Global Night Commuters
It's after 2AM. I'm posting this from the parking lot of Ann Arbor City Hall. There are seven hundred of us here, most wrapped in sleeping bags for warmth. We are one small group of global night commuters. A group of some sixty thousand total across the US. Despite the cold air, spirits are high. Those that have not already succumbed to sleep are clustered in small groups chatting loudly, laughing, and snacking on pizza. The Global Night Commute doesn't feel like your typical protest/rally/demonstration. Sure it had some good old standbys; Home made signage proclaiming short slogans in bright marker, impromptu drumming jam sessions, a charismatic leader standing on high rallying the troops with a bullhorn.
The differences are far greater than the similarities. Everyone here seems to know exactly what the Global Night Commute is all about. There aren't any hangers on or fair weather participants. Sleeping out of doors on a forty degree night requires a certain dedication to the cause. The demographics here run the gambit, whole families with their four and six year old children, high schoolers, University students, grandmothers, suit and tie professional types. The Commute is more than just sleeping in public to raise awareness. Everyone is writing their Senator, the President, or both. Tomorrow tens of thousands of letters will be making their way to capital hill. Each with the purpose of making the Invisble Children visible to the world.
Technology is abundant. I am by no means the only person here clacking away on a laptop. I've seen more than one glowing white apple framed in titanium. Ipods and other portamedia abound. There are more digital cameras than I can count. No doubt by this time tomorrow flickr and myspace will receive a deluge of shots of smiling people packed in like sardines in parking lots all over America. (The WiFi here is spotty at best so you'll have to wait until tomorrow for the Memepunks flickr photo stream, and other multimedia goodness.)
The final difference, the one that sits with me the most as I struggle with a beeping battery and uncooperative WiFi to get this post up, is where these people came from. Of just how many people are here because of the Internet. Everyone we heard from had mentioned catching the Invisible Children site online, seeing a blurb someplace on the net, or the film makers clever online mockumentary, and zeroing in on the event from there. Global Night Commute is a Flash Mob with a soul.
From the packet handed out to all of the participants by the organizers; "Invisible Children has not relied on the mass media to tell you of the 'Worst humanitarian crisis in the world.' Instead we've been in your living rooms, fraternity houses, Bible studies, MySpaces, coffee shops, and in the halls of the most powerful government in the world. No generation before us has has had access to technology the way we do. With the invaluable resources of the underground, we all have the responsibility to tell stories that change minds and liberate cultures."
Thats what I'm talking about. Memepunks hopes we've done this particular story some justice.
Previous Memepunks Post on Invisible Children. Stay tuned for video!
Memepunks Update: Our Flickr Stream is up! Enjoy the pictures.
Let me sleep on it, and I'll give you an answer in the morning. - Meatloaf