Recently in my scroll through the mass of horrors that my Facebook page has become, I came across a couple of stories that made me think. One was about an elderly German woman who goes around her town cleaning up Neo-Nazi graffiti and stickers. The other was about some public transit passengers who had cleaned up anti-Semetic graffiti. When I came across the stories, I had been struggling with meaningful ways to make a difference, and resist. But, these two stories sparked ideas that have grown.
I usually carry a messenger bag with me. Let’s take a look at what’s inside:
Wet wipes, alcohol based sanitizer, a multi-tool
Rubbing alcohol can be used to clean off graffiti done in pen and Sharpie. If the graffiti is in paint, it’s probably too large to use rubbing alcohol on anyway, and if not it can be scrapped off with the multi-tool.
Stickers and fliers can be scrapped down also with the multi-tool, and if you put the sanitizer on before you start scrapping you will be able to remove the adhesive as well with minimal effort.
Another great thing about a multi-tool is that it’s a tool. If you’re walking down the street and you see something here or there that needs fixed, why wait for the city to notice? Fix it! Don’t wait for those sticking out screws to catch a kids arm, bust out your multi-tool and screw it in. Loose bench seats? Wobbly street sign? Give it a little fix, and maybe people will even see and get the idea. Make your community a little better!
Packing Tape, Elmer’s glue, “Know Your Rights” posters, stickers, Sharpie
Conversely, these are for putting things up. These materials are to put posters up. If you have good ideas for posters besides “Know Your Rights” such as Substance Abuse Hotlines, location and map with local public showers and food banks, etc you should get them, make them, or download and print them!
When putting up posters, look for locations that aren’t necessarily where you go or spend time, but where the people who you are trying to target with your poster will be at. So, if you’re trying to send out a message to homeless people about inclement weather shelters, don’t put it up at the bullitain board at your favorite Starbucks, take it to the underpass where people sleep. Have glue and tape at the ready, because different urban textures work better with one or the other.
When putting up stickers, look for places that are in constant eye sight, but are also constantly ignored. For example, bus stops, the light pole where people wait at the cross walk so they read the sticker while they wait to cross, electrical boxes, newspaper boxes, the backs of street signs, and any other locations you think of. Places where people have a moment to look and think about what you posted, but people in authority never care enough to come and try and clean it up.
Graffiti has a lot of the same rules as stickers. Depending on how long your message, many of the same locations will work, as well as places like public restrooms, parking garages, and other blank concrete slates.
Pens, notebooks, sketchbooks, cellphone
It’s always good to have plenty of ways to write down ideas, and organize thoughts, but also it’s good to document what is happening, with timelines, quotes, drawings, and photos. It can be a car accident, or you witnessing someone on the bus get assaulted, you don’t want to wish you had some way to remember exactly what happened. If you have some app like Periscope, or even just Facebook live, that is also a good way to document events.
Also, sometimes it’s just nice to draw 🙂
Waterbottle (to drink, but always refill it), Maloxx, asprin, bandana, small first aid kit
These are “just in case” things mostly, except for the water. It’s also good to stay hydrated. But it’s also in the event that you’re protesting, or even on the way home and run into an escalated police situation. It definitely happens. These are so you can treat yourself or others, even for tear gas and other police related injuries. Or white nationalist related injuries. Also, for people worried about safety, a metal (or any) waterbottle filled with water is basically a club, and if you’re ever worried about walking home at night, or feel like you’re in an unsafe situation, keeping your waterbottle filled can be an unpleasant surprise for someone else and big help to you.
I try to well stocked with lots of first aid goodies, and keep up to date on proper training. Even if you’re not someone who might drop by a protest after work, it’s always good to be prepared. For example, in my area, we have earthquakes, and we’re encouraged to carry emergency supplies in our cars. I don’t have a car, so I carry supplies in my bag. I also get around a lot on the bus, on foot, on kayak, to work and to a lot of community events. I’m trained in CPR/ First Aid (I cannot recommend enough that everyone routinely gets this training, it is a great skill to know) and I have used some of my First Aid skills and kit plenty of times before just at work, while hiking, on the bus, and many other places. People fall down, choke on food, and other everyday occurrences that have nothing to do with going to large protests. If you want to be a great community member, get First Aid training!
sewing kit, important phone numbers (ACLU, my partner, my doctor), list of medications I take, extra medication (enough for three days)
These are all the miscellaneous odds and ends that I carry with me, but again, even if you don’t plan on going to protests of participating in direct actions that may get you arrested (not chaining yourself to the oil-trains anytime soon) it’s still a good idea to carry much of this info with you. Car accidents happen and you may want your doctor and families number, especially if your cell phone gets damaged. Also, many people in our country live in areas where natural disaster preparedness is a good idea, and therefor carrying extra medication and loved one’s phone numbers is a good idea. Also consider money for a payphone incase your phone is damaged, although in many cities these are being torn out, so look around your area, and if you live in an area where there could even be an emergency, or if you’re even going to a protest where you think there is a possibility something could happen, come talk to your family ahead of time to make a contact plan.