Freewayblogging workshop

From Bwtm

The workshop was a lot of fun. You'll find everything you need to know to do it on your own!

daily blog flickr sets

We're going to have a freewayblogging workshop
Saturday, May 6, 2006, 10:00am to noon
at Activist San Diego, 4246 Wightman St in City Heights.


But you don't have to wait

I have posted over a hundred 250 666 times. I've done many always solo. Having a driver is a great help, have everything ready to go and you can hop out of the car, post, and hop back in.

Here's some strategy tips I use:

1) Use wire to tie blogs to the fence. Get the wire from the dumpsters or buy "tie wire" at hardware store. Use a box or little step stool and tie (twist) the wire at the top as high as possible to slow down those tearing down posts (kids mostly).

2) Over passes are great. Look at existing signs to see how big your letters need to be. 8inch will work; try it out and if it doesn't look good, try again. post just before rush hour

3) Side fences are great. Put the blog near a sign (like the one by the Lake Jennings sign); drivers will look over at that sign and see your blog. I've had some last over 30days.

4) Are you near the Coaster or trolley? blog a fence along the tracks.

Number 1: be careful out there!

If you would like to get together and paint and post, let me know.



how i spent my summer vacation

The Extraterrestrial Highway
The Extraterrestrial Highway
I went on a vacation this year to Nevada and Utah. I wanted to freewayblog and to try out a couple new ideas. see flickr set

I flew to Reno. I took with me three paint brushes: 1inch, 1 1/2inch, and 2inch. I also took my hammer stapler (Arrow HT50) in my check in luggage.

There was a Frazee Paint store just down Kietzke Ln from the airport. I went there and bought a quart of white paint for $1.00, they called it dump paint and they had a huge pile of it. This was one of the ideas I wanted to try out: white letters on plain brown cardboard. I noticed that many highway signs are white on either green or brown so why not white on tan?

The next morning I cruised down Kietzke Ln again and did some dumpster diving for cardboard. I got some good pieces behind a furniture store but then made a real score behind a mall. there was a big pile of boxes, nicely flattened out and stacked up; I grabbed five or six. I had a new Dodge Caliber rental and all the cardboard fit in nicely with the rear seat folded down. My knife was really dull so I stopped at a truck stop to buy a box cutter. They didn’t have any out for sale but a worker there gave me one from the back.

I was loaded up and ready to blog. I headed east on Highway 50, the loneliest road.

painting signs
painting signs
I drove east for about an hour and then pulled off on a side road to a deserted parking area. I cut up the big furniture boxes and painted 10 signs. I painted IMPEACH and PEACE freehand, keep it simple. I posted one on the wooden top rail of a fence with the hammer stapler.

I stopped at a ranch/hardware store in a small town and bought a roll of tie wire for $1.99 and some spare blades for the box cutter. Later I stopped at a thrift store and got a load of wire hangers, I had to force the lady there to take a dollar donation, they had a huge stock of old wire hangers which work great for tying signs to fences.

I had also brought with me a digital camera that I had bought for $19.99. It came with a cable and software to download the pictures; worked great on both my pc and my mac. The pictures are kind of grainy and you get some light flares.
nice and grainy and flares
nice and grainy and flares

The viewfinder is kind of off so sometimes the bottom of the picture gets cut off. I posted a lot on two lane roads so I just stepped back and snapped a shot. I tried to get a picture of each post; some came out great, some came out so-so.

That night I took some of the cardboard into the motel room and cut up and painted 20 signs. The paint dried fast and I used a trash bag as a drop cloth. I just painted freehand: IMPEACH, BUSH LIES, LIAR. Simple. I reversed the b in bush so that the sign can’t be hijacked, there’s always something wrong about Bush! I loaded them up in the car; it was easy to grab one and a piece of wire or the hammer stapler and post ‘em up.

