"Art should comfort the disturbed
and disturb the comfortable."
-Cesar A. Cruz,
Violence Prevention Advocate
Decibel Audio Visual's founder, Abigail Graham, is affiliated with many grassroots organizations, including KOWA 106.5 FM Community Powered Radio, Media Island International (a resource center for community activists), the Backbone Campaign’s “Elephant in the Room” demonstration, and the Washington State Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing’s summer camps, meetings and conferences, Green Peace’s kayak-activist training, Food Not Bombs, and Women of Color Speak Out, which educates the public on racial justice & intersectionality. Abigail also served on the 2017 Women’s March on Washington State finance and insurance committee, organized marches in Seattle, Spokane, Olympia and Bellingham.
"We all have our purpose,
we all have our strengths."
Shortly after receiving my degree in event management, I began looking for a way to combine my education, my technical skills in event management, and my passion for activism. I began working with The Backbone Campaign, a progressive movement-building organization that provides creative strategy consulting, tactical training, and delivers direct action events with the ultimate goal of empowering “We the People. oThe goal is to make the act of protest bold, fun, visible, and effective, as well as offering solutionary strategies that help build the world we want. In 2016, Abigail Graham, Decibel Audio Visual had the unique opportunity to work on a demonstration for Black Lives Matter sponsored by the Backbone Campaign who hosts a resilience organizing camp on Vashon Island, WA.
For one week around 50 activists gathered from all over the Nation on Vashon Island. We camped, we cried and we learned. Through collective decision making in one week we managed to plan and execute a full-scale demonstration at Westlake Center in Seattle, Washington. We called this demonstration the Elephant in the Room #BeyondDenial.
Whilst camping in tents on Vashon Island we formed work committees; one focused on the security, legality and safety for our demonstration. Coming from Vashon Island it was essential that we had a wrap up and evacuation plan. The signage committee was responsible for the Elephant prop and all other artistic aspects in the demo including a vigil to hate-crime victims and a large comic graphic designed to spread awareness about the prison-industrial complex. The education committee was asked to focus on the overall consistency in the BLM message, working alongside our marketing committee to promote the demo through social media.
BLM Demonstration Sponsored By the Backbone Campaign June 2016.
Planning a nuanced, provocative, and safe demonstration collaboratively was no easy task. One of the most difficult aspects of any activism is creating shared understanding within the group. With our personal backgrounds coming from all over the world it was at first VERY difficult to find a middle ground on the message for the Elephant in the Room action plan. This is where I was able to shine and what ultimately gave the inspiration to found Decibel Audio Visual. I facilitated a workshop on ‘Freshwater Privilege’, which aimed to tackle the group’s struggle with the concept of white privilege. After active participation in the Fresh Water Privilege workshop, something clicked for our team. By the end of the week we as a collective found privilege to be multifaceted.
Then we were able to collectively approve the distribution of an educational document: Beyond Denial, based on Peggy McIntosh's document Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. We managed to hand distribute over 500 copies of Beyond Denial at the demo and more importantly we were able to start conversations with people about the Elephant in the Room: Racism. Our task was that each person we encountered in Westlake Center that day talk about the Elephant in the Room and make at least one commitment to ending racism.