It’s Spreading: More Anarchists Are Fixing Potholes Because the Gov’t Won’t Do Its Job

By Carey Wedler

Indianapolis, IN — As government agencies continue to prove themselves incompetent at local, state, and federal levels, some citizens are taking responsibilities typically assigned to the authorities into their own hands.

One of these responsibilities is maintaining the roads, a task most people believe only government entities can carry out. In Indianapolis, Indiana, however, where the roads are in disrepair and require hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade from “poor” to “fair” condition, two young men are taking a radically different approach: they are filling potholes themselves and building open source technology to crowdfund a community-based, voluntary solution to the problem.

Chris Lang, 22, and Mike Warren, 28, launched Open Source Roads, which they describe as “a grassroots volunteer-driven organization dedicated to fixing the roads, using the philosophy of open-source” that aims to “draw attention to the failing infrastructure of Indianapolis and the legislative cutbacks that have created this problem.”

The Indy Star reports that the duo repaired over 100 potholes last year and have continued their work into this year, investing their own money to clean up the road systems.

They seek to challenge the government’s control over road maintenance, citing the bureaucracy’s inability to do so successfully.

“We want to fill a lot of potholes, and we want people to help out and see that we don’t need to rely on this monopoly for it, and I want that to be what starts the people in charge talking about change,” Lang told the local outlet.

“If the city is going to fail at their own monopoly, why should they have that monopoly?”

Though they don’t aim to overthrow the Department of Public Works, they want to provide other options. Lang, a mechanical engineering student, and Warren, a software developer and Uber driver, say they have spent between $800 and $1,000 of their own money repairing the roads but also raise funds through their GoFundMe campaign, dubbed the “Campaign to fix MUH ROADS.”

“The city has been out to fix many of them, but despite their efforts, potholes still exist in the neighborhood,” the page, which has already surpassed the $500 fundraising goal, reads. “People have been calling the city to come out and finish the job, but to no avail. Given the importance of this to me, I have decided that, if the government won’t do it, maybe I ought to do it myself.”

The pair was inspired by the Portland Anarchist Road Care project, a group of anarchists who have taken it upon themselves to repair roads that Oregon city government has been unable to fix.

Lang told Anti-Media he identifies as an anarchist and that Warren has anarchist leanings. “Up until now, we’ve tried to remain politically ambiguous,” he said, “but truthfully this was all founded on anarchist beliefs we share and designed to promote a general acknowledgment of the failures of the state.”

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Lang and Warren do not have a permit to repair the roads, but so far have been able to proceed, drawing on skills they learned by watching videos on the Internet about how to fill potholes.

Though the city has not yet attempted to physically halt them, Betsy Whitmore, chief communications officer for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works, told the Indy Star in an email that they should obtain the necessary permit, citing public safety concerns.

“I usually feel more unsafe driving than I do working on the roads,” Lang said in response to that sentiment. Further, as he told Anti-Media:

It is terrifying trying to navigate some of these roads, and people are actually crashing/getting hurt on a daily basis. The safety factor is well accounted for in our work, and I fully believe our work is as safe as we need it to be. That being said, we’re always trying to get better gear and improve our techniques to better adapt to safety situations. Every spot we hit is strategically picked, and we are careful to make sure incoming traffic has a realistic path around us.

He also said they often have more than two people working on any given pothole, with volunteers coming out to help fill the potholes and also direct traffic.

They believe the work they are doing goes beyond simply filling holes in roads and is contributing to saving people’s lives. In their Open Source Roads group on Facebook, they refer to an incident where a man in a wheelchair was thrown into the street after hitting a pothole. Bystanders came to his rescue and moved him out of traffic in an effort similar to Open Source Roads’ desire to tap into the community to improve people’s lives rather than waiting on a government that has proven its inability to live up to its responsibilities.

He stressed that their work is “directed activism” — not just two guys trying to fix potholes:

This was something Mike and I, being active political anarchists and formerly working in libertarian organizations together, chose to do specifically for this purpose: So people would ask ‘Why do we need the government, then?’ And the very visible and clear response from the state has just been shrugging off these issues, for a long time.

He continued:

We’ve done bigger things, like work to fight for immigrant and incarcerated people’s rights, to not build new jails, ending the drug war. But we needed to stop thinking globally, and start acting locally. Potholes were a very real, and very utilitarian, way to approach that, and anyone can do them. So it promotes the ideas of anarchism in a lot of ways, I think.

