When: Friday, August 10, 2007
It all started in the basement of the AID house where we have our CSH on Aug 4th. Somu had requested a slot to discuss the upcoming Bhopal protest we were to do on Friday Aug 10th. He began by discussing briefly the background on the latest events in Bhopal and the hurried 'out-of-court' settlement with Dow Chemicals which the government officials are trying to push.
\One of the ideas that had been\nfloating around for a while (esp after the US Social Forum Anti Coke\nprotest) was to make a HUGE attractive banner. We needed to get a white\ncloth on which we decided to…… paint? No! We had no time for that and\nnot many were willing to experiment with their painting skills. We\ncould get Kinkos to print the slogan for us. But how much does it\ncost?How about getting a red colour satin ribbon and making the letters\nand pasting them on the white banner?
One of the ideas that had been floating around for a while (esp after the US Social Forum Anti Coke protest) was to make a HUGE attractive banner. So we began discussing how.
The idea was to put up the slogan "Indian Government, Don't sell India for Dow" on a 12ft by 6 ft banner.
Then Kiran said "Hey guys! Let us start calling kinkos and find out how much it costs to print such a huge banner. " So things started moving and once we figured that we actually needed to make the banner ourselves, Somu, Prithvi and I left to get a huge white cloth and also red clth to make the letters. We got some cloth sticking glue and came back fully charged to the AID house. We started making measurements and decisions on where the pictures should go and what should be the letter size and how much space there should be between the sentences and so on. Ravi's sense of humour was at its best and it was a lot of work and a lot of fun that day.
Ravi, Kiran, Prithvi, Satish, Arun and Somu figured how to hold up such a big banner and Prithvi's ideas and direction kept it straight up ( of course with nothing on the banner! We had to make sure the banner stood well!!). So here is what was done----Camp tent holders where used as banner holders and strings attached at the right positions to make it stand upright and straight!
Once we knew the idea was going to click we got to work and two more of our super volunteers Harpreet and Ruby joined us. Ruby expertly cut the red cloth to make the letters while Harpreet stapled the sides of the banner to put the tent holder through. Prithvi measured perfectly the spaces to stick the letters. Once the letters were ready Arun, Somu and I pasted them on the white banner, Kiran was the director telling us whether the letters were too closely crowded etc There was also a lot of debate( totally hilarious) on which colors should be used to make the letters- black and red or just red or just black!
Well have I given you the impression that we got all this done in an hour? We started at 6:00 PM and completed by around 2 AM in the night with a great dinner break and ample jokes and humor from everybody. The whole experience was great. At the end of it we had a very good banner ready for the protest as well had a good time together making it.
The protest did go off very well considering it was a week day. Lot of our volunteers joined the protest and Kamlesh, a West Virginia volunteer as well as Abhishek from Florida joined us too. We were totally around 15 people and we assembled in front of the embassy at around 4 PM and got the banner ready to stand upright and it DID get us the attention we wanted. Everyone stpped to look at it and therefore also listen to what we were saying in the form of slogans and the flier which Somu had put together. Several people in the cars stooped to get a look at the banner and also stopped and honked or took fliers. We also made a garland of the zero rupee notes and shouted slogans as loudly as we could and Prithvi made sure the banner was always straight and perfect. Aravinda came up with very good slogans and we also got the TV Asia to cover the protest. So all in all it was a good protest with great participation from ALL the volunteers and it was a great experience for the first timers too.
We need to keep thinking of novel and interesting ways to protest and get people to think and voice effectively what we believe in. This was one such an experience of the AID- MD volunteers.So chapters, How are YOU going to support our partners? ----------------------------------Video & Report: http://aidindia.org/main/content/view/489/1/Pics: http://gallery.aidindia.org/gallery/gallery2/v/AID+Chapters/Maryland/Rallies/bhopal_10aug07