March On Harrisburg’s Action Toolkit
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Step One: Choose Your Text
Citizen billboarding is a very effective way to raise attention in your district and to generate pressure on your Legislators. The idea is simple: We hold light and inexpensive billboards at major intersections that direct constituents to a website where they are instructed to call their Legislators.
Here is how it’s done:
Step 1 – Choose your text:
- Are you pressuring a Representative or a Senator? Choose Rep. or Sen. followed by their last name.
- Are you highlighting the gift ban or the gerrymandering bill? Choose giftban.org or HB722.org
Here is the text for the following 5 signs:
| ASK REP. | | TURZAI TO | | PASS THE | | GIFT BAN | | GIFTBAN.ORG |
You can also add on more signs and take on the gift ban and fair districts at the same time!
Step Two: Build Your Sign
The signs are 2 x 4 feet painted on insulation board. (Owens Corning FOAMULAR 1/2 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. Squared Edge Insulating Sheathing). Boards come in 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheets and have to be carefully cut. Before cutting, remove the transparent plastic layer on the side to be painted. The best way to get a clean cut is to use a very thin blade that is longer than the board is thick (example) and use a firmly secured straight edge as a guide. Spring clamps are the easiest way to secure the straight edge to the board while cutting. This is the easiest straight edge to use. You can probably do a pretty good job with the tools you already have, the ones noted here make it easier and quicker. In order to get the boards in my car, I cut the boards to size in the parking lot of the Home Depot, using the large flat shopping carts as a table. Cost of materials per sign is about $3.25.
White background is two coats of Kilz 2 applied with roller. Readable at 300+ feet. At 50 mph, it would be readable from a car for 3-4 seconds.
Lettering is 10 inches tall – standard STOP sign height. Font is Ostrich Sans HERE, printed at 104% size.
After trying different methods, this is the current method of painting signs:
- Print letters on printer paper
- Staple letters to manila folder
- Cut out letters to produce manila folder thickness letters
- Cut 4ft. X 2 ft. piece of roofing paper from a roll of #30 Felt Roof Deck Paper
- Arrange and space the cut-out letters on roofing paper
- Trace letters with pencil
- Using a ruler cut letters out of the roofing paper so that the negative of the letters remain, making one big stencil.
(Note: If you are only making one sign there is no need to cut a stencil. Just cut out the letters on the manila folder material, line them up straight, eyeball them for spacing, and trace them. The advantage of using a stencil is for quick mass production).
Paint Letters: (see this video)
- Line up 4ft. X 2 ft. stencil on top of 4ft. X 2 ft. pre-painted white board.
- Trace letters with blue or red Sharpie Chisel Tip marker using the wide tip to make the widest border lines possible.
- Fill-in letters blue letters by hand painting inside the lines you made with the marker using Sherwin Williams Honorable Blue 6811 . (This is the color that best matches the Sharpie blue. This allow us to make solid looking letters without fussing around with painting the edges cleanly. The blue in the picture is not the final color. Final color is more toward the purple.) Use the red paint (Behr Paints, Flirt Alert P150-7) for the legislator’s name and (on sign #4) “GIFT BAN”.
- Let paint dry.
- Re-paint for more solid color.
- Touch up with white Kilz 2, if necessary.
(The signs showing the webpage (example: GiftBan.Org) should have the web address on both sides. The person holding that sign does not need to stand “in a sentence” like the others but can roam around showing both sides of the sign to traffic in every direction.)
It is possible to connect two signs together by use of these channel pieces. They come in 12 ft. lengths. Cut them into 3 4 ft. pieces, trim off the sharp corners, lightly file the edges off so nobody gets cut. You will need metal snips to cut them. You can then attach one channel on the top of the two signs and one on the bottom. Some white duct tape applied, mostly on the back of the signs will secure them. This is a good way to do billboards when your crew is a person or two short of having one person for each sign. But, some days it is just too windy to use this method.
Step Three: Finding the right place, time, and details for citizen billboarding
- Location of event: The best location is one with a lot of traffic, traffic that consists mostly of constituents, and longish stop lights. Set up your crew at an intersection that is busy from all directions. Drivers should pull up to a red light and look to their left and have a clear view of the billboard. That is your best audience. Traffic coming from other directions may also see the signs but you will have trouble letting everyone see them. If you have extra people, have them hold the website sign (example: GiftBan.Org) which, unlike the other signs, should be double-sided) so that even traffic that can’t see the main message can see the website address and be able to look it up.
- Time of event: Busy traffic time is best. Rush hour can be good. Saturdays, near shopping areas, can be good. Be mindful of the density of constituents among the traffic. If rush hour includes a lot of people just passing through, it might be better to do a Saturday even if that would mean fewer cars but more local people.
- Duration of event: One hour seems to be about right. Make the point that, because this is a team sport, it is important that people be ready to do it right on time. Also, stop the event exactly at the hour advertised, even if you start late. You want people to feel confident that they can come and do the event and then get on with their day.
- Getting Citizens for the Citizen Billboard Event: Reach out to a MOH organizer (or email Michael@MarchOnHarrisburg.org) for list of volunteers in your area – not necessarily in the district of the targeted legislator. Go to other demonstrations (Tuesdays with Toomey, Wednesdays without Rothfus), talk to the leadership there, meet the people, ask if you can make a pitch to everyone about this project. Contact Indivisible, Grassroots, other meetings and make a presentation. Call on personal connections that you think might be interested. Use social media. Contact people who you have done other political activities with in the past. Try to get a long list of people who are, at least in theory, willing to participate. Then pick a time, date, and place and email the list. Once the list gets long enough, even if only a small percentage of people can make a particular event, you should have enough.
- How many people? Minimum is 3 people. Maximum is how ever many signs you have. I suggest making extra signs with the web address on both sides. If you have extra people but not enough people or another set of signs to put a crew on another corner at the intersection, the extra people can use these web address signs anywhere around the intersection. If you have only 3 people, that means that two people will hold double signs which can be tricky on a windy day. It is worth noting that holding even one sign can be a wrestling match in the wind. I would not hesitate to cancel if it is a cold rain or super windy. We want this to be a fun and social event, some days are just too nasty. Sometimes I ask people to rotate positions after half an hour so that they get to talk to new people while holding the signs.
If you have any questions or comments, please email Frank Kirkwood email@example.com.