Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Protester's Guide to Madison: Tips from Bill Schwulst, community organizer

photo: Bill Schwulst (pictured far left), Natasha Salinas

{Today's post is guest blog from my friend, Bill Schwulst, a community organizer and politico who is reporting from the streets (of Madison)}

You say you want to protest? I’ve been in a few over the years, and the gatherings in Madison rival many that have taken place on the national mall in DC over the past few years. I was there last week and have since conjured up a top 5 list of things to make sure you have should you join a protest.

TIME – accounting for travel and a daily life, you want to make sure you take the time to soak it all in. Last Saturday about 1000 anti-labor people got off buses, stayed in Madison for a couple of hours, then left. Were they out-numbered 70-1? Sure. But I feel that they missed the experience of truly being part of something. It’s the difference between driving through a new city and finding great little dinner and chatting with the owner. Talk to people and be part of the experience. Also, local eateries are packed, so be prepared to wait when you order.

LAYERS – I think the anti-union people left because mostly because they were cold (and that was the nicest day to date). Bundle up in layers so you can peel off some during the day or if you’re inside the Capitol, but then you can bundle up again to hear speakers address the crowd outside. If it wasn’t for layers I wouldn’t have endured freezing temperatures and 20 mph winds to sing “We Shall Overcome” with Rev. Jesse Jackson and 20,000 of my newest friends. Also, under this general “warm clothing” topic – galoshes; ladies if you got ‘em and it’s going to be above freezing, I suggest wearing them. You might not think they’re cute, but it was getting sloppy standing and walking where snowbanks used to be. I envied the utility. My salt covered Sketchers and jeans can attest to this.

SMART PHONE – Tougher to come by for some, but definitely useful. You want to capture the Firefighter’s bagpipe led marches, every hilarious home-made sign, text friends to let them know you’re outside the Capitol's State Street entrance, follow the “#wiunion” twitter feed for the latest news, and upload content to Twitpic, YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. Your friends sitting at home want you to do it to! My favorite sign, simply written with a sharpie, “the only Beck I trust has 2 turntables and a microphone.” I rarely used Twitter before Febuary 14th, now I understand why it has played such a big role in revolutions in Iran, Tunisia, and Egypt.

YOUR IDEAS – Depending when you go to the Capitol you want to be prepared to speak to your representatives. During these emotional times they want to hear from you! Make it personal and speak for others who couldn’t make it. Hearing from many of the elected officials I know, the passion you bring sustains them. Also it has been easy to find a picket sign, but if you spend time to make your own people will remember. Minus a major art project you could make a sign with a fat Sharpie and a pizza box. More on that below, but let's just say I've added a little to our state's identity by saying "you know you're from Wisconsin if you've made a protest sign out of a pizza box."

MONEY – If you have someplace to park in Madison and plan to drink and eat only what has been donated, you should be fine. But, better plan for not getting those things for free and bring some form of cash. If you’re anti-union you might want to leave your sign somewhere else or you might not be served presently near the capitol (the Governor was asked to leave the Merchant because other patrons were booing so much). If you have extra money many people have been baking things for protesters, ordering from the Willy Street Co-op, and most famously ordering Ian’s Pizza where orders have been called in from all 50 states and over 50 different by the last count. Check their Facebook page for some pictures of the chalk board where they’re keeping a running tally.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post! Bill is one of our many heroes! Sara is my hero too because she posted Bill's stuff!!!



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