Creative Actions & Rail in the Public Interest - a Backbone update

With this Spinal Column update for April 2023, we hope the beauty and creativity of actions will inspire your activism!

Backbone has been busy with action support and trainings, educating state legislators about rail and its unique role in solving the Lower Snake River dam crisis, and joining in on advocacy for environmental justice communities and railroad labor, as well as for public ownership of rail.

Please read on to learn more about what your support has made happen - we are grateful that Backbone is one of the ways you make a difference!

Scroll down for more info on these actions:

  • Training and Youth rally in Olympia for salmon and orca
  • Artful Activism Workshop for youth on San Juan Island
  • Projection on Starbucks HQ in solidarity with workers
  • Protect Climate Forests action at USDA and Dept of Interior
  • Keep Masks in WA banner actions
  • SmashThePatriarchy projections, for human rights
  • The Golden Rule Peace Boat - arriving in Annapolis this month!

Solutionary Rail has been a big focus this year, including:

  • Expressions of Solidarity, webinar with EJ allies and rail labor
  • Railyard electrification proviso in the Washington State legislature (!)
  • Progress on Lower Snake River region rail
  • Supporting national calls for public ownership of rail


In January we worked with high school and college students to plan for and deploy a march to our State Capitol, to bring to legislators' attention the urgency of the climate/salmon/orca/extinction crises.

Bill taught an Artful Activism workshop to middle schoolers in March, in collaboration with a community arts center in the San Juan Islands.  The kids made large placards of salmon, learned about the role of youth activists in the past, and even got to do some light projection.  Two of them wanted to speak during the closing march through "downtown" Friday Harbor. One of the youth was very nervous - but very passionate about the Willow project. He wasn't going to participate, but then as he told Bill "I decided that if I faced my fears, I might be able to make a big difference." Working with these kids reconnects us with why we do this work!

Last month, in solidarity with workers, Backbone projected on Starbucks HQ, just across the water from our own headquarters.


Last week Bill headed to DC to join Phil, along with youth from Sunrise, to light up USDA and Dept of Interior, calling for protection of climate forests. The message on the USDA (overseer of the US Forest Service) was "Secretary Vilsack, who speaks for the trees?" and on the Dept of Interior, "Old Growth and Mature Forests - Worth More Standing."  Keeping our giant trees unlogged is an important part of addressing the climate crisis. For more info, check out OregonWild.

Solidarity Brigades around the country have projected, bannered, and organized for peace, community safety, and justice, including this action by Seattle Still Cares, to keep the mask mandate for all healthcare, long term care, and prisons. #KeepMasksInWA



Solutionary Rail is seeing many of the issues we've been raising since 2017 in today's news - from solidarity with rail labor to the urgency of railyard electrification and the call for public control of rail, out of the hands of Wall Street greed.

Our recent conversation with rail labor and EJ allies, Expressions of Solidarity, built upon the call by United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) that "Our nation can no longer afford private ownership of the railroads; the general welfare demands that they be brought under public ownership."

Learn more about public ownership of rail and who benefits, and hear directly from community members impacted by dirty diesel locomotives from this webinar we did on March 1. (Both Spanish and English language versions are available at the link.)

Following the webinar, Bill wrote language and submitted it as a Proviso to the Washington State Legislature, calling for a railyard electrification study.  While a lot of our communications on other rail topics went unheeded, legislators did act on our proviso, and it is included in the updated Transportation Budget.  The Budget is now in Reconciliation, and we eagerly await seeing if it makes it out and onto the Governor's desk.

In Washington State?  Contact your legislator TODAY, asking that the study for railyard electrification, as included in the House Transportation Budget, be retained.

We are continually refining our study of the Lower Snake River region and how short line rail can offer farmers a reliable, affordable, and connected system for shipping their grain to markets, without relying on Lower Snake River barges. Bill recently spent time in SE Washington meeting with officials from ports, railroads and other stakeholders. #TrainsCanSaveSalmon

Want to get involved? Send us an email and let us know the area of work you're interested in!



As someone recently said, Backbone Campaign is a lean and mean organization, taking on big fights!  If this is something you can support financially, we appreciate your help.  Make a one time gift HERE or sign up to join our Lumbar Club HERE - Lumbar Club members commit to a small monthly donation - and they are the backbone of the Backbone Campaign!

Thank you for being part of this work, and we'll see you in the streets!

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