Just this very weekend, our IWW local did a May Day commemorative.
We flyered all over town like you did. With people coming and going, we probably had about a hundred people show up (which was actually pretty good, considering Eugene Saturday Market and Cinco de Mayo were happening at the same time).
Failure? Far from it. Why? Because everyone who showed up had a real good time-- and I'm sure they're going to tell all their friends how much fun they had. Next time we do something, I'm sure there's going to be a lot more people show.
So, what did we do? First of all, we didn't have the event somewhere where you had to sit in chairs and be uncomfortable-- we did it at a picnic shelter at a city park. Had lots of good music (mainly folk, Wobbly songs, etc.-- the more in yo' face stuff was just startin' to happen when I had to take off; but then, I like folk music-- like John Fahey, not Bob Dylan), free food and beer. Lots of speakers, including Andrew's friend Tomas. No cops to be seen anywhere, but I'm sure there were a few hiding in the woodwork.
In short, we had a party in the park.
Now, a number of people might treat this with a bit of disdain, but we did it legal, got the permits and all that jazz (but then again, we had to make sure to have a covered area in case our wonderful Oregon weather turns to its normal May rainshower mush).
This wasn't a problem, because several of us do other events for nonprofits and such in city parks and the permit people know us and know that we can (and will) deal with our own security stuff, because we like our parks and don't want them trashed.
As for the effect we created, it was great. Why? Location, location, location. We did this in a really nice park, one right smack in the middle of where all the rich folks live. Now, imagine this, we're out in this park, the sun's shining and the weather's wonderful. The rhododendrons are blooming everywhere (this park is known for that) and all the rich folks are taking their families to see the pretty flowers.
Just one problem.... There's this picnic shelter standing between all the rich folks houses and the pretty flowers. So they're walking ever so happily to the gardens and they pass this picnic shelter. Now, the shelter (because it's May 4) has big pictures of all the Haymarket martyrs everywhere. And the attendees (ranging in age from two to ninety-three) look like a cross between what you would find at the Sturgis Harley ralley, an Earth First blockade, and a CRASS concert. And there's this crisp, clean JBL sound system, and someone talking about the CGT or IWW strikes, or, more likely, someone singing "Dump the Bosses Off Your Backs," or something similarly entertaining. Talk about ruining the kkkapitalist's day in the park.... Sometimes we need to take a cue from the Taoist folks, using subtlety as an agressive tactic.
Or at least, in the Empty-V (MTV) generation, be entertaining and (especially) funny-- all those old Wobbly songs are funny-- and if you can make someone laugh, whether they agree with you or not, they will show up and hang out. And that was the weird thing... seein' all the rich folks that stayed for a song or two, picked up some propaganda, and then went on to the park. Who knows, maybe they're havin' a bit of trouble sleeping tonight.
But, then again, this here's Merry Prankster country... and I think we've pulled a good 'un... without even trying.
Our labor crew all showed up, but then again, a number of the people involved in our IWW local are professional stagehands, sound people, etc.
(the caliber that drive down to Hollywood to work, tour with rock bands and Broadway road shows), who can run sound at a picnic with both hands tied behind their backs and blindfolded.
"When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities." Matt Groening