A couple of months ago I bought six hundred posters of the earth from space and have been putting them up on overpasses and alongside freeways. Not the boldest or most controversial of political statements I know, but still... somebody has to do it.
Ideally I want people to see the posters and be reminded of all those flags that went up on freeways after 9/11. Hopefully they'll consider the planet in the same light as we did our nation back then - something precious and worth saving... worth fighting for. Or at the very least worth mentioning.
The larger ones are printed on grommeted vinyl and I attach them with zip ties. The smaller ones (700mm x 700mm) I mount on cardboard with duct tape and spray adhesive. Hardly the most interesting work in the world, but mindless enough to let me listen to music and daydream.
The payoff comes a few weeks, sometimes even months, later when I'll be driving through some traffic-choked nightmare and see one of these posters, bleached by the sun, still strapped to the fence where I put it. I'll know it'd been seen a couple of million times by a couple of hundred thousand drivers, and for whatever it's worth, it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't done it.
Here's how they look after a couple of months in the sun.
Normally, this kind of exposure costs money. A lot of it. But if you're willing to make your own signs and put them up yourself, it costs practically nothing. If you want your message to be seen by a lot of people, use the freeways. Go for a drive and look for those bits of fencing that are easy to see and difficult to reach: those are the best places to put signs.
Example: this tree is a favorite of mine. It's on a siding off the Hollywood Freeway at Sunset Blvd - over the fence and down a bit from the parking lot at Denny's. Anything posted on this tree will be in full view of over 100,000 people a day, generally at a standstill, and with plenty of time to figure out how to reach the tree and take the sign down. (Go to Denny's and park in back, walk around the fence and trudge through 200 feet of ivy and you're there.) Nevertheless, signs put on this tree will stay up for weeks before someone takes them down.
Eventually someone decides they're tired of looking at what some hippie stuck on that tree (and over the years it's been quite an opinionated tree: "Nobody Died When Clinton Lied.", "Osama Bin Forgotten," "The War is a Lie." "Osama Who?" "Corporations are not people." etc.) and takes the time to exit the freeway, backtrack to Denny's, walk around the fence and through the ivy and take the damn thing down. This has been going on for over ten years now and nobody, at least to my knowledge, has ever thought to put up a sign of their own. This still amazes me.
So far this year I've put up about 750 posters and signs. You can see most of them posted here
, along with a couple thousand more I put up during the Bush administration. Every time I put up a sign I know it'll be taken down, but I also know at least a couple of thousand people are gonna see it first. Sometimes a couple of hundred thousand. Sometimes a million or more.
When I started doing this I thought it's only take a few dozen well-placed signs, maybe a couple of hundred tops, before people caught on and realized "Hey, I could do that too!" Then I figured things would just sort of take off from there. So far it hasn't happened, but that doesn't mean it won't.
Until then I'm fine working as a placeholder: putting signs up on freeways just so folks know it can be done. If I ever get arrested for it, believe me, I'll let you know.
So consider buying a couple of earth posters and sticking them up on some freeways. Yeah, it's a fairly innocuous message, but it could be a gateway to stronger stuff.