Spinal Column - March 2022

"Ready, Set, ACTION!"  Artful Activism Update

Thanks to the support of so many Backbone friends, we've been hitting 2022 pretty hard - training folks across the country in light projection, kayaktivism, and action design; deploying banners and spotlights for progressive issue campaigns; and fighting for rail as a solution to the climate crisis - a solution that is sensible, proportionate and achievable.

Read on for some highlights of what's happened over the past few months, and for an update on what's upcoming.

Standing with Ukraine & Decarbonization

Our Backbone East Champ, Phil Ateto, has been knocking it out of the park with projections, including this art and flag, in solidarity with Ukraine and with climate mandates for fossil fuel-free electrification. (On a grassroots call this week, peace activists agreed that decarbonization is the real solution to preventing wars over resources. Check out this article by Bill McKibben, Heat Pumps for Peace and Freedom.)

Download and print this beautiful Stand With Ukraine image. (Or got a digital projector or LED light? Project it in your city or town!)

Thanks, Phil, for all the ways you show up, with courage, creativity and resolve, every day for a better future.

- Light projection on the Maryland State House, Annapolis.

Showing up for Salmon and Orca - Breach the 4 Dams on the Lower Snake River 

A big emphasis of Backbone's work between now and July (the deadline for a proposal from Senator Murray and Governor Inslee on restoring salmon), is to stand with tribes and join their call to breach the four dams on the Lower Snake. We've recently produced two Human Orca Murals and built banners for deployment on overpasses, with more to come.

This weekend we'll be supporting a procession to the Congressional offices in Tacoma and coordinating another human mural of an Orca in Olympia the following Saturday. Our Solutionary Rail project provides a fascinating intersection with preventing the extinction of Snake River salmon -we are collaborating with other groups to develop a map for shifting the transportation of wheat from barges to trains. 

We'll keep the banners waving and projection messages lighting up the night. Want to join in? Interested in bringing the Human Orca Mural to your community? Connect with us to get set up! 

Creative Action for Frontline Communities

Backbone recently did light projection training and deployed our giant inflatable elephant at the Arm in Arm General Assembly in Birmingham. Steve from Spokane and Phil from Annapolis showed how to use spotlights, and they trained our EJ friends at GASP how to use the elephant.

Make The Road NY recently contacted Backbone for banner support for their campaign to Fund Excluded Workers, essential workers impacted by the pandemic but without the status or documentation to qualify for pandemic relief or unemployment benefits.  Because volunteers have been coming in to the warehouse to cut out banner letters, we had a good inventory of letters and banner toolkits to rush send, in time for their march from NYC to Albany NY. The March demanded Governor Hochul fully #FundExcludedWorkers who were denied COVID relief funds. Read more about this critical campaign HERE.

Backbone CSO Jacob Johns connected our Spokane Solidarity Brigade Member Steve with a No More Stolen Sisters Art Show at Gonzaga University.  Steve showed up to project at the show's opening with some Backbone GOBOs. The art show coincides with the WA State Legislature approving a Missing Indigenous Persons Alert, similar to an Amber or Silver Alert. 

This is just some of the work we've done over the last few months. Solutionary Rail is growing; Bill attended the annual Transportation Research Board conference in DC in January, and our research continues on the impacts of freight and the urgency of modeshift. We have started researching the feasibility of shifting freight off of barges on the Snake (the raison d'etre for the 4 dams on the Lower Snake) and onto rail.

Our local Vashon Resilience project participated in last weekend's Lamporama, fixing over 45 lamps in just a few hours!  Hats off to the good work of the Vashon MakerSpace and Tool Library for their leadership on our local Fix It Repair Cafes. 

In January we co-hosted a film screening and panel discussion of Since I Been Down. To watch the film, check out the options on the film's website; the excellent panel discussion can be viewed HERE.

Upcoming Events 

  • Winds of Change Book Group with Rivera Sun - Mondays in May, 4:30 PT | 7:30pm ET. Sign up today to get an autographed copy of the book and start reading!
  • Virtual Film Screening Necessity: Climate Justice & The Thin Green Line (April Date TBD)


  • Drop In at the Warehouse - help us prep banner materials for the many requests we get from across the US - Wednesdays, 11-4.  RSVP if you plan to stop by - folks can either work at the warehouse with us or take a kit home.
  • Stop Salmon Extinction Rallies in Tacoma and Olympia (including a Human Orca Mural in Olympia) - March 26 and April 2. Info: BackboneCampaign.org/home_calendar

Support This Work

Backbone is able to show up for communities fighting to protect what they love thanks to the 150+ members of our Lumbar Club.  Lumbar Club members donate anywhere between $5-$1100/month and are the backbone of our work!  If you haven't yet joined and have some resources to pitch in, please click here, or make a 1-time gift here.  All contributions are tax-deductible (Backbone Campaign is a 501c3 not for profit.)

Thank you for helping us show up in solidarity for so many important causes.

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