The Big Bang of Collective Action: The Origins of the Universe

This is part of “The Big Bang of Collective Action”, a nonlinear list essay by me, Jason Wyman, Impact Producer for The Alliance for Media Arts and Culture. It captures in its simple complexity the breadth of The Alliance’s Youth Media Collective Action Initiative.

Each “bullet” in the list contains both a visual code and a story. Some stories are metaphor. Some are poetry. Others are summaries. And even one is a worksheet. It is my humble attempt to synthesize the collective and manifest its wisdom in the form that works best for that collective wisdom.

“The Big Bang of Collective Action” is meant to be read in whatever manner moves you. At the end of this post is a visual table of contents. Click whichever CODE catches your eye or makes you want to click.

And please know, “ The Big Bang of Collective Action” is also a tool. It is meant to be used. So please interact with it by clicking links, leaving a comment, sharing it with a friend, sketching an idea, recording a video response, and/ or writing your own post.



Last October, I facilitated a Video Roundtable as part of The Alliance’s Youth Media Collective Action Initiative. As part of the workshop, I held five minutes of silence for people to explore the prompt, “The origins of the universe…”. I requested people upload their inquiry to Google Drive, and we then chatted about themes and processes.

The conversation focused on the need for quiet and reflection. The majority of participants really appreciated the moment for silence in community with others. It was a new way of using a technology that is meant to be about “seeing another person” and made it about witnessing our selves in relation to other selves. And what would normally be thought of as a moment of disconnection became a moment of still connection.

The material collected also reflected a complex understanding of “the universe”. When taken individually, the responses reveal deep personal truths about creation and values. When layered on top of each other or woven together by words, they reveal the more nuanced experience of the universe and its relationship to “the self”.

Below, in a composition that lays Elisa Barrios’ “Origins of the Universe” mind map over Ariel Taylor’s “You Are the Origin of the Universe”, a more dynamic system begins to emerge, one that connects the cosmic and the physiological. Surrounding both the body and the inner circle is an ecosystem of words / concepts that have relationships / dynamics greater than any singular point of reference.

And below a poem weaves together the written reflections of Bhawain Suchak, Laura Deutch, Dan Reilly, and Christian Rozier into a single moment. The poetic framing device allows the reader to discover their own connections between perspectives. It paints rather than tells, and in the spaces between the stanzas and words deeper truths can be found.

The outputs (the drawing and the poem) are both snapshots of perspectives and a framework for processes that weave the personal to the collective. There is an activity — a moment of silent reflection on a Video Roundtable — and there is a synthesis — using Illustrator to layer images, using poetic form to weave.

This taking in of both “result” and “process” and the singular and collective is what gives one the capacity to more deeply investigate the health of civic life and start creating actions that will have deeper and longer lasting impacts.


Click HERE for “The Big Bang of Collective Action” Table of Contents.