Subvertising and the long view in Belfast

Campaigns do have effects, and this one proves it

We learned quite a few things while working with Belfast housing activists to force the City to reject Castlebrooke's bid to take over the center of Belfast, and to finance social housing instead.

We learned a few technical things: how to hack bus stop ads (easy!), infiltrate city government venues (easy!), and make and throw seed bombs (easy!). We also failed at a few things: mainly staying in city government venues, and convincingly stinging officials. But that wouldn't be the first time….

We also re-learned how fun it can be to get a legal threat if you (a) don't have lawyers, and (b) can find a nice way to ignore your friends' lawyers. Threats can make for some good email theater, as we first learned back in our very first project.

We remembered, too, that it's not all about media attention, but also about rallying the community (see "lessons" below). And most importantly, we relearned that effective campaigns are usually long, and that any given action (or series of actions!) is about building towards a win, not winning all at once. 

What's certain is that campaigns have effects, and it's certain that tireless activism in Belfast—by our partners there as well as others—is what led to the City's July 2020 decision to defer approval for Castlebrooke.