We have a new website! Check out the latest version of our toolkit at beautifultrouble.org/toolbox

“Anyone who is interested in passionate, exciting, inspiring social movements should have a look.”

Inter Pares

Jonathan Matthew Smucker

Jonathan Matthew Smucker served as the first Training Director for Beautiful Trouble. A long-time participant, organizer, trainer, and theorist in grassroots movements for social, economic and ecological justice, Smucker has trained thousands of change agents in campaign strategy, framing and messaging, direct action, and other grassroots organizing skills. He is co-founder and Director of Beyond the Choir, a strategy and training organization. He is also a doctoral student of sociology at UC Berkeley.

Contributed Modules

Principle: Recapture the flag

Contributed by and
April 1, 2014

Love your country, and fight so that its flag and other national symbols evoke its most egalitarian and noble values.

Principle: We are all leaders

Contributed by
June 5, 2012

An otherwise healthy distrust of hierarchy can lead to a negative attitude toward all forms of leadership. Actually, we want more leadership, not less.

Principle: Seek common ground

Contributed by
June 2, 2012

In search of allies and points of agreement, we must grow comfortable adopting the rhetoric of worldviews we might otherwise oppose.

Principle: Make new folks welcome

Contributed by
June 1, 2012

Recruitment and retention go hand in hand. A few simple procedures for orienting new participants can go a long way to ensuring their ongoing involvement.

Principle: Escalate strategically

Contributed by
May 30, 2012

If dissident political groups tend to become more extreme over time, then good leaders should help define that ‘extreme’ in constructive ways.

Theory: Political identity paradox

Contributed by
May 24, 2012

Group identity offers embattled activists a cohesive community, but also tends to foster a subculture that can be alienating to the public at large. Balancing these two tendencies is crucial to sustaining the work of an effective group, organization or movement.

Theory: Expressive and instrumental actions

Contributed by , and
May 23, 2012

Political action tends to be driven by one of two different motivations: expressing an identity, and winning concrete changes. It’s important to know the difference, and to strike a balance between the two.

Theory: Floating signifier

Contributed by , and
May 9, 2012

An empty or “floating” signifier is a symbol or concept loose enough to mean many things to many people, yet specific enough to galvanize action in a particular direction.