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Portland Resistance 2017: Bikes and YouTube stars

Subscriber Post by Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike) on January 23rd, 2017 at 1:23 pm

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

[Note: This post was submitted by BikePortland Subscriber Kiel Johnson (a.k.a. “Go By Bike”) through our Subscriber Post system. We think it deserves a wider reach so we’ve posted it here on the Front Page. Remember, if you are a subscriber you are also a contributor! We would love to amplify your voice and share your experiences with a wider audience. Sign up here. – Jonathan]

What does mass resistance look like in 2017 Portland? The marches we saw over this weekend were the largest since the Vietnam War, unless of course, you follow “alternate facts”. If you look at the history of resistance in the world, it is constantly changing. Resistance must conform to the technology and public spaces of that period. Martin Luther King used television and the American Revolution used pamphlets.

But what will mass resistance look like in a city of highly informed people with access to more technology in their pocket than NASA used to get to the moon? Combine that with a city that has been building more public spaces with bicycle, pedestrian, and transit access faster (although not fast enough) than any other time in the history of cities. Over the next four years we will find out what this resistance looks like but here are a couple of thoughts on what could be important to these new movements.

Phoenix has 2.5 times our population yet we had 5 times the number of marchers. There is no place for 100,000 people to go in Phoenix and no way for them all to get there.

Just for a minute imagine if every one of those 100,000 people who attended Portland’s Saturdays march drove by themselves. Talk about disruptive! It simply would have been impossible. Also imagine that Portland had kept its highway instead of building Waterfront Park. There would have been no place for protesters to go. Phoenix has 2.5 times our population yet we had 5 times the number of marchers. There is no place for 100,000 people to go in Phoenix and no way for them all to get there.

I believe that in the resistance of the 21st century the bicycle will play a crucial role.

Pedalpalooza Kickoff Ride 2016-28.jpg

The 2016 Pedalpalooza Kickoff Ride rolls up SE Belmont.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

People bicycling to large marches are simply the most efficient and easiest way to get the most number of people to attend. The tools that we have developed during Pedalpalooza are the tools we will need to use to create effective resistance. Shift’s Pedalpalooza — a month-long festival of 300+ free bike events by and for the entire community — has been the training ground for a huge number of potential future march leaders. The Naked Bike Ride has taught us how to lead a huge group of people and the BBQ grills many have built onto their bikes can be used to feed those marchers. The sound systems we have built on cargo bikes will amplify the music that transforms a park or street into a place of resistance. With this background, the marches of the future will not be monotonous shouting, “whose streets, our streets” over and over and over again, because that can be both annoying and uninspiring. These marches will be creative expressions that are engaging and thought provoking built of the back of the bike fun movement.

Technology is a double-sided blade. At its best, it allows for the diffusion of power. A dude can start a blog about bikes for free and influence the city as effectively as a non-profit with a million dollar budget. What is exciting is that this power is accessible to all individuals, not just cisgender men. In the next four years we are going to see an entire half of the population, women, who have been historically left out of decision making process, organizing and participating. We will have ethnic groups and people of different backgrounds being able to participate. Marches will look less like a group of angry agro dudes dressed in black ready to scare people. Instead marches will get tweets from the police department congratulating them on how well organized and peaceful they are. Resistance by destroying stuff just is not effective right now.

I am excited for what a new generation of resistance will look like and the leaders that it will create.

After the snowstorm our new city councilor Chloe Eudaly started a Facebook chat asking what the city could have done better. She got over 83 responses and she engaged with those responders. Meanwhile, Dan Saltzman’s, who runs PBOT, only Facebook activity over the last year has been to update his cover and profile photo. Amanda Fritz might spend $350,000 “talking” to neighborhood associations about what the city is doing about homelessness but for free Chloe just engaged an entire open house of citizens about how our city can work better.

Something that needs to happen locally is the overthrow of the neighborhood association system. They are too time consuming, not representative, and have a false sense of power that destroys community and encourages reaction instead of positive action. I plan to write more on this topic later.

