March on Blair Mountain makes dual journey in cyberspace
BY M.L. RAMSBURG
Joining a host of other social, political and environmental movements of this modern era, the March on Blair Mountain takes their message to cyberspace, through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and their official website, online at http://www.marchonblairmountain.org.
Social media and the March’s website allow organizers to send updates to supporters and friends, a media representative said. It also acts as a fund raising mechanism, the representative said.
On the official website, those unable to join the March in person are given the opportunity to take a “virtual march”. Each day, visitors to the “virtual march” section of the website are encouraged to complete daily tasks that further the environmental and social movements the March stands for.
On Monday, day one of the March, participants were encouraged to contact President Obama’s office to show support for the preservation of Blair Mountain. The site provided contact information to the President’s office. It also provided a form that participants could fill out and send as an electronic message.
On Tuesday, Virtual March participants were asked to donate $5 to the March on Blair Mountain, in part to help offset the costs of a camp ground. Late Monday night, Boone county commission administrator Jim Gore requested the group vacate the John Slack Park where they were camping. He cited a 32-year-old rule that banned overnight stays at county parks like John Slack. March on Blair representatives claimed they received permission from the park’s director, but agreed to leave the site’s premise. Organizers set a goal of raising $5,000 in order to rent space to prevent such an ordeal from happening again. On Wednesday afternoon, a March media representative confirmed that the group was able to raise the entire amount through their online Virtual March campaign.
Wednesday, the Virtual March page asked participants to contact the White House yet again, this time asking President Obama to re-list Blair Mountain on the National Historic register. They provided a telephone number and a script that participants could use when calling.
Also on the March website Wednesday, organizers live-streamed part of the march. Beginning at noon and lasting for approximately 20 minutes, online visitors could watch as marchers made their journey through Madison, Boone county. A March media representative said a marcher had streamed the video from their iPhone. The rep said that they chose to stream video from Madison because cell phone service in the area was sufficient. (Not all areas – especially those rural areas – along the March’s route have good cell phone service.)
Those who watched the noon live stream heard one march participant say, “We’ve got more people today than the past few days.” At one point on the streamed march, a man using a bullhorn was heard shouting: “Single file please in this one part.” According to the UStream view counter at the bottom of the streaming video, the feed received nearly 190 total views during its live broadcast.
Other website features include written updates, as well as video and photos from the field. The group also has a Twitter account where they make frequent updates from the ground. March on Blair’s Facebook event page is also active, and as of late Wednesday evening, showed 733 attendees (though it wasn’t immediately clear if all of those people would be attending the march, the rally near Blair on Saturday, neither or both).