chapter  3
Protest Parks: Digital Activism and the Public Leisure Sphere
Pages 25

Public protest takes on many forms. Picture bongo drummers and weed, tucked away in a corner of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Passersby today can still see the remnants of the hippie counterculture movement

of the 1960s, a time of Allen Ginsberg and his poetic activism, a time of ‘human be-ins,’ live music, Frisbees, and fl ying coff ee can lids protesting the Vietnam War. The cultural studies theorist Stuart Hall marked this as an ‘American moment’—a subculture of peace, love, community, and self that successfully fostered the symbolism of a Peace Park. In early 1967, 20,000 hippies gathered in Golden Gate Park to protest a California law that made LSD illegal. True to the Summer of Love ethos, this public expression in a park brought together artists and the Hell’s Angels and took on the guise of chanting mantras and singing Grateful Dead tunes. And every now and then, these lived politics of space get reignited and revived to serve a contemporary cause. In September 2012, a group in San Francisco calling themselves Space TranSFormers took to the park to demonstrate against the growing commercialism of the city’s public spaces. The organizer Ryan Rising told the San Francisco Examiner:

This is a big tradition in San Francisco-people gathering freely to share music and discussions . . .We feel like it’s kind of fading away . . . We will be thinking about how to grow our own food, heal each other with herbal medicines, build natural structures . . . this is about reaching a permanent relationship of balance with the earth.