, explained that Starbuck's efforts "to promote a sustainable social, ecological and economic model for the production and trade of coffee" had led Starbucks to abandon the global economy and return to its roots as a small, local company. "The global economy requires a relentless substitution of quantity over quality and shareholder value over human values," read the statement. "We are moving over and making room for local coffee bars, our last best example of our commitment to fine coffee and local culture that got us into the business in the first place."

Needless to say, the Starbucks corporation had not undergone a dramatic epiphany, but rather had been effectively targeted by creative, anonymous activists. The action caused quite a stir, both for customers and passers-by, but even more importantly around the water coolers, dinner tables and bar stools of San Francisco.

Posted by admin on Friday, September 05 @ 18:40:04 MDT (123 reads)
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RNC Not Welcome in NYC!
action MemesAnonymous writes "We have just launched a new site called RNC Not Welcome. Check it out at

The site is meant to be a resource for local activists and for people planning to travel here to protest, disrupt [etc.] the Republican National Convention in September 2004.

It may seem early to launch a site [1 year & 3 months from the RNC] but we feel it is necessary to get organized now so that we can avoid mistakes made in other mobilizations (WEF, RNC in Philly, World Bank in DC, DNC in LA-2000)...

Posted by Admin on Friday, June 27 @ 11:03:25 MDT (22 reads)
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The Day After - Protest, Dissent & Weaving A New Narrative - By Ilyse Hogue
feature MemesThe day after the United States began to drop bombs on the Iraqi people, San Francisco was the stage to widespread creative dissent to what is an illegal and unjustifiable war. The nascent pro-peace movement in this city and across the nation burst onto the scene with a cacophony of voices and tactics that mirror the living, thriving human ecosystems we inhabit. That day crystallized the willingness of hundreds of thousands to stand with the global majority in opposing this war. The reasons for peopleís actions are not monolithic just as the tactics are not. Like an ecosystem this movementís strength lies in the symbiotic exchange and interweaving of diverse voices raised to inscribe a new cultural narrative upon the American consciousness.

Wandering around San Francisco on the first day of the war, I was exhilarated, moved, and occasionally both tearful and frightened. While there were low points in the day, the overwhelming feeling was one of awe and wonderment at the colors and sounds and smells of resistance. On one corner 40 "Yogis for peace" silently exhibited perfect yoga positions in front of a line of riot police. Down the street, Tibetan prayers flags flew as I saw a father answer his sonís boisterous call to occupy the intersection. At the Federal Building, when the late afternoon winds blew in and the sun ceased to shine on the alley, shivering protestors blocking the doors were infused with new energy by an impromptu dance party when a sound system arrived on a bicycle. There was no knowing what was around the next corner, but whatever it was it was sure to delight the senses and highlight the lengths people were willing to go to oppose the death occurring at that moment in our names. Who were all of these people and where did they come from?

Posted by Admin on Friday, June 27 @ 10:41:38 MDT (24 reads)
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memes: USDnA Head - By smartMeme
action Memes

This smartMeme image was made for confronting the biotechnology industry, the USDA, and the WTO in Sacramento.

Posted by Admin on Friday, June 27 @ 10:22:04 MDT (22 reads)
(comments? | memes | Score: 3)

A New Season of Resistance Begins This Equinox!
action MemesThe start of the war in Iraq has coincided with the beginning of the smartMeme "points of assumption" scouting season. Many actvists are putting these ideas to use in the laboratory of the street, DON'T STOP!!! Once we get each other out of the jails we invite everyone back here to report on the "points of intervention" that people discovered. We will have some suggestions this summer for how to "report back" and share insights in the smartMeme forum. See you in the streets!

A season of revitalized resistance. The vernal equinox is a time where death and resurrection of the planet have been celebrated in some way or other for millenia. Certainly there exist some really dead ideas out there that should be turned under, and some others that need to be reexamined or reinvented. Now itís time to figure out what seeds we need to be planting to grow better ideas. And ask what we want to harvest from them. (bear with the overt metaphoric allegory here please) There is a fallow mental landscape in your area in need of some serious attention. Dig it up! Identify the cultural weeds (some of them may be useful) and sift out the large rocks and garbage of consumerism and perception management. Fertilize the fields of resistance. Detourne the masters tools and remember: if youíre not having fun, youíre missing the point!

Posted by Admin on Friday, March 21 @ 23:07:17 MST (79 reads)
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The Origins of the Radical Environmental Action Meme - By James John Bell
feature Memes

Okay, so itís true these mothers have turned prairies into dustbowls and used the sea for a giant sewer and laid concrete where there used to be forests. So stop them! Donít just let them walk over you, crush you face-down into the dirt! Crush them first!
- John Brunner, The Sheep Look Up

When did you last bask in the sun, friends? When did you last dare drink from a creek? When did you last risk picking fruit and eating it straight from the tree? What were your doctorís bills last year? Which of you live in cities where you donít wear a filtermask?
- John Brunner, The Sheep Look Up

Back in the early 1970's when environmental radicals plotted actions that would later spawn such groups as Earth First! and the Rainforest Action Network they had some inspiration from the earlier peace and anti-nuclear movements. In the back country, after a day of blocking sewage pipes and out running the security of polluting mega-corporations, they found inspiration in a book that they carried in their backpacks. The author of which, John Brunner, had helped launch some of the most successful anti-nuke protests of all time, and he poured that experience into crafting a story about a future radical environmental movement that was just as vibrant. His science fiction in this tale has inspired some of the more outlandish and radical tactics of environmentalists to this day, but unfortunately the America portrayed in the book would be more familiar to us now....

Posted by Admin on Friday, June 27 @ 11:26:15 MDT (50 reads)
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Frodo Has Failed, Bush Has the Ring - By Abigail Singer
action Memes
Katuah Earth First! hung a banner saying "Frodo has failed - Bush has the ring" over a Hooters billboard on interstate 40 in Knoxville. I was one of the climbers, and it went off perfectly, tons of media coverage, radio interviews...

Check out these pictures and media coverage...... Hope you're all well!


Posted by Admin on Friday, June 27 @ 10:52:40 MDT (71 reads)
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San Francisco Self-Organizes to Implode Empire - By Patrick Reinsborough
feature Memes

From Piece Movement to Peace Movement

America's latest war of conquest has been met with massive resistance in the United States and around the world. In particular the response in San Francisco was inspiring - 20,000 people engaged in mass non-violent direct action to shut down the financial district. Over the course of the four business days after the war began on March 20th nearly 2600 were arrested for engaging in acts of protest and resistance, and the momentum continues! Corporations invested in the mass destruction business (like Bechtel, Citibank and the Carlyle Group) had their offices blockaded as did a military recruiting station, the British consulate and a Federal office building. Using tactics ranging from lock-downs to mobile blockades and critical mass bike rides Bay area residents transformed the usually car clogged consumption zone into a living statement of hope and life-affirming resistance to Bush's war for empire.

Posted by Admin on Friday, June 27 @ 10:37:51 MDT (33 reads)
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memes: Recall of the Wild - By smartMeme
action Memes

This smartMeme image is the inside front cover of The Earth First! Journal (July/August 2003)

Posted by Admin on Friday, June 27 @ 10:11:01 MDT (23 reads)
(comments? | memes | Score: 5)

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This website reflects the shared imagination of:
James John Bell,
J Cookson,
Ilyse Hogue, &
Patrick Reinsborough.

To expand upon or collaborate to implement some of these strategies contact us at
415-722-1846 or

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