On Saturday I trekked over to Brisbane Square for the No Clean Feed protest. Extremely hot as usual for Queensland, I'm fairly sure that many were distracted by their quests for shade, but this wasn't too much of a feat thanks to the many signs and banners brought by attendees.

Pros

  • No rain! Yay! I was petrified it was going to bucket down. Phew.
  • Plenty of amusing signage and very relevant speakers.
  • Enthusiastic crowd of about 250. I'm sure the number estimates vary but thank God for the enthusiasm! Nothing worse than guests who don't want to be there.
  • Pamphlets given out were informative and helpful for those passing by.
  • Lots of online coverage (see below).
  • Lolitas. A key Internet subculture was represented and everybody loves a girl in black lace with a gorgeous parasol! 
  • Location was the best possible one for the time and nature of the event. Maybe the event could have been taken halfway down Queen Street Mall outside Hungry Jacks, Boost Juice and the busy newsagency stand around lunchtime. This would have attracted a lot of lunch-goers between the Myer centre and the train station, gamers at EB Games, plus travellers at bus stops along Adelaide Street. However, moving the hundreds of people at the protest might have lost a few and I am not even sure if protest legislation would have allowed for the move. (Surely it would have. Might look that one up!)

Cons

  • Guest speakers could not be heard by majority of crowd. Megaphones should have been tested at least an hour before attendees arrived. Many left after nothing could be heard.
  • A rock cover band was playing for around an hour at the top of Queen Street over the road. This meant also that little could be heard and that some people left to see what was going on elsewhere. This could have been avoided if it was possible to know if Queen Street was having any entertainment during the morning, but I am not sure this was.
  • Reports of misspellings on pamphlets. ARGH, so unprofessional. A good ol' proofread never hurt anyone!
  • Multiple unrelated lefty groups showed up and pitched tables at the protest, pushing away those who might have come but chose not to in fear of having a tree-hugger or Amnesty nerd pushing their agenda. I think it would have been only fair to ask gatecrasher groups to go elsewhere. There's enough Brisbane for all its activists!
  • Not a lot of coverage in traditional media outside two or three quick news stories and one or two small newspaper articles. Or maybe this is good, I'm not sure what organisers were expecting.

Just a note on the geek in-jokes on t-shirts and signage. They were funny of course to most people there, but there is no point to this if it isolates your target audience. I'd say a lot of people walking by (the very people the protest was aimed at getting onside) were quite confused about what was going on and hence walked as quickly as possible past the geekery as if it was a disease. The news only reports after the fact; no one else will drag the event through the crowds quite like positive marketing of course. 

For other viewpoints and coverage of the protest, David Jackmanson has done a great job of collating them, included is Ashley Kyd's post which I quite like.