Spinal Column March 18, 2019

Thanks to the many ways you take action and your support of this bold activism, Backbone has been busier than ever.

Our 2018 Annual Report is out - read it HERE! In addition to making big strides on our core program (artful activism, Solutionary Rail, and saving the Resident orca), we also helped strengthen the organization through board development, stronger Operating Procedures, and trainings in nonprofit best practices. That work continues and we are excited to be engaged in a Strategic Planning Process, led by Confluence NW, to strengthen our backbone for the future.  

We also welcome a few new folks to our staff - actually they've all been helping Backbone over the last many years, but have stepped up in a more "official" capacity:

  • Laura Daughenbaugh is our Imagery Wrangler and Warehouse Coordinator. Contact Laura to reserve a prop or order a banner tool kit.
  • Rob Peterson - aka Farmer Rob - adeptly tracks the finances, as our new Bookkeeper.
  • Danny O'Brien is keeping our social media accounts hopping with the latest news and actions. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Phil Ateto continues to organize Backbone Solidarity Brigades, while pulling off bold creative projections around the Capital

Backbone Campaign's three areas of core program are:

  • Artful Activism including Solidarity Brigades and Builder's Guild - giving people tools to Rise Up to Protect What they Love
  • Solutionary Rail - an innovative proposal that draws unconventional allies together while decarbonizing our transportation and electric infrastructure
  • Creative actions to save the Puget Sound orca by building pressure on elected officials to call for breaching the 4 deadbeat dams on the Lower Snake River. 

Artful Activism

Welcome to our new Solidarity Brigade in the Bay Area!  They are skilled at digital projection and we're excited to begin developing that tool for our Network, to complement the light projections we do with GOBOs. Alan and his crew join Solidarity Brigades in 30 other cities across the US. 

The Builder's Guild Team on Vashon Island has created an extensive library of LED letters that are shippable so we can share this vibrant tool across the country.  Our Volunteer team meets every Wednesday in the Backbone warehouse to wire, solder, paint, and assemble. Want to join them?  Stop by Backbone HQ any Wednesday between 12-7pm. 

Another creative project we're starting next week is building a kaleidoscope of monarchs, to symbolize our solidarity with immigrants and refugees, as well as ecological beings vulnerable to danger due to the border wall and the climate crisis.  Sign up to help make butterflies, then stay that evening for our Monthly Potluck, the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 6pm.

In a couple weeks we'll start constructing a lifesize replica of Tahlequah, to add to our library of inflatable puppets we share around the country.  If you have Rhino/CAD skills for creating the pattern or sewing skills and can lend some time to this project, let us know.

If you want to get involved with creative actions happening across the country, sign up for our Organizing Call  this Thursday.

Backbone in the News: Backbone props were recently featured in The Guardian, Washington Post, and Seattle Times!

To see more of what we've been up to, check out our Recent Actions Page.

Solutionary Rail

We were honored to host an author event with Bruce Campbell recently where he presented about the horrific Lac Megantic Rail Explosion in Quebec and what can be done to prevent another tragedy.  Learn more about this book and watch the presentation HERE.

The next evening, with All Aboard Washington, we co-hosted a briefing at the Washington State Senate Building on Electrified Rail, the dangers of oil trains, and the need for better safety regulations. Several Senators and staffers stopped by to learn more from the SR Team.

Our focus now is on getting Congressmembers' attention, so they include Solutionary Rail as an integral component of a Green New Deal:

  • Getting it right on rail transportation with common sense, rail-based solutions is an opportunity to find common cause in otherwise divisive times.
  • Making rail modernization an integral component of an interlocking decarbonized transportation infrastructure for people and freight is something that draws unconventional allies together.

Bill will be in DC the first week of April to lobby policymakers. Let us know if you can arrange a meeting with your Representative/Senator to introduce the proposal to them. EMAIL to help or get involved.

Who do you think needs a Solutionary Rail book?  Fill out the form, and we'll send them a free hard copy. 

To learn more about Solutionary Rail, watch the 3 minute video and download (for free) the ebook, using coupon code 4WRD2GTHR.

Additional info on Solutionary Rail is in this supplemental brief.

Backbone's work is fueled by small monthly donations, made by over 150 people like you.  You can join the Lumbar Club with a donation that fits your budget HERE - or dedicate it specifically for Solutionary Rail HEREThank you!

We Love Salmon and Orca Campaign

Since Puget Sound Resident Orca Mother Tahlequah carried her deceased calf for 17 days, a message of urgency about the dire conditions faced by her pod, Backbone Campaign has mobilized banners, light projections, and eight Human Orca Murals across the State.  Our hope is to double that number by June 1st.

If you want to create this in your community, let us know.  Upcoming Orca Murals are planned for Wenatchee, Spokane, Olympic Peninsula, Bainbridge Island, and more!

WATCH a short video of the Orca Mural in Astoria, Oregon.

Can you make a donation to support Backbone's creative activism for the orca?

We hit 2019 running and are working hard to show our policy makers in Washington State that people want there to be lots of salmon for the orca, to get Solutionary Rail in as part of a Green New Deal, and to provide compelling imagery to activists and groups across the country.  Read on below if you're in Washington State for some important actions/events.

Thank you for being part of this work to build a better world.

~ Bill, Amy and the Backbone Team

And for those in Washington State:

Action Alert

The State Legislature is getting their biennial budget ready, and they need to hear from us that we support doing what it takes to get orca the food they are dying for - and that means Lower Snake River dam removal. Specifically, we are asking for funding for two specific actions:

  • Increased “spill” over the dams in the Snake and Columbia River is key to out-migrating juvenile salmon, increasing their survival rates. This means more salmon for orcas. 
  • A stakeholder forum among potentially impacted communities, tribes, and Eastern Washington to figure out what it will take to remove the dams as soon as possible. This conversation is critical to building the political support needed to achieve dam removal.

Can you write to your State Representatives and Senator today and let them know of your support for these two critical pieces of the budget?

For more info, check out Save Our wild Salmon's Action Page.

Upcoming Events (email [email protected] for more info on any of these)


Raven People Rising: Solidarity fundraiser for Heiltsuk Nation, March 26th.  Learn more or donate directly to the Heiltsuk's campaign to protect its sacred waters from oil spills HERE.

Backbone Meaningful Movies presents Jane, April 9th; This is Home: A Refugee Story, May 14th; Dammed to Extinction, June 11th. Films show the 2nd Tuesday of the month at Vashon Theatre, 6pm.

Weekly Art Build, every Wednesday in our Sheffield Building Warehouse, 18850 103rd Ave SW, Vashon. 

Spokane: Earth Day Celebration and Human Orca Mural, April 13th

Kitsap Peninsula: Artful Activism Workshop, April 19th

Port Townsend AND Bainbridge Island: Human Orca Murals, April 20-21

Seattle: Chocolatada, Backbone Campaign Fundraiser at Palace Ballroom, September 28th - Save the Date!