Nikolas Schiller
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Nikolas Schiller

Nikolas Schiller
Nikolas Schiller

(1980-10-10)October 10, 1980
Known forAerial Photography, Digital Art, Cartography
MovementGeospatial Art

Nikolas Schiller (born October 10, 1980) is an American blogger, a prominent digital map artist in the blogosphere, a vegetarian,[1]Burner,[2] and a drug policy reform activist who lives in Washington, DC. He is primarily known for developing Geospatial Art,[3] which is the name he gave to his collection of abstract fantasy maps created from kaleidoscopic aerial photographs, and co-founding DCMJ, where he helped write Initiative 71,[4] which legalized the cultivation and possession of small amounts of cannabis in the nation's capital.


He was born in Saint Louis, Missouri.[5] In 1999 he moved to Washington, D.C. to study geography and computer science at the George Washington University. In 2004 he created a blog called The Daily Render and unlike many people at the time, chose to prevent search engines from accessing the content.[5] Over the next 1000 days he developed and published a unique type of map composed of kaleidescopic aerial photographs.[3] In the lead up to the second inauguration of George W. Bush, he developed one of the first on-line maps of the planned events to use aerial photography.[5] In May 2007 he created a site for image macros of his maps in the vein of the popular LOLcats meme[6] with his website LOLMaps. During the summer of 2007 he created website showing a simulated I.E.D. experience using a "drive" down a street constructed with Google Streetview.[7] At that time he also discovered that the aerial and satellite imagery of downtown Washington, D.C. was purposely out-dated for national security concerns.[8] In the fall of 2007 he designed the record cover for Thievery Corporation's 12" single Supreme Illusion (ESL110),[9] which features aerial photography of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In March 2008 he removed the robots exclusion protocols from his blog, which now allows his website to be accessed from all major search engines. In July 2008 he was assaulted on his doorstep by three men, but survived with only a bloody lip.[10] As a blogger, he has worked with writers at Wonkette[11] and the Huffington Post.[12][13] He currently resides in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC.

DC Marijuana Justice

A canvasser for the DC Cannabis Campaign soliciting signatures for Initiative 71

In February 2013, he along with Adam Eidinger and Alan Amsterdam, co-founded DC Marijuana Justice, colloquially known as DCMJ. Starting with a poll that showed voters in the District of Columbia overwhelmingly supported the reform of cannabis laws,[14] the organization submitted their first draft to the District of Columbia Board of Elections. Due to the prohibition of the ballot initiatives from being able to appropriate funds to implement the proposed legislation, the first draft was withdrawn.[15] The second version, which became Initiative 71, was submitted by Adam Eidinger to the DC Board of Elections in early 2014. Schiller served as the campaign's Director of Communications.[16]

After the ballot initiative became law, Republican members of Congress proceeded to add budgetary riders to the District of Columbia's federal budget in order to prevent the Government of the District of Columbia from passing further drug policy reforms. He and members of the campaign dressed up in colonial costumes and protested in Congressional offices to show their displeasure towards the Congressional interference.[17] The following week he helped organize DCMJ's "Spring Seed Share[18] ," which the Washington Post called "the nation's biggest legal marijuana giveaway."[19]

Beginning in 2016 his work with DCMJ focused on advocacy related to the removal cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. DCMJ organized an extremely popular[20]smoke-in outside the White House,[21] which resulted in a meeting with White House staff.[22] Later that year he helped bring two 51' foot long inflatable joints to the Democratic National Convention to "make sure all candidates are for full legalization of cannabis."[23]

After the election of Donald Trump, in early 2017 DCMJ announced that it was going to distribute 4,200 joints at the inauguration in order to highlight that cannabis reform is a non-partisan issue.[24] Calling it #Trump420,[25] over 5,500 joints were rolled prior to the inauguration.[26] By January 20, 2017, over 8,000 joints had been rolled [27] and it is estimated over 10,000 people queued up in a line that stretched at least 6 blocks.[]

After not receiving any word that the president was going to move forward cannabis reform, he helped organize another joint giveaway near the U.S. Capitol, which ultimately resulted in numerous arrests.[28][29] The following day 6 of the activists had their charges dropped,[30] which allowed DCMJ to come back to the Capitol four days later for a second smoke-in.[31] The smoke-in was broadcast live on Fox News Facebook Page[32] and ultimately resulted in 4 arrests.[33]

In October 2017, DCMJ began their campaign to raise awareness that individuals living in government subsidized housing risk eviction if they are found to have cannabis in their homes.[34] This issue was brought to the attention Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who in 2018 introduced the 'Sondra Battle Cannabis Fair Use Act,'[35] which became officially known as H.R.6152, "Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act of 2018." This legislation was reintroduced in the 116th Congress as H.R.2338.


