Backbone Campaign

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Jeanne —
Things have been hopping at Backbone this month, from a creative tactics training for community based organizations in Southern California to supporting multi-city actions on Impeachment and climate, to Solutionary Rail momentum. Here are some highlights:

Training in Creative Tactics for EJ Activists in the Inland Empire

Backbone ED Bill Moyer showed ways to broadcast big effective messages to those fighting diesel pollution in their community.  Water-based tactics including kayaktivism, banners, LEDs, light projection, and campaign messaging/design were all covered for Latinx communities fighting toxic black carbon emissions and other harmful impacts of diesel pollution. Check out the photos HERE. Does your community-based organization want to learn these techniques?  Contact us today.

Impeachment Projections, Climate Strike, and more

Climate Strike – Projections happened in multiple cities for the December Climate Strike. Sunrise Movement in Tacoma used the lifesize Tahlequah orca and giant salmon to connect the dots between species extinction and climate.

Impeachment – A new projectionist in our network, based in Milwaukee, shined the message “Nobody is Above the Law” on Senator Ron Johnson’s office building, as noted on the Rachel Maddow Show.  Click on the image below to watch Maddow’s enthusiastic recap of the night.

Impeachment Eve actions Backbone supported were in Seattle, Kitsap Peninsula, Vashon, Bellingham, Berkeley, and other cities in our growing Solidarity Brigade Network. Do you want to bring light projection and bannering to your city or town?  Contact us today to get set up!

Next month, we’ll debut our new “Declare a Climate Emergency” Banner to support Protectors of the Salish Sea bird dogging of Wa State Governor Jay Inslee, (aka “the climate candidate”), beseeching him to declare a climate emergency now!

Keep This Creative Activism Growing

Backbone is grateful for the opportunity to support so many actions and groups across the country and it is thanks to our donors, volunteers, Lumbar Club members, and artists that we make the movement beautiful! We are all in this together.

Single Payer Action – #KeepPhilAlive

Backbone’s lead projectionist Phil Ateto is fighting to stay alive. His insurance company, CareFirst, is condemning him to die by denying him access to the medicine his doctor requested. We are fighting back with all the creative tools in our toolbelt.  Last week Phil did light projection on the CareFirst building in Baltimore.

And of course, this is only the beginning …. On January 6th we’ll host a rally and press event at the building entrance.

Learn more about the personal impacts of CareFirst’s Death Panel decision-making

Chip in to Phil’s medical expenses, specifically the cost of the drug the insurance company is denying:

Check back often to the Backbone Campaign Facebook Events Page for updates on the Jan 6th action.

Solutionary Rail Update

Last month we submitted recommendations to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, demonstrating that an effort to tackle greenhouse gas emissions is best done by utilizing railroads and their corridors.  This led to additional research by our team on a 2030 Moonshot Modeshift, and we just finished a Supplemental Brief for the Select Committee.

Some of our findings include:

For every instance that we transport people or goods on a road – rather than a track – we multiply the amount of energy that needs to be produced by 3-4 times. Mode shifting freight and people to tracks is absolutely CENTRAL to a just transition. The impact of failing to center this aspect is that we are creating a plan that dramatically slows our capacity to decarbonize. We ignore the efficiency of rail at our peril.

The benefits of transferring freight moving over 500 miles off trucks and onto trains (as well as some shorter trips): 

  • fuel consumption reductions (10-20+ billion gallons of diesel)
  • GHG emission reductions (10-20+ million metric tons of CO2)
  • environmental justice impacts (thousands of lives saved and millions of lives improved through diesel emission reductions)
  • thousands of lives saved from reduced traffic accidents involving large trucks
  • 10s of $billions of dollars saved through reduction of congestion
  • $100s of billions of dollars saved on road and bridge wear and tear

SR Lead Volunteer Mary Paterson recently completed the 7th RailBite, “Electrified Rail & Mode Shift Means Better Health for Trackside Communities”.  Please read, download, and share this essential information with your federal and state policymakers. (Thank you, Mary!)

You can read all the RailBites, bite-sized pieces of information on the benefits of rail electrification and the Solutionary Rail vision.

Check out our “Solutionary Perspectives” podcast page, with interviews recently with NASA climate scientist Nathan Kurtz talking about changes in ice levels at both poles, with Angelo Logan and Andrea Vidaurre on the impacts of freight on trackside communities, and with Lorette Picciano, Executive Director of the Rural Coalition and Amanda Brozana-Rios, of the National Grange, on Rural Communities’ needs for revitalized rail.

If you want to help Solutionary Rail get ready for 2020 – a pivotal year in so many ways – please make a tax-deductible contribution here:

Local Events

Backbone recently celebrated its 16th birthday party at the Coop.  Over 75 supporters came by to toast our 16 years (and 16 more!), reflect on the urgency to stop polarization, listen to some great tunes, and share delicious food.  Thanks to everyone in our Vashon community and beyond, who has helped build this creative project, from its official launch in December 2003 to today.

In 2020, Backbone Meaningful Movies presents a monthly film series, January – June on Vashon Island.  We hope you’ll mark your calendar and plan to join us at Vashon Theatre, 6pm; admission is free – donations gratefully accepted at the door.

Tuesday, January 28th – Soundtrack for a Revolution, followed by performance/sing-a-long with Vashon’s Free Range Folk Choir

Tuesday, February 11th – Blindspotting

Tuesday, March 10th  – Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins

Tuesday, April 28th – The Great American Lie

Tuesday, May 12th – Honeyland

Tuesday, June 9th – The Wild – a sequel to The Breach, asks “How will you save what you love?”

Backbone Campaign is grateful to Island GreenTech and Vashon Theatre for their generous support that makes this film series in our home community happen.  We hope you will join us!


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* Thank YOU for supporting the Backbone Campaign located in Vashon, WA. Backbone Campaign is registered with Washington State’s Charities Program as required by law and additional information is available by calling 800-332-4483 or visiting

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