When I ran low on signs I would find an out of the way spot and have a painting party. I kept it simple. The boxes from the mall made two big IMPEACH signs and the flaps made four smaller IMPEACH and two LIAR and a BUSH LIES. Altogether I painted and posted 79 signs (I counted BUSH LIES as one post).

positive response from big rig
positive response from big rig
I uploaded the pics to a free Flickr account at This was very easy to do, worked great on the mac and when I got home it worked great with the pc too. I ‘tagged’ the pics with: impeach, bush, freewayblog and peace. It’s interesting to look at all the other pictures people have posted.

I was pretty covert posting these signs but did get two positive responses from big rig drivers, one positive from a UPS driver and a couple of positive from cars. Never had any negative response but as I say I was pretty discrete. I was in Wells, NV for three nights and many of the blogs stayed up the whole time; the ones right at the entrance ramp lasted two days and I hit them again on my way out of town.

So, I had a lot of fun doing this. I liked being out in the middle of nowhere painting signs. The white on tan worked fine. The 20buck camera and uploading to flickr worked good too: take a look.



be careful. have fun.

Stay off the freeway itself. Post signs on the outside of the fence. Don't stop on freeway shoulders. Watch out for cars. Don't run with sissors.

Wear a hat (but one that won't blow off in the wind or if you have to run). Be discrete and observent, watch out for trouble and avoid it. Dress discretely (leave the IMPEACH! t-shirt at home).

If you get challenged say that you were just taking it down.



impeach; the war is a lie; more

reading the news and web sites for ideas

e-mail lists

how to:

classic: cardboard mining, white paint, black paint, brushes, projector



The advantages of classic cardboard blogging are:

  1. cheap
  2. fast
  3. easy
  4. flexible

Use latex and acrylic paint, buy miss-mixed paint at the paint store. Buy acrylic paint on sale at art supply stores. I use a brush to slap the white paint on the cardboard, set up a production line and plan ahead where to lean each piece to dry. Do the small ones first then the taller ones can be leaned over the smaller without getting stuck to the fresh paint. Spread out the paint good; saves paint and dries faster. Set up some kind of an easel to hold each piece and project the slogan on it; I just paint the letters while projecting, no tracing. Use a brush almost as wide as the letters. Spread out the paint to save paint and so it dries faster.

Large signs can be folded or rolled up to carry them.

it's fun, it's easy! I just painted this cardboard, 4 nice big ones and 7 good sized ones. The stack on the floor I cut up from some white boxes I found, they'll make great side fence signs, 16 of those. I had the paint, I did it one piece at a time and it didn't cost me a dime! Took about 1 hour and I had to clean up the garage some first!

Spread the paint out good and it dries fast!

duct tape and foam core

posting: bungy cords and tie wire, step stool

cluster blogging

typical cluster blog

Print out stickers or hand letter slogans with a marker. I like to put the First Amendment on there.

Another benefit of the stickers on the back is you know which way is up. Always check that you have the sign hung the right side up.

other ideas

paint on vinyl


All of this applies to 'classic' freewayblogging. That is: political speech, painted on cardboard which is then tied or otherwise temporarily fastened to fencing or posts in a secure manner so that it does not pose a threat of falling or blowing into traffic and causing a hazard. Do not deface or paint public property.

The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is what it's all about. No littering law is going to stop you from posting a sign on the freeway. If you get arrested and ever make it to court you will walk out without any charges. The First Amendment means something! and that is what freewayblogging is really all about.

U.S. flags on overpasses taken down after ruling. Caltrans can't discriminate among banners

All the U.S. flags, all the banners, all the homemade signs decorating freeway overpasses in California are coming down as a result of a federal judge's ruling yesterday.

The case pitted the California Department of Transportation, which had allowed only U.S. flags to hang on freeway overpasses, against anti-war protesters in Santa Cruz who wanted to put up signs with an opposing point of view.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte issued an order in San Jose yesterday essentially telling Caltrans that it's all or nothing for freeway signs.