Since the beginning of 2004 he has been involved with the DC statehood movement. He was served on the steering committee of the DC Statehood Green Party from 2005 to 2007 and was a delegate to the Green Party of the United States from 2006 to 2007. He has been a vocal critic of DC voting rights legislation that would give residents of the District of Columbia only one vote in the United States House of Representatives.[36] He has created a DC Flag [37] and a DC license plate to express the concept of taxation with one-third representation. He has been known to attend voting rights demonstrations[38] wearing colonial outfits[5][39] to emphasize the fact that District resident are colonists who suffer from Taxation Without Representation.

In February 2009, under the motto "The United States government operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so should Metro," he created a Facebook Group called "Washington Metropolitan Area Residents for a 24 Hour Metro" to help lobby for expanded operating hours.[40]

In July 2009 he put up a sign on a street lamp outside of MTV's The Real World house in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC that said IN THE REAL WORLD ALL AMERICANS DESERVE FULL REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS.[41] In November 2009, while dressed in colonial attire, he was asked to take off his tricorn hat during a Congressional hearing on budget autonomy for the District of Columbia and was briefly detained by the U.S. Capitol Police, but was allowed to return to the hearing after promising to not put the hat back on.[42][43] As an antiwar activist, he once arranged bricks on the rooftop of his home to spell out NO WAR[44] so that his message would show up on Google Maps.

In January 2010, he co-founded a non-profit organization called the DC Patients' Cooperative, which he hoped would become a licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the District of Columbia.[45] In May 2010, after the Council of the District of Columbia passed legislation to regulate the medical cannabis program, he went on record advocating for more employment protections for qualified patients.[46] In February 2011, he helped organize a town hall meeting to educate the public on the medical cannabis program's regulations.[47][48] On the one year anniversary of Congress approving the legislation, he helped organize a press conference to call on the District of Columbia government to fully implement the program, allow patients to grow their own medicine, and to establish an affirmative defense for patients.[49] Due to the "glacial pace"[50] and a requirement to sign a legal waiver concerning federal prosecution for participation in the program, he said that the organization is taking a "wait and see" approach instead of applying for a license.[51]

On February 21, 2012, a photo of him in colonial attire appeared in Washington Post columnist Vivek Wadhwa's article America, keep rewarding your dissidents[52]

In the summer of 2013 Schiller began driving an art car around Washington, DC with a sculpture of a genetically modified apple attached to the roof in order to protest the U.S. government's policies on the labeling of genetically modified foods.[53] Named Goldie,[54] the Ford Escort was a part of a fleet of art cars that featured sculptures of a corn cob, soybean, sugar beet, and tomato[55] that were designed to appear cross-bred with a fish to humorously convey the message that unlabeled genetically engineered food was fishy. In August 2013 he drove the car across the United States from Washington, DC to Washington state in order to promote the passage of Ballot Initiative 522.[56]

In 2020, he served as the field director for Initiative 81, a Washington, DC ballot initiative that will make some plant medicines the lowest law enforcement priority. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the campaign was forced to suspend its operations in the spring.[57] After the Council of the District of Columbia passed legislation allowing the District of Columbia Board of Elections to change ballot access rules, the campaign was able to successfully mail over 200,000 petitions to District of Columbia voters and hire over 150 petition circulators to collect signatures from registered voters outside grocery stores using social distancing in order to successfully qualify for the general election ballot. [58]

