Superheroes for Public Policy

Ms. K Bradford hosts the Superheroes to the Rescue! Sanctuary State event where students gather and discuss immigration policies at the Clock Tower Quad at Santa Monica College in Santa Monica. Calif. on Thurs. May 11, 2017. (Clyde Bates Jr.)

On May 11, members of SMC’s Public Policy Institute took students on a brief journey of self-discovery by the Clock Tower Quad. One of the final acts in their weeklong series of Symposium events, dozens of students were engaged in an impromptu social experiment designed to open their minds to public policy in California and show them how they too can be “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

As the crowd gathered around 11 a.m., a mysterious voice instructed them to “review their Passportal documents,” so they could enter the “United Space of California.” Clearly, an intergalactic allegory for our own state of California, this fictitious space was even referred to as a “Sanctuary Galaxy.”

With that, a team of space traveling “superheroes” emerged from behind the clock tower and introduced themselves. Clad in shiny space-age costumes, the heroes invited everyone to “cross the border” and form two circles, so that each student could face another. Participants were then given note cards with various questions written on each — including, but not limited to “What would you assume just by looking at me?” and “How do you want your allies to stand up for you?”

One attendee, Daniel Guzman was pleasantly surprised with this circular “time travel” exercise. “There really, really was no other reason for me to come out here except for the extra credit opportunity I was given by my professor,” he said.

Though Guzman came to the “United Space of California” to fulfill an extra credit opportunity, he was moved by connections he made with fellow students. “There was one question in particular, now that I actually showed up, that had kind of an impact on me. It was really cool when they told us to ask the person across from us ‘what would you assume about somebody by looking at them?’ And that was kind of a big deal when it came to the person who asked me,” Guzman told us.

Like every Symposium event last week, Thursday’s activities intended to tackle the rising issue of “post-truth” and the national debate over immigrant-friendly “sanctuary cities.” K Bradford, who hosted the event as “Cosmo,” told us “this time we were using imaginative, poetic thinking to think about these issues."

Within her past three semesters at the Public Policy Institute, Bradford worked with several different communities and “started a program that is centered around public art and social justice where [she] take the problems of our times, and we work with the materials of those problems, and we turn them into solutions by creating a collaborative public art piece.”

With a larger-than-expected turnout, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” event signaled a successful conclusion to the Public Policy Institute’s week of political advocacy. Rather than another film screening or public lecture, the institute went out with a bang, treating SMC with a large-scale piece of performance art.