A Caltrans representative said last night that it's nothing. No unapproved signs, including the flag, will be allowed on overpasses.

"We're disappointed," said Caltrans spokesman Dennis Trujillo. "We thought the state statutes allowed for the flag to be displayed, but the judge has ruled otherwise. We will comply."

The case was brought by two Santa Cruz women, Amy Courtney and Cassandra Brown, who on Dec. 4 hung banners on Highway 17 overpasses in Scotts Valley. The first banner asked, "Are you buying this war?" and the second, a mile down the road, asked, "At what cost?"

According to court records, a Scotts Valley police officer removed the women's banners, but left up a U.S. flag that someone else had displayed. Caltrans had not approved any of the displays.

The women put up another banner and that too was removed. Caltrans denied removing the second banner, but in any case agreed in court that its policy was to remove all banners and signs except for the U.S. flag.

The issue is a byproduct of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In a patriotic outpouring afterward, flags were displayed everywhere, and overpasses caught a lot of people's attention.

Brown v. Caltrans, 02-15385

Demonstrating and Civil Disobedience: A Legal Guide for Activists

Md. wants flags off highway overpass

December 1, 2006 MILLERSVILLE, Md. -- A 73-year-old Korean War veteran who set out to place 50 U.S. flags along a highway overpass has been ordered by state transportation officials to take them down.

Leo Bessenhoffer put up the flags along an overpass twice during the summer, and state workers removed them both times, citing safety reasons.

This week Bessenhoffer got to within 15 flags of his goal before the highway officials interceded again. He was given until Monday to remove the flags, or the state will take them down again.

Bessenhoffer said he has accepted defeat. "I'm an old man. This is a lot of work for me," he said, adding he didn't understand the fuss. "I could see if it was a Ku Klux Klan flag or a Nazi flag, but this flag means a lot to a lot of people, especially veterans."

Highway officials say state rules prohibit placing items on overpasses.

"Our main interest is the safety of the motorists on (Interstate) 97," said State Highway Administration spokeswoman Kellie Boulware. "We understand that he's being patriotic and we support that. (But) if one of them falls off ... it has a potential to cause a crash."

No happy medium for Caltrans sign policy

Is it Legal? (from

The following is from the freewayblogger:

YES and NO


Free political speech is a fundamental right under the First Amendment. It is your right as a citizen to display non-commercial signs and banners, with some exceptions. Rules regarding signposting along roadways vary from state to state, and locality to locality. So, call your local department of transportation to find out more. Ask for public relations and say you'd like to put up some American flags and "Support the Troops" signs... they will likely be more than helpful. Don't feel bad if that's not precisely what you intend to put up: this is America, and the rules apply equally to all points of view.


Again, the rules vary from state to state, but here in California, your right to political self expression ends exactly 600 feet from the Interstate, and failure to comply may run afoul of the law notwithstanding that nothing in the Streets & Highways Code or Outdoor Advertising Act expressly bars political expression in those areas. Although it remains unresolved whether they are constitutional, some local laws may be used to keep you from speaking out on the roadways. The stated reason for limiting your right to political expression is that such signs present a safety hazard due to their being a "visual distraction" to drivers, which is perfectly reasonable just as soon as they move every damn billboard, commercial sign and jumbo-tron screen 600 feet from the freeway as well. So long as my local car dealer's allowed to show commercials on a thousand square foot TV right next to the 405, you can call my piece of cardboard a visual distraction, but I'm not buying it. Going by those rules, the only people allowed to address commuters are those who either rent or own billboards, which may be fine for the sake of capitalism, but it's bad for America.

free speech is meaningless unless it extends to everybody

We feel that free speech is meaningless unless it extends to everybody: not just to those who can afford it. When the founders of this nation said that everyone was entitled to freely express their political opinions, they didn't mean we could hammer up a sign out in the woods somewhere, they meant we could hammer it up right in the middle of the town square. Why? Because that's where all the people were.