The other day, my wife, Kate and I were watching various Youtube stars. These stars are people who have made a living by having a somewhat popular Youtube channel about cooking, health, movies, politics, or just random thoughts. We are both very tech savvy but we realized that even our generation, folks who are 30, would not have really thought of using Youtube the same way people born 5 years before us have. The resistance of the 21st century will be led by young people because they think about new media in ways other generations just cannot. To quote a Nobel Laureate, “Your old road is rapidly agin’ Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand.” The Youtube stars are coming for you and with the speed that technology is changing that old road is aging a lot faster.

I am excited for what a new generation of resistance will look like and the leaders that it will create. I think for the first time we will have strong young female leaders from all different backgrounds. The diversity of the 21st century resistance will be its strength. What is crucial is that people in cities continue to demand that we create the public space and infrastructure for this resistance to happen. If we do not the scary dudes in black might take over.

— Read more Subscriber Posts here. Follow more of Kiel’s work and thoughts on Twitter at @go_by_bike.

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Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Saturday’s march was impressive.

Does anyone have an accurate count of participants?

Justin Miles
Guest
Justin Miles

We’ll get Dustin Hoffman right on that. I imagine with all of the marches around the country he’s running entirely on coffee at this point.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

100,000 has been widely reported

rick
Guest
rick

So many signs dumped on the side of the roads left in D.C.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I saw a fair number at the entrance to the Hawthorne Bridge this morning.

ed
Guest
ed

Yes a huge debris pile of signs, sticks etc. Yesterday I got a flat from a staple from that pile getting stuck in my tire. Ironic that a “conscientious” group for which I identify would be so thoughtless and irresponsible to leave a huge pike for others to clean up. Not our best moment.

mh
Subscriber

I felt better about being out there before I saw that. Concern for the public space we all just used?

Justin Miles
Guest
Justin Miles

It’s a shame the kind of message this sends. The right picked up on this to say that liberals don’t actually care about the environment. If there is to be a movement, there needs to be leaders to help educate people on messaging.

rick
Guest
rick

When will those marchers pick up the signs they illegally left behind?

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

Oh my! All this handwringing about garbage.

May I remind everyone to consider what would happen if you had 4 consecutive days of Blazer’s games and never cleaned up or emptied the garbage.

Sorry people are messy and sometimes thoughtless, that they have to poop and pee and exhale carbon dioxide. These are the by products of human existence. And wether or not some people are lazy and didn’t feel like packing soaked cardboard signs back home with them is beside the point and is a classic diversionary tactic to get us to stop talking about the issue at hand.

I also hear the grass was trampled in Waterfront Park. Surprised The O is not breathlessly editorializing about how horrible that is.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

to clarify: 4 Blazers games @ Moda Center = 80,000 people. Imagine the waste left by them!

rick
Guest
rick

The people in the neighborhood associations have often been the ones who have created new public space. Just check the new space by the Vista Spring Cafe; formerly overrun by awful weeds and trash, it will soon have a place to sit and view the mountains.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Protest marches are great, as are occupations of parks and public squares as was done during OWS. But alone they rarely influence those in power. ( the man, status quo, bau, etc.). Instead we must eventualy progress to true disruption in the form of General Strikes, Rent Strikes, and significant boycotts. I think when we get there, the resiliency, autonomy, independence and mass movement of the bicycle will prove an even greater advantage.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’ve already started — I’ve resolved not to stay at any Trump hotels until this mess is cleared up.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

I resolved never to stay in one before he ever even announced his candidacy.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

No? When you need a place to crash for the night, and only have $750 in your pocket, it’s not a bad choice.

Justin Miles
Guest
Justin Miles

Exactly. I hope enough people went home Saturday knowing that they have yet to accomplish anything real. People need to follow up with direct action. Even if don’t do something political, if you care about this country you should do something to make it better, like volunteer with a service agency or activism group, or donate money to charity or an organization working to advance causes that you believe in.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

Yeah, the Marches of MLK, Gandhi, and Mandella were pretty futile.And perhaps you never heard that the French Revolution started with a woman’s march.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I sincerely hope that’s not the direction we’re headed…

bah
Guest
bah

Instead of a general strike, how about a tax strike?

