I am a prof at the University of Washington in Seattle. With a group of students, we have been writing a blog with the Seattle Times, titled UW Election Eye, on national politics for the last six months. Our goal is to tell personal, real stories.
Eight students and I are spending two weeks in Wisconsin finding and writing stories about the recall election.
Last weekend we hung out with the Overpass Light Brigade. You know them well here at DKos, I know. A number of them -- BatmanWI and Minvis for sure, are members of this community. They just had a rec'd diary yesterday. They're a generous people, and they gave us plenty of their time.
Three students in our team have put together a terrific post -- found right here-- that captures the OLB from an outsider's perspective. You may know everything in it, but we saw it from fresh eyes. I'd love to see this democratic form of engagement come to Seattle.
Some excerpts below the fold.
It was last Saturday night and the OLB was out. Here's our lede:
MILWAUKEE – Forty people stood on the Interstate 43 pedestrian overpass in the northern part of this city, clutching three-foot tall, wooden signs dotted with Christmas light lettering. In the receding daylight, all that could be seen was their message. That was the goal.And another bit from later:
“Vote Barrett June 5″ spelled out the lighted letters. And then in smaller letters a few feet away: “Recall.”
Self-dubbed the Overpass Light Brigade, these protestors, co-founded by Milwaukee couple Lane Hall and Lisa Moline, were registering their positions for the state’s upcoming vote on whether to recall Governor Scott Walker and replace him with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Among the crew that night of May 26 were Greg Davis and his 14-year-old son Ben. Ben held a “B” while his father held an “R.”
“We’re just regular folks,” Davis said. “Not the people you’d see protesting at anything and everything.”
After those first few sessions the protestors learned that under a Wisconsin state statute, legally they cannot affix any signs to freeway overpasses that are considered government property. Instead, individuals must hold each sign. Thus was born the need for volunteers.There are pics at our site. Thanks OLB for letting us into your world. Peace.
“In a way, that was a real boom for us,” co-founder Lane Hall said. “We had invented this clever, democratic way to to get our message out to the highway — once we had to have a person hold every sign, it moved into kind of a testimonial or a witness of the community, and that was really powerful.”
The activity is spreading. Other OLB branches have been formed in smaller towns around Wisconsin, and there is now one in Pennsylvania. Several people in the Milwaukee team drive hours to join the protests each event.
This past Saturday evening, other OLB protestors who did not have a sign to hold propped up a flag, or waved in a pageant-like manner to the traffic down below.
“It’s really grown,” Brusky said. “We’ve developed this wonderful community of people, many who have been active in the recall, it’s just been great.”
Cars and trucks passing on the freeway below the protestors, on May 26, 2012. Those in agreement honk their horns. (Photo by Lucas Anderson/UW Election Eye)
On Saturday, several participants were “brigading” for the first time. Some traveled hours to participate. The group protests two or three times a week on varying overpasses around the state, with their messages tailored typically for each evening.
“It’s uplifting to come out here after seeing the polls and reading the news,” participant Laurie Daft said.