It is our contention that the town square of colonial times has now become the interstate: for better or for worse, that's where all the people are. With this in mind, we feel it is our God-given and constitutionally-granted right to post our messages on the interstates, freeways, or wherever-the-hell-else-we-think-people-will-read-them and we're willing to fight for this right all the way to the Supreme Court.

But you'll have to catch us first.

Carlsbad staffer is cited for vandalizing campaign signs

Candidate's manager says he taped Kelley

October 29, 2006 CARLSBAD – A longtime member of the city's management staff was arrested Friday night after being caught on videotape vandalizing campaign signs touting a mayoral candidate and aCity Council candidate.

Pat Kelley, who has been with the city for more than 30 years, was issued a citation for misdemeanor vandalism, Carlsbad police Lt. Neil Gallucci said. The crime is punishable by up to one year in jail or a $1,000 fine, or both.

Kelley was the city's building and code-enforcement manager until recently, when he was promoted to managing special projects, including development of a police and fire training facility.

Some of the signs that were vandalized touted the candidacy of William Griffith for mayor and Ron Alvarez for City Council. Others, paid for by the Carlsbad Firefighters Association, supported only Griffith.

Alvarez's campaign manager, Michael Bovenzi, said he called police after videotaping Kelley slashing the signs.

Bovenzi said that for the past several nights signs at Cannon Road and Carlsbad Boulevard had been destroyed. So he conducted a one-man sting operation Friday night.

Bovenzi placed several new signs at the corner and waited.

Bovenzi said that about 10:45 p.m. he saw Kelley walking toward the signs and turned on his video camera.

“He slashed a couple, then would back up into some trees to get out of sight when cars came by.”

Bovenzi called the police, who responded within minutes. After talking to Kelley for about an hour, Bovenzi said, they arrested him and took him to the police station, where he was booked and released.

Police took the videotape as evidence, Bovenzi said.

About 100 signs for Griffith and Alvarez have been destroyed in the same way since being put up several weeks ago, Bovenzi said.

Griffith said yesterday that as a citizen he is “deeply disappointed” that someone would do this, and that as a candidate he is upset that his opposition would resort to such tactics.

Accusations of signs being destroyed, removed or vandalized by opponents are normal during election season – almost expected in virtually every contentious race.

However, it is rare when hard evidence exists pointing to a culprit.

Rick Fisher, president of the Carlsbad Firefighters Association, said dozens of the signs his organization has paid for urging people to vote for Griffith have been slashed in the past few weeks.

The race for mayor has become heated, and it is intertwined with two ballot propositions that aim to preserve agricultural land along Cannon Road.

Two challengers, Griffith and Glenn Bernard, are trying to unseat Mayor Bud Lewis, who has been on the council for 36 years and has been mayor for 20 years.

Five candidates are running for two seats on the City Council.

Bovenzi is associated with Concerned Citizens of Carlsbad, which wrote Proposition E, a measure that aims to preserve more than 300 acres along Cannon Road for agriculture.

Lewis and the City Council sponsored a countermeasure, Proposition D, which seeks to preserve the land as open space.

Griffith recently aligned himself with Proposition E.

Lewis and City Manager Ray Patchett said they had no knowledge that Kelley was taking or defacing signs, if it is true.

“From my perception that's totally unacceptable,” Lewis said. “I totally do not concur with anyone – city staff or opponents – taking down signs. I feel very bad about it.”

He noted that the signs cost $3 to $7 each.

“That's a lot of money,” Lewis said, adding that some of his signs have vanished, too.

Patchett said city discipline will be twofold. The police will decide what crime, if any, to charge Kelley with, and his office will investigate and decide on any internal discipline. Patchett said it was premature to say what that discipline might be.