Anna
Guest
Anna

“Marches will look less like a group of angry agro dudes dressed in black ready to scare people. Instead marches will get tweets from the police department congratulating them on how well organized and peaceful they are. Resistance by destroying stuff just is not effective right now.”
please reflect on why the police praised the march so much, even tweeting the weather the day before. (hint thousands of white women with strollers.) seeing white women praising ourselves for being so peaceful and great and the best protest everrrrr is failing to acknowledge that everything about that police-endorsed march is a direct benefit of institutional racism. been to a black lives matter protest or any protest that properly includes people of color and gives them the platform that’s overdue to them?

i don’t know if i should bother at this point, since someone will jump in to let me know that those are riots, not protests.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Plenty of “white” protests have enjoyed a poor reception from the police. I agree the tenor in this case was positive, but I don’t think it comes down to race. Saturday’s march was not about white women with strollers — there were all kinds of people there.

Anna
Guest
Anna

you’re right, it wasn’t. the flood on social media of white ladiez being self-congratulatory was annoying. i should’ve stated that to begin with. (speaking for myself)

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Only white ladies?

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

Reading your eloquent description of how valuable Portland’s waterfront is, I was struck with frustration that is privatized and exclusive for months on end, and all the beautiful, sunny, summer months, too! I would love to join a movement to take back our waterfront! Imagine how great it would be if the City set up all the festivals on Naito instead of in the Park. We could have our cake and eat it too!

Pat
Guest
Pat

Brown person here. I saw plenty of people of color at the Portland march and in photos from marches around the world. Why are you minimizing our contributions?

I’m proud of my sisters of every color for what we accomplished yesterday, together!

Anna
Guest
Anna

intention was not to minimize YOUR contributions but to acknowledge the attitude of the white marchers in PDX was decidedly tonedeaf. i apologize. *i should correct everything to SOME BIG THINGS.

Anna
Guest
Anna

post-march. sorry, was hitting enter.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

The reason citizens got things like national health care, shorter work weeks and national pensions in the countries of europe following wwII is that the leaders were genuinly scared of the people. Not scared by violence but scared that the people had the will to shut down the country if they were ignored.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Guest
kiel johnson

I don’t think leaders were scared of people after ww2, I think things were so bad in europe it necessitated stronger welfare states. Most of the large welfare things in the USA came after big disruptive things, the depression, civil war… I hope we can find a way to make them happen without those big disruptions.

Dick Button
Guest
Dick Button

Trump did away with the TPP today. I’m. So. Conflicted.

Justin Miles
Guest
Justin Miles

Everyone was against TPP as it was so misunderstood. My understanding is that the terms of the deal would have shifted trading preference to countries with better working standards, thereby reducing the economic power of China.

Economists generally see these kind of trade agreements as being a benefit to America by lowering the cost of goods and allowing our goods to be sold more easily across borders. However most people see trade agreements and immediately think of outsourcing. The truth is we’ve lost a lot more jobs to automation than outsourcing.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The TPP also contained rules regarding intellectual property that seemed damaging to freedom. I liked free trade, but some of the things that got tacked on to the treaty were doubleplus ungood.

rick
Guest
rick

Taiwan has long subsidized metal roofing coils.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

The part about the lack ofpublic space and public transportation in Phoenix contributing to a smaller protest is very insightful. This may be one of the reasons that since WWII the establishment has favored the development of sprawling suburban type cities without significant public space like Phoenix or Houston, because they make revolts by the masses more difficult.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Do you really think “the establishment” was so organized and forward thinking?

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Could be they were just on the take from the petroleum companies and auto industry. The reduction in protest potential was just icing on the cake.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

You may be right — it is well known that cars companies are anti-park.