Selected works


  1. ^ Tommy Nguyen (July 4, 2004). "Red, White and Golden Arches: The Star-Spangled Banner Ad". News. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009.
  2. ^ Mike Higdon (August 30, 2018). "Group baths at Burning Man: Dirty burners line up at Dr. Bronner's soap-funded camp". News. The Reno Gazette Journal. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Teresa Méndez (December 14, 2007). "The art of Map Fest". News. Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2007.
  4. ^ Adam Eidinger Nikolas Schiller (January 11, 2016). "The D.C. Council's marijuana club ban inadvertently creates the 'smokeasy'". Opinion. Washington Post. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d David Montgomery (March 14, 2007). "Here Be Dragons". News. Washington Post. Retrieved 2007.
  6. ^ a b Scott Beale (May 30, 2007). "LOL Not Just For Cats Anymore". News. Laughing Squid. Retrieved 2008.
  7. ^ Nikolas Schiller. "Google StreetView I.E.D." Retrieved 2009.
  8. ^ Jenna Johnson (July 22, 2007). "Google's View of D.C. Melds New and Sharp, Old and Fuzzy". News. Washington Post. Retrieved 2007.
  9. ^ a b Thievery Corporation (October 11, 2007). "Discogs: Thievery Corporation - Supreme Illusion ESL110". Album Cover. ESL Music. Retrieved 2007.
  10. ^ Angela Valdez (July 25, 2008). "Our Morning Roundup". News. Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2009.
  11. ^ Jim Newell (January 14, 2009). "Come To Wonkette's Patriotic Inaugural Ball This Friday!". Blog. Wonkette. Retrieved 2009.
  12. ^ Jason Linkins (January 14, 2009). "Vlogorrhea, With Jason And Liz: Foreign Correspondents". Blog. Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009.
  13. ^ Jason Linkins (January 14, 2009). "Previously, On The 2008 Election". Blog. Huffington Post. Retrieved 2008.
  14. ^ Mike DeBonis (April 17, 2013). "Marijuana policy groups kick off D.C. legalization campaign with poll". News. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020.
  15. ^ Mike DeBonis (September 4, 2013). "Proposed DC Marijuana Initiative To Be Reworked To Address AG's Objections". News. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020.
  16. ^ Andrew Giambrone (December 1, 2014). "Will Congress Let D.C. Legalize Pot?". News. The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020.
  17. ^ Perry Stein (March 17, 2015). "D.C. marijuana activists storm Capitol Hill with a pot pipe and colonial costumes". News. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020.
  18. ^ Matt Cohen (March 12, 2015). "Cannabis Campaign To Host Marijuana Seed Exchange". News. DCist. Retrieved 2020.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Aaron C. Davis and Perry Stein (March 26, 2015). "D.C. hosts nation's biggest legal marijuana giveaway". News. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020.
  20. ^ Now This Weed (April 4, 2016). "Hundreds of people got high in front of The White House to protest the federal government's policies on weed". Viral Video. Now This Weed. Retrieved 2020.
  21. ^ Aaron C. Davis (March 30, 2016). "Marijuana advocates vow to get arrested smoking pot outside the White House". News. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020.
  22. ^ Joel Warner (April 20, 2016). "After Years Of Petitions And Protests, Marijuana Group DCMJ Says It's Meeting With Obama Staffers At The White House". News. International Business Times. Retrieved 2020.
  23. ^ Hayden Mitman (July 25, 2016). "Giant marijuana joints, Sanders supporters among Broad Street marchers on DNC Day 1". News. Philly Voice. Retrieved 2020.
  24. ^ Kimberly Richards (January 4, 2017). "Cannabis activists to hand out thousands of free joints at Donald Trump's inauguration". News. The Independent. Retrieved 2020.
  25. ^ Alexandra Genova (January 20, 2017). "Inside the #Trump420 Movement". News. Time. Retrieved 2020.
  26. ^ Charlotte Alter (January 18, 2017). "D.C. Weed Group Has Rolled 5,500 Free Joints for the Inauguration". News. Time. Retrieved 2020.
  27. ^ Jonah Engel Bromwich (January 18, 2017). "Marijuana Group Passes Out Free Joints for Trump's Inauguration". News. New York Times. Retrieved 2020.
  28. ^ Eli Watkins (April 20, 2017). "DC pot activists arrested at 4/20 Capitol Hill protest". News. CNN. Retrieved 2020.
  29. ^ Martin Austermuhle (April 20, 2017). "Seven People Arrested At Marijuana Giveaway Near U.S. Capitol". News. WAMU. Retrieved 2020.
  30. ^ Justin Wm. Moyer and Keith L. Alexander (April 21, 2017). "Six of eight won't face charges after giving away joints near U.S. Capitol". News. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020.
  31. ^ Ryan Reed (April 24, 2017). "Marijuana Activists Plot 'Smoke-In' Following Capitol Hill Arrests". News. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020.
  32. ^ Staff (April 24, 2017). "Happening Now". News. Fox News. Retrieved 2020.
  33. ^ NBC Washington (April 24, 2017). "Four Arrested at Pot 'Smoke-in' on U.S. Capitol Grounds". News. NBC Washington. Retrieved 2020.
