25 January 2012

Tahrir, Revolution, and Design

Stunning photos today of the millions of Egyptians out in the streets to commemorate the start of the revolution a year ago that turned out Mubarak — and to demand transition from military to civilian rule.

A few things have been written on the supporting role of design in the revolution and the urban landscape as both site and medium of protest:

But I think my favorite detail is in this annotated overview of Tahrir square by BBC News.

The authors of direct action (particularly in West Asia and North Africa) are often depicted as a rowdy mob of thugs. But instead of the usual sea of angry Arab men so often shown by the mainstream media, the photo shows a kindergarten set up in the square. Schools in Cairo had been closed during the protests, but many mothers wanted to attend the demonstration as well. So demonstrators organized an impromptu kindergarten.

The image captures the spirit of mutual support that sprang up around the occupation. And my favorite detail: the newsprint under the paintings to keep the square, the city and country they love, free from spills. No random acts of violence here, but using the city to create something new, a different future, with hope and love.

Tahrir Kindergarten