About the Event
SignStorm was an art installation intended as a peaceful act of resistance, a silent rally with signs instead of people.
On “Not My President’s Day” weekend, protest signs both new and used were laid out, flat, in the Circle of Palms Plaza next to the San Jose Museum of Art.
The purpose of this project was to provide an opportunity for everyone, regardless of their physical limits, to publicly express feelings about Trump as our president, our concerns about his chosen cabinet and administration, and fears for the resulting future of this country and our world.
Circle of Palms Plaza next to the San Jose Museum of Art.
- Press release: https://www.signstormsj.com/press-release
1) What was your intent behind organizing protests for Presidents’ Day?
Leah Jay: I had the idea for SignStorm (a collection of protest signs presented as an art installation) back in December 2016. I felt I needed to give people a way to express themselves and take some kind of action other than calling their congressperson and signing online petitions.
2) What were the key elements to organizing your community for these protests?
Jay: Facebook has become the main organizing method among most people I know, so I used it. I placed a Facebook ad, and created a Facebook event. I also shared the event to several resistance-oriented groups.
3) What is driving people in your community to participate in these demonstrations?
Jay: Since the Trump election, nobody I know has felt comfortable with doing nothing.
4) What were especially memorable/powerful moments at the Presidents’ Day protests for you?
Jay: Before SignStorm, I had a sign-making party for it. The best part for me was making signs there and meeting new people.
5) Were the goals of these protests accomplished? Why or why not?
Jay: The goal of the protests was twofold: First to give people an outlet (accomplished!), and second was to get the signs documented and shared with others. I feel that there is a lot of power in visuals.
6) Protests like Not My President’s Day and the Women’s March are the first time many people have participated in civil disobedience. Every day there is another call to action, so how are you and your fellow activists preventing “protest fatigue”?
Jay: We aren’t. I think the going advice being taken is to take plenty of breaks. The saying goes “Activism is a marathon, not a sprint.”
7) If this was your first time organizing a protest, what have you learned from this experience?
Jay: I’ve learned to stay focused, but let go of an exact result. I had goals for a certain number of signs, laid out in a certain way in a public plaza, but weather had other ideas, so my team and I had to move quickly to a portico next to the Museum. I also kept the signs as they were without selecting or editing them. If I had been a “control freak” about it, things wouldn’t have worked.
8) What’s the most valuable lesson you would pass on to others looking to mobilize acts of resistance in their communities?
Jay: Stay open, stay flexible. Communicate clearly what you want to do, but accept assistance and input.
9) Has there been communication with organizers from other protest movements (A Day Without Immigrants, Women’s March, Black Lives Matter, etc.)? If so, how did that inform your organizing? If not, do you feel such an interaction would have been useful to you? Why or why not?
Jay: I used other groups on Facebook for outreach, and they were kind enough to let me do so. I feel this was important to recruit enough signs for the project.
10) What’s next for you and/or your organization?
Jay: I would like to design a “SignStorm Toolkit” to be used by other individuals and organizations, to hold more SignStorms of their own.
- Pages 13 and 14 in Metro Silicon Valley, Vol. 33
- For more event photos see: https://www.signstormsj.com/extras