ABOUT

(Bomb shelter x "shelltoe" Adidas shoes)

Cultural collisions and community collaborations that
encourage nuanced understanding and responsible stewardship of our nuclear world.

Founded in 2013 after receiving the U.S. State Department Arms Control Verification Award, Bombshelltoe started as an educational website that uses iconic pop-culture references in film and television (Godzilla! The Simpsons! Practically every superhero movie!) to demystify technical concepts used in the nuclear policy field. It has since evolved into in-person and web-based projects featuring nuclear engineers, activists, historians, artists, designers, and other expertise to explore how nuclear issues touch our every day lives and intersect with urgent social issues.

Today, it is known within the nuclear policy field as an experimental playground that brings policy thinkers, creatives, and community advisers together to produce rigorously researched, multi-disciplinary works addressing the threat of nuclear weapons. Going beyond traditional policy reports and expert panels, Bombshelltoe presents arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament topics through creative writing, visual arts, and interactive media. 

In 2020, Bombshelltoe assumed non-profit status and is fiscally sponsored by Fulcrum Arts.

 

Illustration credit: Lovely Umayam (2020), digital collage with creative commons / public domain images

Bombshelltoe is supported by nuclear security grants, art grants, and individual donations. Projects have received funding from:

Beyond Going Viral:
Finding Social Responsibility for the Atom

The word “nuclear” is – for better or for worse – back in vogue.

Over the past several years, news about the successes of North Korean missile testing, the precarious fate of U.S. – Russia arms control agreements, talk about #WWIII between the U.S. and Iran, and anxiety over who has access to the "red button" has elevated nuclear policy into the public consciousness in a way not seen since the Cold War. Given the turn of the tide, academia and civil society are rushing to use this swell of information to make nuclear awareness go "viral."  However, attracting attention is not the same as capturing public imagination.

Grassroots anti-nuclear activism in the United States during the 60s and 70s – marches, teach-ins, and Congressional calls to action – stemmed from a palpable sense of impending destruction unique to that time. But in today’s “post-truth” era, the public is steeped in a relentless information cycle that makes nuclear issues more undecipherable and unrelatable than ever.

The emergence of interactive news platforms offers new and compelling ways for the public to access information about the nuclear field. But even these videos, infographics and blogs assume that the audience has a base understanding and interest in these issues. Topics that are on the forefront of mainstream conversations – from racial equity to climate change to feminism – share a relationship with nuclear concerns too. It takes effort to illustrate these connections and argue why nuclear issues are worth fighting for, whether it be disarmament or safer nuclear technologies.

Bombshelltoe contextualizes and humanizes rigid historical and political information about nuclear issues  in order to make genuine connections with real people – those who will inevitably shoulder the burden and suffer the consequences of  a world that continue to value the existence of nuclear weapons.

How does the threat of nuclear weapons intersect with some of today's urgent issues?

Feminism:

While there are more women working in the nuclear field than ever before, it is still difficult to fully eradicate the deep entanglement between nuclear weapons and the patriarchy, and the problematic gender norms that the field has historically adopted and continue to perpetuate, even subconsciously. Bombshelltoe is committed to practicing feminist foreign policy, as well as rooting out overt and subtle exclusionary practices that discourage, disenfranchise, and devalue women and gender non-conforming individuals who contribute their expertise in the field. It is not just about meeting the quota to achieve inclusion or diversity, but about changing expectations and culture within the workplace and among collaborations.

Anti-Racism:

Through the activism and writings of W.E.B Du Bois, Richard Wright, Malcolm X and the King family, civil rights and nuclear disarmament overlap as essential components of global human rights and peace. Furthermore, the threat of nuclear weapons has always intersected with the fight against racism and colonialism, since the production and maintenance of nuclear weapons has historically harmed and exploited black and brown bodies. Bombshelltoe is committed to an anti-racist approach in nuclear policy, beginning with full recognition of the harm done to people of color, and passing the mic to BIPOC experts who are best positioned to talk about the intersection of racism and nuclear politics.

Climate Change:

Rising sea levels are driving out Bikini Atoll islanders – the same people who were once displaced by U.S. nuclear tests. And there are many more groups around the world who are burdened by the lion's share of consequences inflicted by nuclear weapons and environmental injustice. Bombshelltoe is committed to reaching out and learning from frontline communities who suffer from the twin calamities of nuclear weapons legacy and climate change in order to find genuinely sustainable ways to protect the planet. Bombshelltoe does not believe in an "either/or" scenario between these two issues; they *both* must be addressed head-on in order to avoid apocalypse.

Growth as a Collective

In 2017, Bombshelltoe began developing projects with collaborators from the nuclear policy, science, grassroots, and artistic fields. These projects often begin as a seed of curiosity: what if we tried to understand the history and impact of nuclear weapons from a different angle using a creative medium?

Project arrangements are flexible and depend on the objectives and the group’s expected level of effort / time-commitment. Sometimes a project calls for short consultancies / commissions, while others entail multi-year effort with equal ownership to the creative output. Some projects are super experimental and  pursued on a one-time, volunteer basis or self-funded by Bombshelltoe, while others are fully-matured to require funding (note: Bombshelltoe will always work with collaborators on finding financial or in-kind support for labor and supplies). Different projects can flourish within the collective, but they all have one thing in common: projects  are designed to follow a transmedia model, which allows the project narrative to manifest in various forms and reach different target audiences, ideally engaging people who do not know much about nuclear policy, as well as experts who are already knee-deep in the scholarship or policy-making. In other words, an existing project can continue to evolve in multiple forms, with new collaborators adding new types of art pieces or research.

As such, Bombshelltoe projects are not just about the end-product, but the process itself — fostering a positive co-existence where different types of expertise can mingle, respect, and learn from one another, with the unified goal of elevating the human understanding of our nuclear world.

For inquiries or to discuss a specific idea, get in touch with Lovely directly:
lovely[at]bombshelltoe.com 

CURRENT / PAST COLLABORATORS

Adriel Luis 
Community Advisor / Creative Advisor / Producer

Sunny Dooley 
Cultural Advisor / Producer

Carmille Garcia 
Photographer

Kayla Briët 
Director

Jessica Wagner
Technical Advisor

Karen Hogue
Technical Advisor

Tubik Studios 
Web Designer

Tammy Nguyen 
Bookmaker (Passenger Pigeon Press)
Co-creator - The Color Curtain Project

Christian Ciobanu 
Nuclear Disarmament Advocacy

Danielle Samler
Nuclear Disarmament Advocacy

Foreign National 
Co-creator - The Color Curtain Project

Combing Cotton Co. 
Co-creator - The Color Curtain Project

Erica Shimizu-Banks 
Co-creator - The Color Curtain Project

 

FELLOWS
[COMING SOON]

"Bombshelltoe aims to incite curiosity and foster empathy, so that nuclear issues are perceived with universal understanding and collective responsibility."

  • Lovely Umayam (Founder)