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SOS Congress -- a view from the blacktop

​By now, you've probably already read the headline (and seen the story and the bird's-eye-view picture): Around 300 Arizonans posed at the Heard Museum parking lot Sunday morning to say "SOS" to Congress.

What you haven't gotten yet is the hot Phoenix asphalt-level view of the event Stinkweed's owner Kimber Lanning and other Valley business owners and supporters organized as a people's answer to SB1070 and the resulting boycotts of Arizona.

It was only about an hour, but it was pretty action-packed. It went something like this:

7:45: Lanning and crew had clearly been around for a while, but it's about now that participants start to really show up. They sign their names to a sheet, stick on name badges, and mill around in the shade.

7:55: As the crowd builds, photographers wrangle groups of two and three into pop-up tents to shoot photos. The photographer explains that they'll go up, along with the official large group shot, on soscongress.org.

8:15: It feels like a downtown social hour. Some folks have their dogs on leashes, several have little kids with them. 

8:20: Reporters from local media work the crowd for interviews.

8:30: We're told to make our way over to the "SOS Congress" spelled out in rocks on the Heard parking lot. Some folks want to be in a certain letter, others want to stay with friends.

8:35: Lanning manages to make herself heard to the scattered crowd without the help of a PA or even a bullhorn. Everyone follows directions, moving from crowded letters to ones that were a bit thin.

8:40: Lanning rounds up press and event photographers to head up to the top floor of the high-rise just north of the Heard parking lot. A handful of high-rise residents watch from balconies. A few folks bop along to the beat of the drum and kazoo.

8:45: It's really getting hot now. We're most surprised that so few people brought a parasol.

8:50: Photographers appear on the balcony! Via walkie-talkie, Lanning tells some people on the ground that the word "congress" has some shadows that make it hard to read. We're to bend, squat or otherwise get low. Jokes are made and laughing, we do it.

8:55: We're not sure if the photographers and press up on the balcony are getting good shots or not, but many of us in "congress" have plopped all the way down on our butts on the blacktop. The drum-kazoo guy is still playing the same tune. Pretty sure we're not the only ones getting a sunburn.

9:00: Lanning radios down the message that the photographers are finished and we all look great, and thanks everyone for showing up to participate. Everyone cheers and some applaud, then, after a moment's hesitation to make sure we're really done, the crowd disperses, retreating back to the shade for a bit more social time.

9:05: The photographers snap a few more portraits. The parents pack their kids into strollers. Senate hopeful and former New Times writer John Dougherty works the crowd distributing buttons and business cards. People say their goodbyes. A few dedicated helpers sweep up the scattered rocks.

9:10: One woman on the Heard museum staff says she'd mentally prepared for the worst, in case of protesters or scuffles. All-in-all, though she was pleased and not surprised at how well things turned out. A success.

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