Milwaukee, WI: In 2013, the Overpass Light Brigade (OLB) worked hard to shed light on issues ignored by the mainstream media. Along with the other 40 affiliates comprising the nationwide Light Brigade Network, OLB is a vivid example of the power of collective action to drive public debate. A few of our collaborations this past year, highlighted below, exemplify the power of the light brigade as both a tactic and artistic medium.

350.org/No KXL: Alberta Tar Sands Extraction

This past year, OLB collaborated multiple times with groups resisting the exploitation of the Alberta tar sands and fighting to address the climate crisis. In one example, OLB joined forces with 350.org to present an illuminated message as part of the nationwide Draw the Line day of action. We were also proud to stand on stage with Bill McKibben, Michael Brune and Reverend Yearwood at PowerShift - a massive youth activist conference held in Pittsburgh two months ago. In another related action, OLB teamed up with local NO-KXL organizers who are training people to engage in peaceful civil disobedience to stop the Keystone XL pipeline as part of the nationwide Pledge of Resistance.

A Message for I-43 Traffic Out of Downtown Milwaukee 4/2013

Block Keystone XL 3/2013

Draw the Line National Day of Action Against the Keystone XL 9/2013

Idle No More: Penokee Hills Mine, Sand for Hydraulic Fracking, Water Rights

OLB worked closely with activists in the growing Idle No More movement on issues confronting land, water, and Indigenous rights. Related groups organized several events opposing the Penokee Hill iron ore strip mine in northern Wisconsin, sand mining for hydraulic fracking in Western Wisconsin, and the recent creation of a statewide wolf hunt which has animal rights advocates, environmentalists and Native Americans upset due to the indiscriminate brutality of the "kill for sport" mentality. At the heart of much of this work is an evolving concern about water as a necessity for life and spiritual force.

Overpass Light Brigade and Idle No More,  Madison, Wisconsin 1/13/13.

Iron Mine Message in a Snow Storm 2/2013

End The Wolfhunt Message with Idle No More Wisconsin 11/2013

Idle No More,  Madison, Wisconsin 1/13/13.

Idle No More and Overpass Light Brigade, Mining Testimony at the Capitol Madison, Wisconsin 1/23/13.

OLB at Mid-Winter Social Dance at Lac Courte Oreilles Casino Lodge & Convention Center Hayward, Wisconsin  2/16/13.

Indian Summer Festival Pre-Fireworks Messaging 8/2013

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin: Women’s Rights

This year, Governor Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled Wisconsin legislature attacked women’s rights by passing a mandatory ultrasound bill. This regressive legislation forces women to have the invasive procedure before they can have an abortion. It also mandates that doctors providing abortion services have admitting privileges at a hospital, reducing the number of locations where the procedure may be performed and needlessly forcing women to travel great distances to access services. To pressure legislators, the Holders of the Light displayed messages right in front of the Capitol in Madison. OLB also worked with the group Focus on Jobs, Not Vaginas! to take the fight to the National Governors’ Meeting in Milwaukee, which caused quite a stir as the politicians left their posh dinners to network in posh hotels.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin asked OLB to make a short film, titled “Be Visible.” This powerful short was directed by Emmy nominee Brad Lichtenstein, and featured the personal stories of women forced to rely on the vital services of Planned Parenthood in their time of need.

Governor Ultra Probe Message at Wisconsin State Capitol 7/2013

A Message for Visiting Governors at National Governors Conference 6/2013

A Message Against Governor Walker's Mandatory Ultrasound Bill 7/2013

Bringing Be Visible to Audience for Movie Opening 10/2013

Solidarity Sing Along: Freedom of Speech

The Solidarity Sing Along, a daily singing protest at the Wisconsin State Capitol, came under attack this past summer. Scott Walker's appointed palace guards cracked down on the peaceful singers, rewriting a series of administrative rules to force them to get a permit and accept liability for singing in their own statehouse, and then began arresting people for noncompliance. Several OLB messages supported the singers and their fight and we continue to work closely with SSA members and issues.

Capitol Message Against SSA Arrests 8/2013

Band Plays for Message Holders on Wisconsin State Capitol Steps 8/2013

Milwaukee Teachers: Strengthening Public Education

Teachers continue their fight to improve working and learning conditions in the beleaguered and underfunded Milwaukee Public School system. When the School Board refused to negotiate a new contract in our "post Act 10" environment, the educators worked with OLB to deliver messages directly to School Board directors’ homes, and turned out en masse with lighted letters at public School Board meetings.

School Board Director Terry Falk Ponders Teachers' Message 11/2013

Message Is Held Across the Street From School Board Director Claire Zautke's Home 11/2013

Educators Ready to March Message into Full School Board Meeting 11/2013

March Against Monsanto: Food Sovereignty

OLB helped bring visibility to two major March Against Monsanto actions this past year. The international movement is fighting against the food giant’s threats to consumer safety, ecological health, and family farmers’ welfare. OLB worked with the growing Light Brigade Network on coordinated actions around the country. From San Diego to Seattle to NYC, we had messages against Monsanto lighting up the night.

March Against Monsanto 4/2013

March Against Monsanto Corn Field Action 10/2013

Cornfield Message in Support March Against Monsanto Protests 10/2013

2013 was a pivotal year for the Light Brigade Network. We grew to 40 chapters, including ones in Canada and Germany, forged new collaborations, tackled fresh issues, and expanded into new areas and regions. We maintain close collaborations with various "Guerrilla Projection" squads, and continue to build meaningful relationships with local grassroots, labor, social justice and environmental organizations. We have staged three massive photography exhibitions about Light Brigade actions, and a short documentary about the Overpass Light Brigade has been doing well at various film festivals throughout the country. At the dawn of 2014, we are stronger than ever, and ready for another year of bearing witness as Holders of the Lights.

Have a great New Year, everyone - and thank you to the Kos community for your support and continued interest in the Light Brigade movement.

Originally posted to noise of rain on Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 03:22 PM PST.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive and Hellraisers Journal.

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