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Mission and PurposeThe Backbone Campaign’s goal is to give a voice to community members and the masses, alike, by way of “Artful Activism” (Backbone Campaign). Through the teaching of non-violent techniques and strategies, the Backbone Campaign looks first to give individuals the tools to have an effective political voice, and second to implement those skills in a manner that generates a dialogue between political leaders and those that they represent. Through the creation and utilization of “innovative messaging and political theater …[as well as] creative tactics such as spectacle imagery and other festival arts, giant banners and puppets, flash mobs, music and other theatrical forms of non-violent direct action,” the Backbone Campaign believes that they can restore a political voice to the American public. “The Backbone Campaign awakens and inspires Americans to build a progressive movement, reclaim our government, and secure a future worthy of our children.” – Mission Statement via Meet the Backbone Campaign
HistoryThe Backbone Campaign was conceptualized and set into motion by a group of artists on Vashon Island—near Seattle, Washington—in 2002. Some of the initial goals of the project were to create signs to show politically motivated messages at freeway overpasses, and—on a more national level—market their creative skills and the concept of a Backbone Campaign to progressive movements in the Washington DC area. However, after being met with less than satisfactory interest, the artists switched their focus to their own community, as well as other similarly progressive, grassroots organizations around the country. In the Campaign’s inaugural year, they gave out a series of “Backbone” awards—featuring a golden spinal column—to the likes of Jim McDermott, Howard Dean, and Cynthia McKinney for their commitment to upholding progressive values in the face of great adversity. By 2004, the Backbone Campaign had created their own progressive platform, which they utilized to, “introduce progressive values and language into local and state party platforms through the 2004 caucus process and the 2004 DNC platform committee hearings” (Meet the Backbone Campaign). In 2004, the artists of the Backbone Campaign also created a 70-foot-long backbone puppet, with a progressive platform item on each vertebra, which was used at demonstrations along the West Coast, eventually making it to the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Along with the spine, Backbone artists also created the “Bush and Co. Chain Gang”—giant puppet heads made in the likenesses of Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush, wearing prison uniforms and shackles. In their effort to continue to promote accountability, the Campaign also gave out a number of “Spine Awards” to politicians and activists who had done work on a community scale. They also created their “‘Thank and Spank’ citizen lobbying tools” that presented representatives with “Spine Cards” when they stood up for progressive values or policies, or “Spineless Citations” when they voted against progressive principles. In the eight years since, the Backbone Campaign has taken on many nationally relevant projects, and allied itself with similar organizations such as Move To Amend, the Puffin Foundation West, MoveOn.org, and Occupy Wall Street, in order to further achieve their goals.
Supporters and participants involved in the Campaign’s work are quite varied, based on Backbone’s goal to provide training, strategies, and “creative tactics” to any who wish to communicate their discontent with politicians who refuse to stand firmly for the progressive ideals they’ve committed to, or with companies that aim to exploit citizens or the environment. Also, through their Localize This! Action Camp, the Backbone Campaign has made an effort to reach out especially to the Pacific Northwest’s outdoor-oriented progressives, with a series of climbing and kayaking-based actions.
Major projects and events
- Localize This! Action Camp
- Shared Sacrifice My Ass
- For the People Rally & Summit
- Action-In-A-Box: Corporate Personhood Action Toolkit
- The 99% Choir Goes Christmas Caroling
- The Fight for Puget Sound
- BP/Arco Boycott
Deliberation, Decisions, and Public InteractionThe Backbone campaign is a collaboration between many individuals who donate their time and effort to promote the organization’s success. Below is a list of the Campaign’s current staff, as listed by BackboneCampaign.org:
- Executive Director: Bill Moyer
- Managing Director: Yve Susskind
- Project Organizer: Jared Middle Calf
- Affiliated Artist/Puppetista: Christopher Lutter
- Affiliated Artist: Steffon Moody
- Affiliated NVDA Trainer: Logan Price
- Board of Trustees: President Stan Sorscher
- Board of Trustees: Treasurer Doug Skove
- Board of Trustees: Secretary Anne Gavzer
- Board of Trustees: Trustee John Sellers
- Board of Trustees: Trustee Jim Diers
The Backbone Campaign, as a grassroots, non-profit organization, is funded by supporters’ and participants’ donations.
Through their constant commitment to create new actions, the organizers at the Backbone Campaign keep the organization, as well as similar organizations, in the political conversation. The Backbone Campaign’s strategies have been shown to be effective, and their work shows their commitment to improving and spreading those strategies.
- Backbone Campaign. 21 Feb 2012 <http://backbonecampaign.org/>.
- Brown, Leslie. "Glacier gets OK for Maury Island dock, opponents vow to keep fighting." 10 July 2008. Vashon Beachcomber. 21 Feb 2012 <http://www.vashonbeachcomber.com/news/24080919.html>.
- Kouril, Cynthia. "The 99% Choir goes Christmas Caroling." 27 Dec 2011. FireDogLake. 21 Feb 2012 <http://my.firedoglake.com/cindykouril/2011/12/27/the-99-choir-goes-chris....
- Meet the Backbone Campaign. Dir. Bill “backbonebill” Moyer. Prod. Jeff Hoyt. youtube.com, 2007.
- Moyer, Bill. "Boycott of BP-ARCO Actions in Seattle on Friday ." 27 May 2010. Washington State Action Network. 20 Feb 2012 <http://wanet.org/actions/Boycott-of-BP-ARCO-Actions-in-Seattle-on-Friday>.
- —. "Corporate Personhood: Action-In-A-Box Toolkit." 30 Nov 2011. Backbone Campaign. 21 Feb 2012 <http://backbonecampaign.org/2011-12-13-18-50-10/toolkits-and-education/i....
- —. "Creativity & Bold Action on the 2nd Anniv. of Citizens United VS FEC Featured." 31 Jan 2012. Backbone Campaign. 21 Feb 2012 <http://backbonecampaign.org/component/k2/item/35-otc-dc-seattle>.
- —. "Shared Sacrifice My Ass Regatta # 1." 22 Aug 2011. Backbone Campaign. 21 Feb 2012 <http://backbonecampaign.org/component/k2/item/25-sharedsacrifice1-backbo....
- —. "Timeline to Victory - An Agitator's Perspective on How a Community Beat Goliath." 13 Dec 2011. Backbone Campaign. 21 Feb 2012 <http://backbonecampaign.org/component/k2/item/14-timeline-to-victory-an-....