October Spinal Column: Beauty and Boldness in the Streets

Backbone is fortunate that the creative tools we provide to organizations and individuals fighting for a better future can be utilized safely and effectively, even during this time of pandemic.  We are even more committed to getting communities tooled up with CoViD-safe gear and supporting campaigns for essential workers, providing training to frontline works in using gear, scouting, and action planning. 

Our Solutionary Rail campaign is making impacts on the national dialog on freight transport and the public interest, from the Transportation Research Board to environmental justice coalitions, to leading advocacy groups for rural communities, labor and the environment. Solutionary Rail is increasingly part of the discussion. 

Our Localization organizing continues to provide resiliency tools worthy of replicating and taking the lessons learned to other communities. We are especially excited about our launch of the Vashon Island Time Exchange as part of VashonResilience.org.

As the country is rattled by chaos and divisiveness, we are steadfastly supporting change agents to shift culture away from a paradigm of commodification to a paradigm of justice and sustainability. Faithful to our slogan from Backbone's founding in 2004 that celebrates We the People as the source of fundamental change: "When the people lead, the leaders follow!" So, let's continue to lead with boldness and beauty, expanding alliances across differences, to allow everyone the opportunity to be a Solutionary. 


  • We conducted our first Virtual Action Training working with warehouse workers across the country on bannering and light projection.
  • We are preparing to support a campaign to stop an insanely stupid offshore drilling operation in the Bahamas.
  • We brought our Love Wins - Grand Strategy and the Art of War for Nonviolent Social Movements presentation to a teen group at a local public library to help them design effective actions that lead with vision, enroll new allies, and use messaging that is unassailable. 

Would a group you're part of like to get trained up in light projection or bannering? Or talk about messaging ideas?  Take a Deeper Dive into Blockades and Freeway Shutdowns?  Contact Backbone HQ to set up a workshop!

Projections and Bannering

Some recent actions we've supported have included:

  • In San Francisco, AE rocked his projector for justice, to support Essential Workers, SEIU 87 Janitors.

  • In Seattle, each Tuesday the Backbone banner team connects with tens of thousands of morning commuters, with messages about Voting, Black Lives Matter, and Medicare For All. If you'd like to join them, send us an email.

  • The fight to guarantee healthcare to all people in our country has never been more important. Backbone helped get the message out on the recent National Day of Action, called by National Nurses United.

  • Phil in the DC area did projections in support of Freeing Julian Assange and 1st Amendment Protected Press Freedoms, and earlier this summer projected on the Baltimore Baseball Stadium messages of Black Lives Matter.

  • Tina in Portland, Maine projected lights and images on the local Fox News station and the Portland Police Station, in solidarity with the family of Breonna Taylor and Black Lives Matter. On the night of RGB's passing, she projected beautiful images of remembrance across the city.

  • Russ in Madison, WI is using art to Get Out the Vote and training youth climate activists in the use of projection.

See more photos and news at our Flickr site and the Recent Actions page.


Backbone recently interviewed Community Organizer Steve Meacham on organizing to fulfill people's human right to housing. Listen HERE.

Another recent interview was with Author Steven Shafarman, on Universal Basic Income. The time for UBI is now, and support for this visionary idea is growing. Listen HERE. 

Solutionary Rail continues to connect with freight policy leaders at both the national and grassroots levels.  Last month we interviewed the European Union's Director of Shift2Rail, on the history of freight rail in Europe compared to the US, a tool they've developed to harmonize infrastructure, and how they catalogued the external costs of transportation.  Take a listen to this groundbreaking call.

Localize This! - local projects for resilience

On Vashon Island, Backbone Campaign's home base, we've set up a new time bank, the Vashon Island Time Exchange.  Contact us if you'd like info on what we did, so you can set one up in your community. 

In September, the Time Exchange held its launch with our first Community Teach-In.  Members gave workshop presentations on topics they're knowledgeable out, with the idea that we all have something to share and to contribute. Presentations ranged from Fixing Furniture, Food Preparation, Yarn Spinning, Rhythm and Drumming to Vashon Island History, the Deficit Myth, and more.  Watch these informative and interesting presentations here: VashonResilience.org

On Vashon? Join the Time Exchange: VashonTime.org

And please put Saturday, October 17th on your calendar, for our 2nd Community Teach-In.  Free and open to all.

We need your help to keep this work growing!

If this work inspires you and you'd like to see Backbone continue sharing tools and gear with community-based organizations, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution here.

And if you're able to join our Lumbar Club by contributing a small amount each month, please donate here.

We are grateful for your support that keeps amplifying the messages from we the people so we can shift culture and build a society where everyone is in, no one is left out.

Team Backbone - Bill, Phil, Amy, Laura