grassroots communication in urban america

Shane of Nickerblog posted this commentary on

There are an awful lot of weird amateur signs around this city, actually, now that he’s pointed it out. And not just of the MICHAEL IS INNOCENT or JESUS IS COMING variety.

(By the way, Jesus DID come to Echo Park. Jesus is on their Historical Society – he’s a Mexican-American guy with a ponytail)

There are signs everywhere for phone hookups, to start with, for illicit 310 numbers. There are random posterboards for clubs, for expos, for merchandise. It’s a strange grassroots advertising system in L.A. – and yet, I know that the views of the stencilled pasteboards stapled to phone poles on La Brea get just as many views as the giant billboards above them.

Maybe advertising doesn’t just belong to the agencies. I’ve been thinking about this lately, how to communicate to the masses. I’ve been on the flip side of my job lately, flyering for grassroots organizations like Critical Mass or CODEPINK, rather than being on the magazines-and-TV commercials side of it like I am/was at the Agency. How do you get a message to millions of people without mainstream media, when they don’t know to look for it?

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to advocate putting up posterboards on phone poles. That’s a little too grassroots. But it is a much better application of the grassroots metaphor to compare the messaging and communication of flyering and stenciled cardboard signs to the desert thistle springing up outside the subway stop downtown.

By the way, this objective, thoughtful post is to make up for the overly emotional one that I put up in a fit of self-pity last night. Although I may return to that state if people don’t start returning my damn calls soon. It’s Saturday night – I should be at the bar by now.

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