Editor Vince Hempsall offers a glimpse into the world of rogue media, why we’re seeing more of it in our communities, and why it’s so important.
When I ask why she stapled a piece of cardboard stencilled with “No Vacancy” to Nelson, British Columbia’s welcome sign, she replies, “It’s the only way I feel a bit of power to change anything.” She’s fed up with rising house prices, inaccessible rent, and low vacancy rates in the community she moved to 12 years ago. “I’m not a political person, and I don’t have any answers,” she says. “I just wanted to express my frustration.” In so doing, the 38-year-old wife, mother, and homeowner committed a crime — thus the anonymity — and inspired us all to talk about the issue.
These days, it’s crucial to share important ideas in unique ways, to express ourselves outside of the mass-media machine. And the more of us who do it the better because small acts of many contribute to greater change. Rogue messaging, like the No Vacancy sign, certainly works, but it comes with possible legal ramifications. Independent media also presents perspectives that often go unheard. It’s the opposite of posting an Instagram photo of your ass in yoga pants by an alpine lake. Such soft-core platitudes on juggernaut-owned channels are so commonplace they’re nearing impotence. But put a seven-metre-long billboard in your front yard on which you spray-painted a dinosaur pointing at a giant meteor saying, “Oh Shit! The economy!” like Slocan Valley, British Columbia, artist Matty Kakes did, and that will definitely incite discussion. Acts like these are so outside our daily purview that they rise up from the digital bog, and we take notice.
It’s the opposite of posting an Instagram photo of your ass in yoga pants by an alpine lake.
Travel through the Kootenays and you’ll see these messages. Hell, you can hear them! One pirate radio-station operator explains the entire town helps run it. “We’re a community that practices tolerance and does things for the good of all,” she says. Nelson’s Kootenay Co-op Radio started as a pirate station, and its mandate continues to give voice to those who are underrepresented. This magazine began as a 20-page rag with a terrible logo, and over the years our staff and contributors have received awards and death threats. When you share important ideas, some will love you for it and some just want to shoot you. And sharing those ideas can have a wider impact than you had ever imagined. Consider a little-known artist who, in 1997, painted a small mural in the riverside city of Bristol, England, depicting a teddy bear lobbing a Molotov cocktail at riot police. It was Banksy.