Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Friday, March 31, 2006

March on Los Angeles

Last weekend, downtown Los Angeles saw approximately 500,000 people converge on the city hall to protest HR 4437, a bill related to illegal immigration which would have the effect of criminalizing virtually all forms of assistance to undocumented workers, while also making residency without documentation a felony.

If we take the estimate of 3.8 million Angelenos as accurate, that's one out of eight people involved in the (largely peaceful) march. I'm almost ashamed to say that i didn't hear about it until i saw the front page photo on the LA Times Saturday morning, with a throng of people surrounding some official-looking buildings.

In email conversation the next day, a friend mentioned that she'd heard about it via 96.3, the local reggaeton station; the Times printed a piece Tuesday crediting the organizers, including all the local spanish-language radio DJs who'd been urging people to come out and take part. My professor tonight for an urban mission course lives in the Westlake/Pico-Union neighborhood with a team from InnerChange. She also took part in the peace march, and shared the story in class today, as this was a macroissue that hit home on the ground level.

Monday morning, I flipped on the tele and saw coverage of student walkouts in south Los Angeles, which received both print and televised coverage. This one wasn't professionally organized or publicized through major media outlets, but word spread via fliers, email, text messages, phone calls, and MySpace. Granted, some of them just wanted out of class (as was confirmed in a visit to a local junior high the next day), but the general awareness and decision to act impressed me; i wouldn't have expected as much (and probably wouldn't have done so myself during the high school years).

The thought that started swirling around my head concerns the role and impact of different mediums across society. Granted, my pedestrian status has shaped my perception of radio's impact, as has my general leaning towards newer technologies over TV and radio. But the thought is this: anglos in LA are not very likely to pay heed to DJs and other voices on the radio, yet among latinos in the area, radio shows are a major channel of influence, and have a say in the public square.

Anyone up for confirming, denying, or nuancing this? I'd wager that there's a negative correlation between wired-ness and regular use of radio as a medium for receiving information, and I'm also hunching that the rise of the iPod has made it easier for commuters, particularly of the affluent sort, to tune out and get information and activation from elsewhere.

Similarly, the use of MySpace as an organizing tool made it onto NPR. The whole 'social networking site' phenomenon also skews towards the younger generation, and i'm curious as to how well-known it is among those past 35, and whether the potential of these sites for community organizing is much of a known entity, or if they're just seen as 'another one of THOSE sites.'

That to say, word spreads and influence is dispersed in very different fashions among populations from different age groups, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic spheres.
As one who is excited by the possibilities of organizing and coordinating people to mobilize, i must say that the horizons expanded this weekend, while life got a bit more complicated. This weekend's events reminded me to pay attention to societal elements which slip off my radar, yet have clout in ways that WMAs such as myself may not see.

Related literary commendations: Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point and Robert Linthicum's Transforming Power

(link/photo cribbed from Gathering in Light, recently redesigned and looking fabulous.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

So that was March...

Busy month, and the virtual notebook was replaced by hard copy in the push through exams. Really enjoyed my classes, particularly global evangelical movement, and wrote my final paper on the phenomenon of Christian fundamentalism in America. I examined the theological underpinnings which allowed the fundamentalists to pack their bags and leave the denominations in the early 20th century, as well as their survival and re-emergence as major players in America, years after I'd have expected them to go the way of the dinosaur. Fascinating, and i hope to take a course on globalization with the same professor (a native of Sierra Leone and Edinburgh PhD) later this year.

Three more days of spring break, which equates to taxes, painting, and some good times. The first two come tomorrow, as will an hour of answering phones. When that's my job, the 'Not Safe For Work' category expands to include sites like this. Endless parade of photoshopped movie posters equates to holding back laughter while taking calls, which is quite amusing, if somewhat (no, make that 'incredibly') awkward.

Oh well, snakes on a plane...