In August of this year, and again in September, the 9/11 Truth Action Project (911TAP) participated in two street fairs held in Portland, Oregon. As discussed below, both events were very successful, achieving solid results as measured by our two primary outreach objectives of education and recruitment. The booth display materials were instrumental in this success, as they encouraged unhurried self-study of our topic by the street fair visitors that complemented the teaching done by booth personnel. The materials were designed and printed in the week ahead of the first event by the local action team in Portland. These materials, along with the experience gained here, can help support other groups who might be interested in doing their own booth events.
Introducing The Truth Booth
The following photo shows the display materials and their layout in the Truth Booth used in Portland. The sign in front clearly and concisely presents the essence of 911TAP, with our name in big letters that are easily readable from across the street, the 911TAP mission statement, website, and logo, as well as a new motto, "For justice, for peace, for liberty," developed for this sign.
The large banner at the back of the booth and the tri-fold display on the table combine to provide a focused, "deep dive," introduction to Building 7, widely considered to be the most persuasive topic that we can deliver to mainstream audiences. Both of these drew interest from the street fair attendees, with people lingering throughout the day to read the content without any "selling" required by the booth volunteers. The banner presents key highlights of the Building 7 collapse, while the table-top tri-fold teaches much of the bullet-point story board from the 911TAP brochure, again featuring Building 7.
Alberta Street Fair, August 11
We introduced the Truth Booth at the Alberta Street Fair held in northeast Portland, a fair that annually boasts one of the largest audiences of any street fair in the city. It did not disappoint. An estimated 200 people visited the booth, some reading the display, some taking a brochure, and some talking to booth volunteers. A total of 38 people signed the 911TAP petition at this fair, with 14 of these choosing to receive the 911TAP newsletter, 8 opting for action alerts, and 4 selecting the option to help out on future events.
Some of the action team volunteers who operated this booth are shown in the following photo. From left to right are David Fura, Patti McKniff, and Lynnette Wynne. Not shown is Marcela Pena (behind the camera), who also did the graphic design for the booth. Note from this picture as well the individual reading the tri-fold display. This was a typical response from many street fair participants who didn't need anybody to tell them what to do.
Belmont Street Fair, September 8
After the great experience on Alberta Street, expectations were high for the Belmont Street Fair in southeast Portland. But still, nothing is ever guaranteed, so we were anxious to see if the success would be repeated. Yes, it was more of the same. Once again, somewhere around 200 people took part in our booth event, reading the booth materials, talking to booth volunteers, taking home brochures, and/or signing the 911TAP petition. The number of petition signers improved to 46 at this street fair, with 18 choosing to be newsletter subscribers, 8 action alert subscribers, and 5 new volunteers.
The overall experience on Belmont Street was similar to that of Alberta Street. Most people who approached the booth to talk were friendly, either already aware that the official story is wrong or else less informed but curious to learn more. The total number of people at both events who were there to argue could be counted on one hand. Of course, many people who approached the booth seemed skeptical when they arrived and skeptical when they left, but perhaps less to. Often these people preferred not to engage with us.
The experience on Belmont Street did differ somewhat from the experience on Alberta Street, due to the contrasting outreach styles of the booth volunteers at the two events. At the Alberta event, three of the four volunteers there preferred to operate at the booth, augmenting the booth display materials by answering questions, discussing evidence topics, handing out materials, and asking people to sign the 911TAP petition. Their constant presence at the booth helped ensure that visitors achieved their full learning potential at the booth.
In contrast, the two volunteers at the Belmont Street booth, David Fura and John Shuck, preferred to operate one-on-one with a petition clipboard in hand. This approach often had them out in the crowd, not directly tied to the booth. There is no clear advantage to either approach, as they both involve 911TAP volunteers talking to people about 9/11. It is a point in favor of the booth approach to outreach, however, that it supports both flavors of interaction to fit an individual's personal preference.
Observations And Future Plans
We are pleased with the performance of the display materials developed for our Truth Booth. The focus on WTC Building 7 continues to be seen as the right call. People are drawn to the pictures showing the level-roofline collapse, with a resemblance to controlled-demolition videos that leads them to puzzle over why they don't see this on their TV sets. The more-detailed brochure topics in the table-top display complement this by providing a more in-depth look at the evidence and the government and news media response to the evidence. Together, these were compelling enough to bring people to the booth, and often keep them there for extended reading and follow-up conversations.
The flip side of this is the effect they had on the booth personnel. Because the display materials do much of the introductory heavy lifting, booth volunteers felt no pressure to act as "pushy sales people." It is a simple matter to let visitors know that they are available for questions. In fact, avoiding the area in front of the display altogether was seen as a good approach, as it encouraged people to linger and read without fear of being accosted by, again, a "pushy sales person."
It is often been observed that "a big event draws a big crowd." This is true not only for audiences but for the local activist community who offer their services to help. Although not a huge event by any measure, the Alberta event did draw four volunteers, three with extensive experience and one person making their public debut. The support provided by the three experienced people helped to smooth the transition into public activism for Lynnette Wynne, who then went on to organize and run the 911TAP vigil in Beaverton, Oregon one month later.
The attention received from Facebook posts on these events also motivated people into action who reside outside of Portland, and even outside of Oregon. Late last month, the Truth Booth made its inaugural appearance in Eugene, Oregon, with similar positive results (an upcoming article will cover this event). Plans for another event in Boise, Idaho have been temporarily stymied by the onset of colder weather, but we look forward to picking this back up again next Spring.
The artwork for the display materials used in this booth is available for 911TAP teams, or individuals, who want to run their own events. The cost to re-create the sign, banner, and tri-fold display should be modest--for us it was under $140. With a canopy and some tables you would be good to go.
With the barrier to entry for booth-based action now significantly reduced, the time has come for similar booth events to begin flowering across the U.S. Send an email to information at 911tap dot org if you would like to learn how to get started or if you need more information. There will be as much help as you need to assist you all along the way.