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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Work and Play in Social Activism

This poster is for the Workers' Defense Project 1st Annual Soccer Tournament. The WDP is engaging in an innovative medium for raising awareness, funds and fun. Instead of merely asking for money or just hosting a rally the WDP has decided to bring both into a single event. This event is a stroke of tactical genius for a few reasons: 
First, Soccer Sells. Soccer is not only the most popular sport worldwide but has a large following here in Austin, especially among the most direly affected populations the organization seeks to assist. The Justicia Copa Laboral indicates the WDP is attuned to its target population on a cultural level. 
All of the proceeds of the event benefit the WDP's computer literacy course which; an initiative aimed at helping to teach workers a vital vocational skill set within Austin's technical industries. Many of the workers the WDP benefits are of a Latino background and thus need help with not just learning English, but translating English Language Training into marketable skill sets. 
Using Soccer to spread the WDP's cause reconnects abstract worker's rights issues to an Ethos of Community. It shifts the terrain of the debate about Labor policy from a technical economic issue to concrete histories, communities and cultures. Soccer is an international sport thus invokes ideas about the transnational flows migrants, capital and knowledge. 
When one aids the WDP you are not simply helping a lobbying firm but participating within a collectivity; an assemblage of people with real families, dreams, and desires. Instead of simply challenging stereotypes on the level of rational deliberation, the event publicly constitutes a site of performance, pride, and promise. One cannot simply persuade and tell the public that a job is more than a number on a spreadsheet, an opportunity cost, a liability - you have re-present the invisible, marginalized populations in a positive light. Furthermore, these public events express these laboring bodies as more than a charity case, a victim subjected to the whims of the business cycle. These bodies beat with hope beyond being a statistic of servitude. 
An event is a Gathering - showing solidarity means more than checking a box on a political questionnaire.  Witnessing the mixture of bodies laughing, sweating and toiling together shows that the relations between those trying to help and those in need does not have to mirror the segregation experienced in the market. Playing soccer together evinces publics that competition need not be conflated with a brutish interpretation of human nature. Rather, an ethos of collectivity can be forged despite the inevitability of competitive practices. 

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