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The Overpass Light Brigade hosted a wonderful punk-polka singalong in Milwaukee last Friday evening. It was well documented by Rule of Law in his diary yesterday. You can read about radical polka and its role in community creation at this link. In between the Solidarity Sing Along, who drove the 90 miles from Madison in a pretty good snowstorm, and The Squeezettes, a legendary local band who offered to help us with this fundraiser, I gave the first "State of the Overpass" address. It is below, with a video archive below that.

My intention here is not to aggrandize, but to create an empowering document that itemizes the growth of what was a very simple idea. The Kos community has been instrumental in our development, from the well-wishes and support during the first dark days of being attacked on bridges to the thoughtful comments and recommendations on almost every diary we have put forward. This is worth mentioning as we often hear diminishment of the power of virtual community formation as mere "clicktivism" and armchair radical nostalgia. I see this site, and other social media portals, as elemental in building synergistic connections across multiple bandwidths that bridge communities as we seek to build meaningful movements.

Filming the Holders at Capitol

The State of the Overpass Address

Noise of Rain
Jan 24, 2014

We're into our third year of the Overpass Light Brigade, and it has grown in amazing ways. I just went through every action that we've done - every month on the Facebook timeline, and it amazes me how much we have accomplished and how active we have been!  

From The People United to Nuns On the Bus, the encampment of outsourced workers in Bainport, IL, marching in the financial district in Chicago with Occupy, from getting the bums rush at the Walmart Supercenter in Kenosha for the big national walkout, to standing with Bill McKibben in Madison and more recently at the amazing PowerShift conference in Pittsburgh where an OLB video and message was presented to a group of 4,000 young activists. From Madison's beltline with CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE, to holding THE VAGINA DEMAGOGUES at the capitol after draconian rulings against women's rights; We've wept at vigils and kept awake for all-night film shoots, and our archive is like a timeline of topical concerns that are vexing and dividing our country, shaping who we are as a nation in what at times seems a dire struggle for definition, representation, human rights and environmental sanity.

I counted every action. We've done 181 of them from kicking off the recall of Scott Walker on November 15, 2011 to current collaborations with the Light Brigade Network focussed on questioning the powers of the NSA or trying to stop the TPP. We've made 181 trips to countless bridges and overpasses throughout the state. We've stood in blizzards at the State Capitol to protest the mining of the pristine forests of the northwoods and have been serenaded with supportive and angry honks from the cars passing below our feet. We intimately know our overpasses!

And I inventoried the groups we have directly collaborated with in the two plus years of our operations. This is pretty astounding!

United Wisconsin
Voces de la Frontera
Nuns On the Bus
Sierra Club
WAVE (Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort)
Idle No More
Move to Amend
Grassroots Tosa
WI Jobs Now
Solidarity Sing Along
Sikh Temple Community
Peace Action Wisconsin
Progressive Democrats of America
Planned Parenthood
Veterans for Peace
Youth Empowered in the Struggle
Occupy Chicago
Occupy Rogers Park
Shine Guerrilla Projection Squad
The Illuminator
Code Pink
Making Change At Walmart
United For Respect

We've remediated our peaceful actions and playful tactics through conference presentations, lectures, art exhibitions, billboards and of course, the wonderful documentary short film which has had its own success in multiple film festivals around the country.

And having open-sourced the basic simple idea from the very beginning, we now work with almost 40 Light Brigade chapters, that comprise the Light Brigade Network. There are 4 in CA, 2 in CO, 4 in FL, 1 in GA, 2 in HI, 2 in IL, 1 in ME, 1 in MA, 1 in MD, 2 in MI, 1 in MN which is focused on Indigenous Rights, 2 in NY, 3 in OR, 3 in TX, 1 in UT, 1 in WA which is connected with the excellent Backbone Campaign, 4 in WI, 1 in CANADA and 1 in Germany.  

This seems to grow monthly, and offers a lot of organizational and creative possibilities. We will never have the resources of the Koch Brothers or the Bradley Foundation, but they will never understand or duplicate our ethos of community and creativity.

We've tried to use a very integrative approach to media, and continue to create documentation of events in the form of pictures, captions, blog posts and videos that hit various bandwidths of Facebook, which is getting more and more limiting, though at times we have had over 1 million in weekly reach and have generally averaged between 15,000 and 250,000 views of our content per week. Our LightBrigading Flickr site has only been online since May 2013 and in that time has had 453,791 total views. Twitter at OLBLightBrigade has 1,629 followers, among them Daryl Hannah, all major Occupy Wall Street accounts, the CEO of US GreenPeace, the Badass Teacher's Association, Fight for 15, idle No More, Global Revolution, Tar Sands Blockade, among many others… We continue to write blog posts for both Occupy Riverwest and Daily Kos and these at times get impressive traffic.

We're interested in trying to utilize VINE, Tumblr and Instagram, but there is only so much we can do and remain sane.

So, that is the State of the Overpass! While we might not be job creators, we are community creators, and in these times, I'll take that as an honorable and worthy task. We'll continue to try to build this as we understand we are a small but visible eddy in a much larger flow.

Forever Forward!



State of the Overpass 2014 from Occupy Riverwest on Vimeo.

Originally posted to noise of rain on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 01:47 PM PST.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive, Rebel Songwriters, and Protest Music.

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