Whatever it was, it is clear there was some nefarious, dark force at work, rather than the ordinary weak planning and short-sighted development practices that most would suspect.

9watts
Subscriber

“Do you really think “the establishment” was so organized and forward thinking?”

I happen to know that is exactly what drove the design of college campuses after 1964: Thwart large public gatherings at every turn.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

With all due respect to Keil, as a participant in many early 2000’s Critical Mass rides, including rides leading up to and on the day the war in Iraq started in 2003, I firmly believe that, while bicycles may have a role in protests, it will not be in the form of mass rides. In the face of a much more mobile motorized police force (and particularly the motorcycle cops), large mass rides are the equivalent of the British redcoats getting mowed down marching in formation to and from the battles of Lexington and Concord – the cyclists are sitting ducks for the PPB.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Big Brother hates cyclists. Wearing Helmets and glasses they defeat facial recognition, they defeat gait recognition, and as long as we don’t have bike registration and license plates they defeat plate readers. They also defeat most road blocks and other herding techniques. Be worried when the feds intiate a visual bike recognition database in the name of theft deterence.

Live free or drive

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

When the gas is gone, that is when the cyclists will rule. Lets see the pbb motocycle cops then.

Justin Miles
Guest
Justin Miles

I think once all the gas is gone, PBB motorcycle cops will be the least of our problems.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

The PPB did a lot of practice on herding techniques in the early 2000’s and they were actually quite effective when implemented against CM-PDX. I would further argue that after other events like CM 2004 at the RNC-NYC, police departments from all over the country shared techniques for dealing effectively with mass protest rides.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Guest
kiel johnson

I agree that mass rides are not the necessarily the future, just that bicycles will play a big role in getting people to big rallies (along with transit) and that the skills learned in those mass ride can play a role in improving the rally experience, better music, grills… Also it takes a certain kind of leadership to lead a mass rally and I think you gain some of that experience when you lead a pedalpalooza ride or similar event.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

Waiting for him to declaire he is the second coming.

Justin Miles
Guest
Justin Miles

Nonsense, he’ll declare himself the first coming and say something about Jesus having ties middle-eastern organizations. Dangerous!

Austin
Guest
Austin

Tri-met did a pretty great job getting 10s of thousands of people there on saturday! I couldn’t have attended if it wasn’t for them.

Phil Richman
Subscriber

Using Biketown to navigate that crowd and congestion was the way to go. It’s a shame more people didn’t use it for the event. Kiel, I could not have written a better article and I could not be in more agreement with you about the neighborhood associations.

Justin Miles
Guest
Justin Miles

That’s a great idea. Even if you live out of the service area, it would probably be safer to park your bike in front of a business away from the demonstration and then take a nikebike in to the thick of it. #lifehacks

Lebowsky
Guest
Lebowsky

http://www.snopes.com/2017/01/22/womens-march-dumped-signs/

I am proud to have participated in the Women’s March. I find that it is men on the thread criticizing the march.

I have been involved in the bike community for a long time and have witnessed plenty of sexism in the liberal area.

Just because something doesn’t affect you personally, doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist. Check your privilege.

X
Guest
X

Really? So hard to know who’s a man sometimes. No doubt some of the haters are dudes. Let me just say that’s the best time I have had in the cold rain for a while.

The trash was a drag. I pretty much blame that on some of the Americans who were there.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Yikes! Maybe you, dear author, like handsome Dorian G, have a handy painting in your attic on which to putrefy and age, but let’s hope (otherwise) that you live to a ripe old year and can look back and laugh at statements like this:

“The resistance of the 21st century will be led by young people because they think about new media in ways other generations just cannot. To quote a Nobel Laureate, “Your old road is rapidly agin’ Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand.” The Youtube stars are coming for you and with the speed that technology is changing that old road is aging a lot faster.”

