Main Sections

Section 3-4

Example: See You in the Streets!

See You in the Streets! Art, Action, and Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, by Ruth Sergel (University of Iowa Press).

“It all began modestly in 2004 with Chalk, an invitation to all New Yorkers to remember the 146 victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire by inscribing their names and ages in chalk in front of their former homes. This project inspired Sergel to found the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, a broad alliance of artists and activists, universities and unions—more than 250 partners nationwide—to mark the 2011 centennial of the infamous blaze. This book provides a lively account of the unexpected partnerships, false steps, joyous collective actions, and sustainability of such large public works.”



Sergel drew together more than 250 organizations from across the United States to mark the 2011 centennial of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Managing this broad coalition while attending to all voices was central to its success.


Through the book, Sergel offers insights into coalition politics, egalitarian leadership, social art practice, and valuing one’s labor. The commemoration of the fire in both its content and collaborative structure was intended to model labor politics aimed at empowering workers and improving the conditions in which they labor.


While Sergel authored the book alone–and learning to step up to her key role as a leader is one of the lessons she learned–she also invited several participants to submit “postcards” discussing their roles and perspectives on the coalition and the fire, as well as labor conditions today. These brief contributions diversify the voices and express the necessity of grassroots democracy in worker movements. Many participants also provided images of artifacts owned by survivors or moments in the 2011 commemoration.

This OER was supported by a grant from the Scholarly Communication Notebook.

Last updated 2023-04-21.