  34. ^ Rachel Sadon (October 31, 2017). "Marijuana Activists Are Handing Out Weed Outside HUD HQ Today". News. DCist. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  35. ^ Staff (June 19, 2018). "Norton Introduces Bill to Permit Marijuana Use in Public Housing". Press Release. DCist. Retrieved 2020.
  36. ^ Adrienne Washington (December 4, 2006). "Third of representation a start, but not enough". News. Washington Times. Retrieved 2009.
  37. ^ Martin Austermuhle (March 14, 2007). "Fight for Voting Rights Goes Online". Blog. Archived from the original on February 18, 2010. Retrieved 2009.
  38. ^ Bill Clark (April 18, 2007). "Roll Call Photo of the Week". News. Roll Call. Archived from the original on February 1, 2013. Retrieved 2008.
  39. ^ Mary Beth Sheridan (January 28, 2007). "Hoyer Says He Will Soon Bring Bill to House Floor". News. Washington Post. Retrieved 2008.
  40. ^ Kytja Weir (January 5, 2011). "A 24-hour Metro? For one rider, the train is always half full". News. Examiner. Retrieved 2011.[permanent dead link]
  41. ^ Dan Zak (August 16, 2009). "The Real World in D.C.: When MTV Moves In, So Does Drama". News. Washington Post. Retrieved 2009.
  42. ^ Amy Argetsinger & Roxanne Roberts (November 19, 2009). "Tricorn trouble for D.C. voting rights protester". News. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009.
  43. ^ Megan Hughes (November 18, 2009). "D.C. Leader Press Congress For More Autonomy". News. WAMU 88.5 American University Radio. Archived from the original (radio) on November 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  44. ^ Harmon, Katherine (September 23, 2009). The Map As Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography. Princeton Architectural Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-56898-762-0.
  45. ^ Drug War Chronicle (April 23, 2010). "Feature: Mixed Reactions to DC City Council's Medical Marijuana Regulations". News. Drug War Chronicle. Retrieved 2010.
  46. ^ Ashley Southall (May 5, 2010). "Washington, D.C., Approves Medical Use of Marijuana". News. New York Times. Retrieved 2010.
  47. ^ Audrey Barnes (February 10, 2011). "Town Hall Meeting Held To Explain Rules and Regulations of DC's Medical Marijuana Program". News. MyFoxDC. Retrieved 2011.
  48. ^ Mike Conneen (February 10, 2011). "Advocates push for medical marijuana law to go into effect". News. TBD. Retrieved 2011.
  49. ^ Thomas Howell Jr. (July 26, 2011). "D.C. medical marijuana backers still waiting". News. Washington Times. Retrieved 2011.
  50. ^ Victor Zapana (July 29, 2011). "Official: Medical marijuana in D.C. by May 2012". News. Washington Post. Retrieved 2011.
  51. ^ Thomas Howell Jr. (October 10, 2011). "Medical marijuana applicants facing D.C. deadline". News. Washington Times. Retrieved 2011.
  52. ^ Vivek Wadhwa (February 10, 2011). "America, keep rewarding your dissidents". News. Washington Post. Retrieved 2012.
  53. ^ Robert Samuels (June 13, 2013). "Something fishy in D.C.: Cartop protest art, minus the protest, becomes a spectacle". News. Washington Post. Retrieved 2013.
  54. ^ Amanda Peterka (August 1, 2013). "'Fishy food' cars attract stares, promote GMO labeling". News. Greenwire. Retrieved 2013.
  55. ^ Arin Greenwood (July 31, 2013). "Fishy Art Cars Bring Anti-GMO Message On Cross-Country Demonstration, From Washington, D.C., To Washington State". News. Huffington Post. Retrieved 2013.
  56. ^ Matthew Piper (August 13, 2013). "Cross-country drive aims to show there's something 'fishy' about GMOs". News. Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2013.
  57. ^ A.J. Herrington (March 16, 2020). "Coronavirus Delays D.C. Shroom Decriminalization Bid". News. High Times. Retrieved 2020.
  58. ^ Justin Wm. Moyer (August 5, 2020). "D.C. residents to vote on decriminalization of 'magic mushrooms' on November ballot". News. Washington Post. Retrieved 2020.
  59. ^ Ali, Kazim (September 1, 2009). Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 978-0-8195-6916-5.
  60. ^ Benton-Short, Lisa; Rennie Short, John (December 6, 2007). Cities and Nature. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-35589-6.
  61. ^ Thompson, Nato (January 28, 2009). Experimental Geography: Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism. Coauthors: Independent Curators International. Melville House Publishing. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-09-163658-6.
  62. ^ Association of American Geographers (June 22, 2007). "Geography & the Humanities Symposium program" (PDF). Program. Association of American Geographers. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 19, 2010. Retrieved 2008.
  63. ^ Michael Dear; Jim Ketchum; Sarah Luria; Doug Richardson (May 26, 2011). GeoHumanities: Art, History, Text at the Edge of Place. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415589802.

External links

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