Enforcement varies but some areas remove posters regularly


October 13, 2006 John Dean, a volunteer for San Diego's Neighborhood Code Compliance department, removed signs from Carmel Country Road and Del Mar Trails last month. “On a good weekend, on a corner, there can be 40 signs easy,” Dean said.

To agents, the markers are an essential tool in directing people to for-sale properties. To some residents, they're a natural part of the weekend landscape. To others, they have become obnoxious clutter.

Open-house signs on a corner, a median or a strip of land between the curb and sidewalk, or even in front yards, often violate a municipal or county code.

But the fate of these and other lawbreaking signs varies widely: In some places they are high priority, routinely netted in weekend sweeps; in others, signs are ignored by short-staffed code-enforcement departments.

In some neighborhoods where anti-sign sentiment runs high, volunteer groups confront offending real estate agents and remove signs every weekend.

Agents report that enforcement of sign-code violations has increased as home sales have slowed.

“In these places that they don't enforce it much, it's going to be a matter of time,” said Scott Voak, an agent for Century 21 Paradigm in Rancho Bernardo. “People don't want the streets crowded. A couple of agents who put out a lot of signs have made it worse, but your biggest problem is the sheer number of houses for sale.”

John Dean, a business owner who has been active in his Carmel Valley neighborhood for decades, wages an ongoing battle against illegal signs as a volunteer for San Diego's Neighborhood Code Compliance department.

“On a good weekend, on a corner, there can be 40 signs easy,” Dean said. “I could spend 40 hours a week. I could spend all weekend picking up signs.”

Dean said he used to call agents and offer to return their signs, but they continued to post them. Now he dumps the signs he picks up.

In San Diego, signs in the public right of way are illegal, and signs advertising a house for sale are allowed only on the property itself. The ubiquitous off-site signs directing people to open houses were banned by a code adopted in 2000. But the city has no weekend code-enforcement officers and relies instead on volunteers like Dean.

"Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it."

Howard Zinn

National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Chapter, Right to Protest info

Legal Briefing for Activists at the Republican National Convention

Know Your Rights: What to Do If You're Stopped by the Police

  1. Think carefully about your words, movement, body language, and emotions.
  2. Don't get into an argument with the police.
  3. Remember, anything you say or do can be used against you.
  4. Keep your hands where the police can see them.
  5. Don't run. Don't touch any police officer.
  6. Don't resist even if you believe you are innocent.
  7. Don't complain on the scene or tell the police they're wrong or that you're going to file a complaint.
  8. Do not make any statements regarding the incident. Ask for a lawyer immediately upon your arrest.
  9. Remember officers' badge and patrol car numbers.
  10. Write down everything you remember ASAP.
  11. Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers.
  12. If you are injured, take photographs of the injuries as soon as possible, but make sure you seek medical attention first.
  13. If you feel your rights have been violated, file a written complaint with police department's internal affairs division or civilian complaint board.

Related links

Harrasment of photographers

How to spot a Terrorist

My trip to the Station

taking and posting photos

camera basics. how to take pictures: be careful, don't crash. where and how to post pictures.

Take pictures before you post them, nothing looks better than 3 or 10 signs leaned up against the wall ready to go!

Find a spot where you can post a sign and get a picture from the side of the freeway outside the fence. It's nice to have a sign on a side fence that you drive by every day, find a spot near home that you can walk to. Be careful, avoid confrontations, circle around or come back later.

Think about which way the sun is shining, keep the sun behind you for the best picture. Good advice for rush hour: I blog the west bound lanes in the morning and the east bound in the evening which around me works out for the best light and the most traffic.

Post pictures to the yahoo group and send them to at freewayblogger at thingie yahoo dot com.

hands on making and painting

We will have lots of cardboard (white) ready to paint and the paint and brushes too! An overhead projector. Tape and foam core to try out.

Practice posting on a section of fence with wire or bungy cords.

Coloring books for the kids!


T shirts, DVDs, paint brushes, bungy cords, more!!!