Here’s an interesting article about yootoob stardom. You might consider a career in the NBA as well, or as an astronaut.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/how-to-really-be-a-youtube-star-be-white-and-wealthy-10013760.html

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Guest
kiel johnson

interesting article, accessibility is what I think make the internet unique. I do not necessarily think youtube stars are going to lead the world in revolt, i’m just saying that younger people think about technology differently because they do not know what it is like to live without youtube.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Hi kiel–thanks for your response. I’d feel more hopeful for the future if I felt more confident the internet savvy of millennials and whatever-they’re-calling-the-even-younger-now extended beyond yootoob, instagram and other social media, generally. 😉

Citing Yootoob when discussing the technological prowess of the young is a little like citing Thomas Kinkade when discussing the merits of great art.

Painter of LIGHT!

🙂

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

It just reeks of ageism doesn’t it? Sad that people like this think older folks should just be thrown to the side. Guess what? An older person might actually have something to teach *you*.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Old fogies get too preoccupied with practical stuff. For example, they might wonder why you’d rely on platforms provided controlled by some of the biggest players in the system to operate a resistance against the system.

They might also think that the powers that be might use any one of a myriad of mechanisms to keep people from accessing internet services like youtube or twitter if it were truly disruptive.

But then again, if revolutionary communications leads to enough ad revenue and increased consumption, those in charge may not object. It’s not entirely unlike “alternative” music — a multibillion dollar industry to serve those who think mainstream music isn’t for them 😉

Caitlin D
Subscriber

I ended up biking to the east side of the Hawthorne Bridge from my home in SE and then walking the rest of the way to the march, which worked well, since the bridge sidewalks were packed full of people on foot, and I wouldn’t have been comfortable biking in the lane on the bridge.

I was amazed by how many people were walking on the bridges (mostly on Hawthorne, but also Morrison and Burnside). The Hawthorne Bridge sidewalks were full of people when I walked over at noon and continued to be packed for at least an hour afterwards. I’m glad so many march attendees chose not to drive and used their feet (or bikes/transit) instead, and I’m glad these options were available to us.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Mass demonstrations only show that you can get a lot of people to show up for something.

While the Saturday march was impressive in many respects, Flugtag attracted 86,000 just to watch people direct some home made contraptions into the Willamette.

Change only occurs when people actually do something. Shouting, youtube, and whatever doesn’t accomplish anything other than amplify a voice for awhile. Resistance only allows you to pour sand in the gears — it doesn’t actually bring anything about by itself.

I didn’t go to the march, but had I gone, I know I wouldn’t have taken my bike even though that’s how I get around. Bikes aren’t great in crowds.

I find the idea that older generations are somehow incapable of comprehending media laughable. I might suggest that the easiest people to figure out are the ones you know least about.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

I think the march illustrated just how critical and lacking the spaces and infrastructure for mass movement are even in Portland. Sure we have Waterfront Park but that is perennially under threat of redesign it seems with plans to effectively chop it up into smaller units with more programed space and less blank canvas.

TriMet was pushed to the absolute limit. What would happen if we had 200k? Would anyone dare to dream of a 200k gathering happening in Portland?

I know it is not every day we have a 100k event in DT Portland but I think cities should be planned and run to facilitate gathering and collective action when necessary if they truly are to be democratic.

It is hard to imagine such a march happening in Seattle as they have no such spaces to gather in the symbolic heart of the city.

By not providing such platforms for free, open-air, large-scale gathering we effectively limit the possibilities and scale.

Stephan
Guest
Stephan

Great article! We were thinking about biking over there with our kids but then took the bus because my mother-in-law wanted to join and she does not bike. BUT she also never takes public transit, only drives, so her being on the bus and enjoying the event was just such a great side benefit.

One comment regarding the article. You write: “Just for a minute imagine if every one of those 100,000 people who attended Portland’s Saturdays march drove by themselves. Talk about disruptive! It simply would have been impossible.”

I was thinking today — aren’t 100,000 people coming to Portland’s downtown every day, and most of them drive? How is it that we think driving to such an event would have been impossible with cars but when it comes to daily commuting, we think that it should be normal to accommodate cars?