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Indybay Feature

Banner Manifesto on Highway One

by ~Bradley (bradley [at]
Text by Agusto Cesar Sandino Segundo.
Photos by Bradley.

On Friday July 11th, a group of about 30 people brought together by Youth Coalition Santa Cruz (YCSC), the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), and the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz (VCSC) all participated in a project to bring a series of radical and contemplative statements to motorists on Highway 1 during rush hour. Dubbed, the "Freeway Banner Manifesto" by organizers, it was an attempt to display a different message on every overpass from Santa Cruz to Watsonville on Highway 1. The effort was sucessful and 13 different banners were displayed for aproxiamately 45 minutes right in the middle of rush hour. The project was spearheaded by members of YCSC and the other two organizations provided the numerous volunteers necessary for the undertaking.
A participant and YCSC member dubbed "Katfish" had this to say, "I wanted to try to make the world a less bleak and depressing place by discussing these bleak and sometimes depressing issues in an uplifting way. I want to see reality for what it is; not only are the banners things that "normal" people don't normally think about, they're also things that people sometimes try not to think about beacuse they are so difficult. If people don't communicate feelings or important ideas than things won't progress and might even regress. We want to stop things from getting worse."

He followed by saying, "Communication is the key to ending alienating apathy. And what better way to communicate than to give people an important subject, or thirteen important subjects, right smack in the middle of the grinding monotony of the commute home."

What follows below is the text of every banner with a photo of the ones we could capture, followed by some commentary for each idea or statement. We wanted people to think about these, it wasn't at all about us having all the answers or trying to talk down to people. We figured that perhaps some constroversial statements might help people begin to think for themselves. We encourage dialog, discussion and other feedback about our project and look forward to involving you with other projects in the future. YCSC meets Tuesdays from 5 pm to 6:30 pm at the Resource Center for Nonviolence 515 Broadway in Santa Cruz and is open to all youth from 12 – 21. We seek to empower young people and help them enact their own projects. Previous projects have included a radio show on Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.1 FM, the Fruit Tree Project that collected excess fruit and produce from our neighborhoods, teaching classes with Free Skool Santa Cruz, taking care of and planting our own gardens, and much more. See ya there!
§Something is wrong with the world.
by ~Bradley
Pretty obvious if you've been paying attention in even the slightest of ways. You name it we got it, man made and natural disasters abound; war, food shortages, famine, pollution, natural disasters, global warming and so many more. It'd be a serious stretch to say our world is being managed very well.
§Our system is suicidal.
by ~Bradley
Clearly the dominant economic system seems to have no regard for the health of the planet, its current residents both human and other, or any future generations right to experience a healthy pristine planet like we're to some extent still able to enjoy. This thing is like a train going full speed ahead towards a curvy section of track, the consequences be damned! It just simply can't be sustained the way it has been and continues to be functioning, the planet just can't take the abuse!
§Our Planet is dying.
by ~Bradley
As stated above, the planet is in serious crisis and at some serious changing points in its history. Global warming, polar ice melt, deforestation, air and water pollution, species extinction, habitat loss, are just a few of the more obvious examples but there are soooooo many more. The planet has never had an inhabitant like humanity that could affect it and its natural systems so drastically and powerfully. Now, don't get us wrong here, obviously the planet is a powerful entity and will continue in some form or another, just what that planet will look like or how inhabitable it will be is another question entirely.
§We are all to blame.
by ~Bradley
This message was directed to the inhabitants of the automobiles on Highway 1 but is equally applicable to just about everyone in the developed world to a certain extent. If you were in one of those cars, you had some part in this system and its suicidal ways. This isn't to overly criticize the drivers or passengers, it goes much deeper than whether you drive or not, but that's a part and we at least wanted to introduce the idea that we all play a part in the systems exploitation of our planet, no matter how much we recycle, carpool, ride, garden, or whatever else.


Our way of life destroys.

This comes from ol' Dubya. Him and his criminal administration's insistence on constantly saying that “our way of life” is not negotiable. What an arrogant statement! Our “way of life” here in the developed world and the accompanying levels of consumption and pollution that go with it are simply unsustainable on so many levels. Scientists dispute the exact number but it would take numerous planets identical to earth in all its resources to sustain the “American way of life” on a planetary level. Are we really gonna say that we're going to live a certain way, and all you other people live in poverty and misery while we live it up over here on our side of the ocean and/or border wall fence. Sorry, but that's unacceptable! Obesity and related health problems are the US's number one health concern while globally there is a food shortage. Ridiculous!


Unlimited growth is not possible.

