SugarPill owner Karyn Schwartz is used to customers coming in and asking for help with depression and anxiety. After Donald Trump won the presidency, she said she realized what she wanted to prescribe were ways to take effective action against intolerance and injustice.
Together with tech neighbor Substantial, a large-scale version of an art installation she’s had in her storefront windows since November will be installed Thursday, and open-source posters, designs and resource information is being made available to anyone wanting to get involved with the Love is Action campaign.
“Democracy really is a participatory sport,” Schwartz said, “and it doesn’t mean just on Election Day.”
A digital product studio that operates above SugarPill, Substantial has collaborated with Schwartz on projects in the past.
Following the shooting massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last June, Substantial assisted Schwartz in putting up the photos of the 49 victims outside SugarPill. One of Substantial’s employees was from Orlando, said Donte Parks, vice president of culture.
“This hit her very hard, and then it was Pride Week, and we started talking about what can we do,” Parks said, “and we talked to Karyn, and she said, ‘Well, we have all these windows.’”
Parks said Substantial has spent the past year looking at being more participatory at a corporate level in supporting the community, and encouraging its employees to do the same.
“After the election, we had a number of people who were kind of curious about what they could do, so we put this meeting together,” he said, “kind of a brainstorming session to figure out what we can do as individuals, as a company.”
Schwartz was invited to attend.
“It was so great,” she said. “They sat around and brainstormed for hours about ways they can get involved.”
Substantial had also created the images Schwartz put up in her store windows after the election; a megaphone with “Speak Up” above it and a rainbow shining down on the word “Protect,” among others. The idea was to start small, and go larger for the inauguration.
“The idea that we’re going to change everything as a company? Yeah, that’s not going to happen,” Parks said, “but what we can do is utilize this very prominent corner we have (at Pine and Broadway).”
Schwartz also spent the holidays — a difficult time for a socially minded business owner, she said — handing out pamphlets with resource information for getting involved in civic action.
What the neighboring businesses came up with was to make the Love is Action design assets available to anyone wanting to respond to social and political issues locally and nationally, through protest, organizing and community support. That can all be found and downloaded at loveisaction.us.
Schwartz said she knows “Love is Action” is not original, but it fits with this campaign.
The designs and resources being made available online are free to use, and there’s no real expectation for how far it will go, Parks said. Some business owners in Capitol Hill are interested in doing something, he said, which could be printing designs on napkins or coasters.
“I’m really curious how it’s going to play out once the word gets out,” Parks said.