for Prop 8 Supreme Court Hearing?
Until a few days ago, I had no idea a small city, 100,000 people, were descending on San Francisco for the Supreme Court oral arguments hearing on March 5. I checked out the latest news from Amy Balliet at her Join the Impact site and learned about all these folks getting ready to be here in less than a week:
In an initiative begun by California college students, and joined by equality groups around the nation, we ask that you join us on March 5th for a moment that will make history! Please, come to San Francisco on March 5th and show the nation just how important equality is to you. We know that we’re asking a lot in this current economy, but this is huge!
If I didn't know Amy was a woman, I'd say, based on her fixation with large crowds, numbers and huge things, I'd imagine the person writing her posts was a size queen of the male species.
There is only one comment at Amy's post, and it's from me, questioning if 100,000 people are actually going to show up. Amy's partner, Willow, replied to me:
I know of student groups that have gotten funding for vans from their universities, and am getting several emails a day from folks coming from as far away as Boston, Cincinatti and Virginia- and I know not everyone would reach out and tell me. I think there’s just lots of folks that are arranging their own car pools and not relying on eride share.
This is mostly being organized by college students, who have their own ways of spreading the word to get folks to come from all over CA. Since we knew many people throughout the country would want to be involved we’re letting folks know what’s up.
That's nice, but if these activists really are expecting 100,000 folks in San Francisco, they should get around to recruiting a few of us locals to be there and maybe pitch in to fill the Civic Center plaza. No announcement about the huge rally was made at the February 26 town hall, nor was any flyer distributed to encourage us locals to attend, and after days of asking everyone I know if there were planning to be at the rally, knew nothing about it.
Would it be so terrible for those college students to build coalitions with gay grandfathers like me and other San Francisco adults?
A harsh-on-the-eyes web site, created by unnamed organizers, is up for the 100,000-person rally. Click here to read it. (Memo to the organizers: Please create a second version of the site for gay senior eyes such as mine that have trouble reading dark black background sites. A softer color tone would be appreciated by this old-timer.)
The site brags what anti-gay forces are saying about the upcoming rally:
So the Yes on 8 folks are taking us seriously.
Too bad the same can't be said of the local gay and alternative press, or activist community. Even if the unnamed organizers are young and not into reaching out to the dead-tree media and those who still rely on it to learn about demonstrations, it still behooves them to make an effort to make the publications aware of the 100,000 about to hit town.
Nothing appears in the Bay Area Reporter, the Bay Times, the Bay Guardian, the SF Weekly, and of course the SF Chronicle and SF Examiner. If there's been any promotion by local bloggers or signs posted around the Castro, Polk and Mission districts, I've missed it.
At the e-rides share site, there are only 7 rides offered listings and just 6 listing for those needing rides. And at the FaceBook page for those attending the rally, 16 messages are posted, about half from folks expressing regret they can't be in SF on March 5. This leads me to ask the question: Exactly where are the 100,000 folks coming from and who are they?
Maybe the web site creators and Amy and Willow at Join the Impact can turn out one-hundred thousand folks on March 5, and all it's going to take are a few blog posts and a site. If that happens, I'll be the first to applaud the throngs and encourage the organizer to patent their organizing idea.
On the other hand, if there are far fewer than that six-figure estimate who show up, I'd like an online discussion with the organizers about their tactics and efforts. Maybe they can tell me who is helped when community organizers announced enormous numbers,and only 1,000 or so actually make it to the rally. Whose credibility will be shot to pieces if 100,000 don't show up?
In the coming days, I suggest the March 5 rally planners do serious outreach to the local community and press, both online and dead-tree versions. There is still much time left to expand the extremely limited and poorly executed outreach of Join the Impact.
Let me end by saying I'm all in favor of big ideas, youth organizing for grand societal change, pounding the pavements for justice and gay equality. But none of those ideals are met when a disjointed impact occurs because of lazy organizing and the inability to attract a promised crowd the size of a small city.
(Photo credit: MO Obama 4 President site. Picture of 100,000 people cheering Obama in St. Louis in October. I don't think we'll see that size crowd in SF this week, not unless the president shows up!)