As we have been told a hundred times over, this is the age of social media. Norwich campaigner Sam Avery described it as ‘essential’ to his campaign. A strong online following can translate into signatures, donations, merchandise sales and physical support at key events and protests. The Black Blocks Campaign describe it as their ‘amplifier’. ‘Skateboarders worldwide look out for each other… with Instagram and Facebook, you can push (it) from a local issue into an international issue.’
Different platforms reach different audiences so try and use as many as manageable. Create posts that tackle the issue, and convey the sense of space, the people and the history. People want to understand and identify with the cause and the people it affects. Most of all, gather attention by being as creative with your posts as possible.
Contacting the Right People
There is a far broader spectrum of people to contact than you would imagine at first. Here is a taste: the press (national, local, skate magazines and specialists publications including both campaign and town planning orientated), politicians from the level of local councillors right up to senior politicians whose remit is communities and culture focused. Also, engage with the body that wishes to oust skateboarding and try and find someone there to negotiate with. Contact all organisations it is beholden to (including its funders, its board and its landowners), other campaigning organisations, especially those concerned with free public space, as many interested influential people as possible, as many people in the skateboarding industry and community as possible and, of course, the general public.
»Support can be found in unlikely places«
Getting to speak directly to the decision makers and the person or people who can make the call to stop or reverse the redevelopment or ban as quickly as possible is key. Don’t get caught up in lengthy back and forth dialogue with anyone who cannot make or influence final decisions.
The Save Black Blocks campaign did an exceptionally good job at getting the message to the right people in a pressured time frame, as Andrew explained. ‘We had contacts at Thrasher and the local news… From there, we kicked off the fundraiser, which was a fantastic way to spread word of the spot’s demise while covering overhead costs. With the basic social media network set up, we were able to corral followers into letting their disappointment be known on the proper officials’ emails and public Facebook pages via short, respectful messages.’
Support can be found in unlikely places. Amanda spoke of the importance in finding that ‘sympathetic voice on the local council, who can alert you to the mechanics’. LLSB actively sought out and received strong support from a wide variety of organisations; architectural, cultural, artistic, local businesses and community groups. Having allies and supporters as far and wide across society as possible will help build a wide network that could approach the issue from multiple angles.