Overpass Light Brigade mixes social media, "physical commitment of real people"
MPS teacher Alissa Gonyea participated in the OLB about 10 times. As a "holder of the light" (what the brigaders sometimes call themselves), Gonyea enjoyed hearing people honk their car horns to "this is what democracy looks like," one of the chants of the Wisconsin Uprising.
"Whether in the freezing cold, rain or windy weather I stood proud, smiled and waved to the cars below. Our audience was travelers and we provided the service of delivering a clear message. Someone voted because they read our message," she says.
Gonyea says she also brought her 15-year-old, Connor, with her on the overpasses so he could experience "true democracy."
"I see each action more like a '60s 'happening.' For the (political) left, they look at us and say 'grit your teeth and do your duty' and the (political) right just thinks we're all paid activists from a union. None of this is correct. I don't think a movement can last without joy and pleasure to it. That's our ethos," says Hall.
Even after the recall election, Hall says the "sociality of it is getting more and more joyful." There are tailgating parties near the bridges with food, at the last "happening" someone ordered pizza delivered to the bridge and other groups have formed their own bridge brigades, like OLB-Dane County.
In efforts to "open-source" the light brigade, Hall has given other groups instructions on how to create the signs and build the necessary social networks around the actions. The recently formed OLB-Fox Valley has a blue fist made out of lights.
The results of the recall election have been "depressing and disappointing" to Hall and other OLB members but, because this is about building a movement more than making endorsements and achieving partisan objectives, Hall says the group persists.
After the election, Hall sent an email to the OLB's listserv members asking if anyone wanted to be taken off this list. He had been working on what he hoped would be a victory message, but on June 6 he found himself working on letters for a new sign all day.
"The overwhelming response from the listserv to 'OLB 2.0' was that 'it's important to keep going.' Over 50 people came out around the new message," says Hall.
That message was "We Shall Overcome," which is the title of a key protest song during the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and '60s.
"This has been about network building and creating a people's bandwidth, where they can get their messages out as a fusion of virtual community and physical commitment of real people," says Hall.
Watch video of the Overpass Light Brigade's latest happening as part of the "Boycott Palermo's" campaign set to "Know Your Rights" by The Clash:
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After this article, I am officially getting one of every type of pizza Palermo's makes when I stop at the store on my way home. That was the point, right?
Get a job is the standard response because if these people are so troubled about the work conditions at Palermos they should start putting their money where their mouth is and start a company. Then they can show all of us actual employers how it's done.
Why is the standard response to protesters "get a job"? Every protester I know has a full-time job, and carves time out of their life to stand up for something they believe in. I guess the founding fathers should have "gotten a job" or used their "spare time" more wisely, rather than fomenting change.
My advice to these people is to, "get a jog Mr. Lebowski". Maybe these people can start some businesses and employ people with all this spare time they seem to have. I was a young CPA at a large firm as Palermos was just getting their start. They are an incredible success story. Interestingly Alterra was getting their start at that time. Another great success story. I bring it up because I would guess their workers on the lowest rung make no more money than a person at a similar job at Palermos. Yet, no protests there. (I'm not saying they should be protested, but this strikes me as selective outrage)
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