Two weeks ago I found myself at the opening of the new Los Angeles headquarters for the Obama campaign. They had expected a couple hundred supporters to show up and see the office, but nearly 1000 people came so they moved the activities into the parking lot and street. I snuck upstairs and there were already 30 or 40 people crammed into the office, trying to buy buttons and bumper stickers, shirts, yard signs. It was chaotic and exciting and I found myself at one point on the other side of the counter, assembling signs and handing out forms and before I knew it, I was a volunteer by default. This was the day after McCain's announcement of a running mate. I was already an Obama fan before that announcement, thanks to my very thorough and persuasive Obama support group here in WeHo as well as my natural alignment with his platform. After that announcement, though, the race took on a whole new meaning for me and for every woman - no, every person - who believes in equal rights of all sorts, in the importance of things like good education for everyone, and in the core tenets of the American constitution. By this point, everyone knows the appalling statistics, including an anti-choice position so strong that it trumps health, the law, and basic human morality; an anti-education position so strong that no knowledge is preferred over real knowledge which means all our children, not just hers, would suffer the consequences of not knowing the consequences. It is too important to not act, even if the actions are small.
When I left the Obama headquarters I had in my bag a stack of small stickers made from the now famous Shepard Fairey HOPE poster. What I love about Fairey's design is that it is equal parts art and politics and has generated a viral string of creative expressions spawning energy in the grassroots support of the election - not so unlike Rock the Vote linked young musical groups with voter registration. (This LA weekly article does a good job telling the Fairey/Obama/Sergant story.) My goal last week was to hand out those phone-sized stickers, get people to put them on their phones (we all know how many backs of cell phones we see every day!) and talk to everyone I could about the election, voting, and the facts of the platform. Remember that commercial - you'll tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on and so on and so on. For those of you who know someone who is undecided or more shocking yet, not registered to vote, this is the week for the small steps to happen, for those who don't know the candidate's positions on the things they might find to be most important, to go to a website and get as informed as possible, then they can tell two friends, and so on and so on. So, yes, regardless of who you might be for in this campaign (though if you're willing to listen, I can certainly tell you what I think!) the cause of this week is to get everyone registered, get everyone talking, and make your own support VISIBLE.
These are the newly committed phones of my two new friends from Terroni, John and Trusty (photo credits to Whitney and her iphone, also bearing Obama sticker). John is my new favorite bartender, playwright, and actor. His one man show about surfing as a metaphor for love that is also a benefit for cancer might just be coming up as a cause of the week. Trusty is a gang member turned good. Not an ex-gang member, as he was clear to remind us, but a gang member working from the inside to help kids choose school over drugs and violence. He was in our neighborhood serving as a consultant for a new film called Capture. Be on the look out for his name in the credits.
Finally, happy one year anniversary to Islands of LA, founded by my friend and new art school student, Ari. Way to be an activist in your own right, whether you want to be one or not.