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Re: [carfree_cities] US/OT "Our Cars, Ourselves"

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  • Jym Dyer
    =v= San Francisco Critical Mass traditionally visits this auto show in November. Generally it coincides with Buy Nothing Day. SFCM originally rode the last
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 13, 2004
      =v= San Francisco Critical Mass traditionally visits this auto
      show in November. Generally it coincides with Buy Nothing Day.
      SFCM originally rode "the last working Friday of the month,"
      which caused some confusion and led to the first auto show ride
      being the first "mini-mass." I have an account of this below.

      Thanksgiving Mini-Mass
      by Katherine Roberts

      On Friday, Nov. 26th, a group of about 20 cyclists gathered
      at 5:30 at Justin Herman Plaza for the "Thanksgiving
      Mini-Mass". Ostensibly, our reason for being there was to
      tell whoever showed up that the real Critical Mass had
      happened as planned on Friday, Nov. 19th. We were worried
      that alot of people might have gotten confused about the
      Mass being held on the 3rd, rather than last, Friday of the
      month. Actually, Critical Mass always happens on the last
      working Friday; it's just that most of the time, that's also
      the last Friday. But because of the holidays, things ware
      switched around. So, in anticipation of hundreds of
      confused wanna-be Massers flocking to the Embarcadero in
      search of a Mass that didn't exist, we appointed ourselves
      as the ad hoc rescue committee to guide their souls in the
      right direction and, who knows, maybe create a little Mass
      of our own. As it turned out, our concerns were completely
      unfounded, and aside from a group of three people who rode
      up wondering where all the other bicyclists were, the ad hoc
      committee were pretty much the only people on the ride. But
      we still had a wonderful time, just on a smaller scale.

      In fact, "small" became a kind of theme of the ride. The
      idea was to go down to the huge auto show at Moscone Center
      and pass out small plastic cars to all the people who were
      drooling over all the latest pieces of machinery there. A
      far more practical and satisfying choice than spending all
      that money on new wheels, we figured. But Chris Carlsson
      went down to Toys 'R Us earlier that afternoon and found
      their toy car selection to be, well, small. So there we
      were, wondering what the next plan would be, when another
      cyclist, Glenn Bachmann, rode up with a big bag filled with
      really fancy metal toy race cars and hot rods in all
      different colors. We all grabbed a handful and rode off to
      Moscone Center. When we got there, we rode around out in
      front for a while, then started handing out toy cars to
      people and telling them, now you don't need to buy a new
      car. It was great street theatre, and some interesting
      conversations ensued. I was talking to one man who was
      worried about what's going to happen when the oil reserves
      run out, and what kind of world we are leaving for our
      children, when I looked up and noticed that all the other
      bicyclists had left without me! But I knew that the plan
      was to meet at Zeitgeist, so I went there and waited for
      everybody. They had gone to the traffic turnaround at 9th
      and Townsend, to ride around in a few circles before heading
      to the bar. After more spirited discussion in Zeitgeist's
      "bike-friendly" outdoor garden, the group split up.

      The next night I went to see the Noam Chomsky movie,
      "Manufacturing Consent," at the Red Vic Movie House. The
      film was about how the media try to shape our perceptions of
      the world, and how small groups of dissidents refuse to go
      along with the prevailing notions of truth. Chomsky said
      that these populist, grass-roots movements, which have gone
      on all through history, are the only way real change occurs
      in a society. and that, although the media love to focus
      on individuals, no one really acts alone. He said, of
      course Martin Luther King was important, but he could not
      have done what he did without thousands of people behind
      him. Strong leadership is not nearly as essential as people
      coming together to make their visions known and their voices
      heard. The message was clear: never underestimate the power
      of a groundswell. I was struck by how closely the bike
      movement fit his definition of a classic grass-roots
      movement: we have an unusual stance, a formidable opponent,
      and lots of spontaneous, anarchistic qualities. And we are
      gathering momentum as we go along. The film affirmed my
      belief that groups of like-minded individuals can effect
      changes in the dominant point of view, and that big things
      often start small.

      Boycott Compulsory Consumption:

      Ignore the ads below, for starters.
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