Grass Roots And Telephone Poles

We’ve got an election coming up next Tuesday, and recently the notice shown in the photo above has appeared on some of the telephone poles around German Village. The signs encourage people to vote against Issue 7, the dubious so-called “clean energy” initiative that would have the effect of transferring control over millions of dollars of City of Columbus funds to shadowy groups and blowing a hole in the city budget.

I’ve previously noted my opposition to Issue 7, so I agree with the sign’s sentiment. But what’s also interesting to me is the whole idea of using signs on telephone poles as a means of communication in a political campaign. It’s a pretty labor-intensive method, because someone had to go to each of those telephone poles and staple the signs into the wood. In some suburban neighborhoods, where the car culture prevails, that would be wasted effort because motorists rolling by on their way to work or to run errands aren’t going to notice small signs on telephone poles, much less stop to read what they say.

But German Village is different. It’s very much of a walker’s neighborhood, where a pedestrian like me will notice a sign flapping on a telephone pole, become curious, and stop to read it. I’m guessing that I’m not alone in doing so. In this neighborhood, at least, sheets of paper on telephone poles are an effective method of communication, and people who live hear regularly use the telephone poles to communicate about lost cats and dogs, yard sales, and other matters. Whoever took the time to go around our streets and staple-gun their notices understood that aspect of our neighborhood and figured that if they got just a few passersby to stop and read about why Issue 7 should be defeated, it is worth the effort.

We’ve all heard of “grass roots” politics, and seasoned campaigners will tell you that all politics is local and that you need to understand your audience to communicate effectively. This election’s anti-Issue 7 telephone pole campaign in German Village is a good illustration of the merit of that observation.