There seems to be this underlying economic philosophy that somehow, if we just keep producing and consuming then things will work out, and it will happen better and faster if we just deregulate everything and just let it happen. That whole deregulated free market neoliberalism way of thinking. Every transaction, no matter how destructive to the planet or its inhabitants is counted towards that false measure of a country's wealth or financial health, the GDP or Gross Domestic Product. Every clear cut, every mountain top removal, every loss of wetlands removes critical natural wealth from our planet and replaces it with a count of dollars and cents. This is supposed to be a good thing and a way to see how our economy is doing? Even a brutal multiple car pile up in which several people die is considered good for GDP. Think of all the repair work to be done for the autos, the costs of the funerals and associated expenses, all the insurance bureaucracy, etc, etc, etc. Morbid, huh?
§Economics and Politics lie.
by ~Bradley
Do you really need us to tell you politics and politicians lie? Economics however seems to hide behind a false sense of legitimacy in all of its social science glory. The problem is that economics is a false science. It is entirely based on assumptions of human activity that assume a person is guided solely by self interest and excludes all moral, ethical, religious, or other concerns a rational economic entity might have or obey. Science is built upon the idea that we have theories and they get proven or disproved and thus we learn. Economics flips this equation and gives us theories of human behavior as fact when in fact, many people don't or wouldn't behave in such a manner if given the chance. Not to mention that the dominant neoliberal model of development hasn't seemed to alleviate poverty much in the past 20 – 30 years that its been practiced. Argentina in late 2001 early 2002, anyone? They followed the model to a tee under President Menin and their economy and country was plundered, there really is no other way to describe it. Billions left over night after a total deregulation of the financial sector and the country plunged into economic chaos for years. The Argentinean people are probably stronger as a result of it all, but it really was one just big scam. A lie. One that continues to be respected despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Adbusters has an awesome campaign directed at Gregory Mankiw, a Harvard economics professor who continues to teach this failed, growth-obsessed, neoliberal model.
§We refuse to submit to madness.
by ~Bradley
OK. So we know all this, what do we do? The first is to identify the problem and refuse to take part to the best of your ability. Refuse to submit and find your way towards your own liberation. Figure out what you're dependent on and find more ways to do it yourself. We can all take small steps or big ones and of course some more than others. The important thing is that you recognize the problem and pledge to do something about it, whatever your heart tells you that might be. We don't have all the answers and would never claim to. Most of us feel that apathy, especially when it is not ignorant apathy but apathy that comes despite the blessing of this knowledge is perhaps the greatest insult to our future generations. They're counting on us and we're up for the challenge!
§We need a new way to live.
by ~Bradley
As stated above, the “American” way of life destroys and is not in the least bit sustainable. So what then? Go back to caves and sticks and all that? While some would certainly enjoy that, perhaps a more reasonable alternative would be to look at how we can live at a comfortable standard of living without the brutal exploitation and suffering of the other areas of the planet and its inhabitants. Our technology has allowed us to do some amazing things. Perhaps even a bit excessive and crazy sometimes, but amazing nonetheless. Lets use this incredible knowledge to shift our way of life from the accumulation of more wealth towards a world that takes care of its own better. Its now or never folks! Long past due for the next American Revolution, eh?
§We are not afraid of change.
by ~Bradley
Well, most of us anyway. These are scary times for sure. The struggle will be long and incredibly difficult in so many ways. Many of us won't be there to see a more just and sustainable world, neither will many of our kids. But we will continue down this (r)evolutionary path knowing that it is the right thing to do and that when all is said and done, we were on the side of sanity, dialog and sustainability and not the accumulation of destruction and death. It's too easy to do something because that's all you've ever known, and we can't get stuck in that trap now, the moment is too important. Maybe they'll call us crazy but so what? They said that to the abolitionists and the suffragettes and this movement will have to be even bigger than both mentioned so it'll take some time. That's how it goes in this battle of ideas. First they'll laugh at you, then they'll attack you, then you'll win. Cause we're right, this is our planet and we all deserve it intact.

“Which side are you on, boy, which side are you on.” Check out the hip hop artists Rebel Diaz's amazing vid.
§We will evolve or die.
by ~Bradley
Our planet has had evolutionary change and challenges for billions of years. This is not going to change anytime soon despite our activities. We might be able to cheat for a while with our technologies but sooner or later the question must arise as to whether we are fit to continue surviving despite ourselves. Isn't it supposed to be survival of the fittest? Well than quite frankly we're not very fit for survival. And we're not talking about the obesity thing, but here in the US that is an ironic reality. But we pose the question in just a broader, moral sense: Does a being or entity that treats its fellow beings and every other being on this planet as just a potential resource to be exploited truly deserve to rule with such absolute authority?

We are truly hopeful that we can take a look at ourselves and have the necessary courage to do an honest self analysis and begin an evolutionary, as opposed to revolutionary, change in our way of thinking. We don't just need to revolve back into another stupid system of exploitation, we need to evolve entirely from that mindstate.


We need real sustainability.

That doesn't mean a Prius for everyone! Real sustainability means many different things to many different people and we don't have an exact definition of what it is or what it would look like in todays world. The Native Americans of this continent had a fairly decent understanding before they were wiped out and there is much to learn by searching out ancient and indigenous ways of looking at the world around us that we could take from and enhance with appropriate technologies. A blend of the two worlds into a new one designed from the beginning for all. As the Zapatistas say, “For a world where many worlds fit.” My solution doesn't necessarily have to be yours and vice versa. We just have to respect each others right to have one in the first place so long as it respects all others as well. The important thing is that all ways take into account and in some way give back to or at least coexist with the natural world.
§We must respect all life on earth.
by ~Bradley
It seems so simple yet this also remains one of the most elusive concepts as well. Remember the golden rule in kindergarten? Now extend that to all living beings human, animal, plant or otherwise. This of course is easier said than done and there are a million and one ways to get into this topic. Everyone knows their own truth and hopefully can find the ability to walk down this path in various ways in their own lives. But also means the wholesale rejection of such barbaric practices as war, factory farming of animals, clear cuts of forests, and so many more. We guess, it's as simple as asking yourself as you go about your life whether the decisions you make, the products you consume, the way you transport yourself either hurt and oppress or help to liberate people and the planet from the greedy, suicidal, blood soaked, destructively murderous almighty dollar

Just something to think about as we go about our lives. Thanks for the time and attention.
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