In the spirit of non-government, open-source solutions, they are also working on a website and app that will allow community members to volunteer, as well as map potholes and provide details that will help workers plan repairs.

As Anti-Media journalist Derrick Broze observed while reporting on Portland Anarchist Road Care last year, whether or not these voluntary groups will outcompete the government remains unclear, “but one thing is certain: the community is a shining example of what a determined group of individuals can do when working together on a common goal.”

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15 Comments on "It’s Spreading: More Anarchists Are Fixing Potholes Because the Gov’t Won’t Do Its Job"

  1. City incompetence | April 10, 2018 at 3:40 am | Reply

    I was gonna say just wait till the city adds insult to injury & requires them to pay for a permit to do the job that THEY WONT, CANT or are TOO INCOMPETENT to do!
    The the city is actually already PAID TO DO!
    They’ve got some front & no conscience.
    But this city council is not any differerent to anywhere else.
    Doesn’t make make it right though…. they have no shame.
    Good on these young fellas!
    Fixing the potholes & exposing the council as corrupt crooks at the same time.
    Well done!

    • NobodysaysBOO | April 10, 2018 at 10:16 am | Reply

      HANG these lieing bastards instead!!!!

    • Common Sense | April 10, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Reply

      Yeah. I can see that one coming.
      The so called “experts” will define these repairs as a danger because the people involved were not qualified, certified, licensed, ect, ect. So they must now be FINED for doing unauthorized work.

      I like the corrective action described in the comments after this one.
      We will not be able to use the law to protect us when said law has been hijacked by the criminals who have stolen power.

  2. Welcome to the ‘pothole’ of the world.

  3. Don’t know if this is so great. No solution as long as people still feed the monster (pay taxes).

    The State takes your property in taxes, doesn’t repair the roads or whatever and suckers step in to, literally, “fill the void” that government leaves behind.. Would be great if it actually delegitimized the state, but I’m afraid it has very little to do with it. Seems more like tax slaves filling in for the State.

    Trying to pass this stuff off as “anarchism,” is wishful thinking at best, but actually pretty misleading.

    • NobodysaysBOO | April 10, 2018 at 10:12 am | Reply

      FILL the STREETS with DEAD ALIENS and EVEN Trump MAY ACT????

    • Common Sense | April 10, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Reply

      Agreed !
      Quite honestly, I see it as enabling, naïve, and very misplaced. We should be doing something about the ROOT CAUSE, not compensating for dereliction of duties or outright laziness by the state, county or city. WHERE ARE THE TAX DOLLARS TO COVER THIS GOING ? That’s the question we should bringing to bear with great pressure. The roads are literally falling apart EVEYWHERE and our answer is to go out and fix them ourselves? BS. Corruption has infiltrated every facet of our society. We now can’t even trust the road department to do its job. Wait till the bridges start collapsing. But we can’t make the effort to call out the corruption and incompetence (sarcasm) No, we would rather just go along to get along until it’s too late.

      Silence is consent !
      As long as they can get away with it, it will only get worse.

      It is said, a people deserve any regime they endure.

      We are getting the exact kind of government we are enabling with our silence, and inaction.

      • Hey guys, Chris here from Open Source Roads! The city has continuously rerouted our tax dollars away from repairs and towards “internal affairs”, leading to a lot of questioning over where our money REALLY goes, if not road repairs. This entire bit of activism was designed to make the state look dumb, and get people asking that very question you just did!

        We’re not competing with the state option, we’re making theirs look dumb and ineffective and its blowing up well for us. Come back in 6 months and we’ll see how much this has affected systematic change, who knows!

        • Hi Chris,

          Richard here, from Holland. Good of you to respond and explain a bit. Really appreciate that!

          And don’t get me wrong, for I do think that you mean well for the community. But like I said, as long as you and all the rest are still paying taxes, you’re just being used.
          There’s no need to state the obvious. You’re indeed not competing with the state and making it look dumb might be nice to draw attention, but that’s not the point here.

          The point is that in this article (and many in the same vein on other “anarchist” sites), your well intentioned pr-stunt is being presented as, and I quote:

          “non-government, open-source solutions”

          And THAT is very misleading.

          At best, it is a creative and sympathetic way to make a point to the wider public and then (hopefully) use the opportunity to prepare for actual solutions, which must be directed at repossessing lost property in taxes, i.e.: a tax rebellion.
          That would be anarchy as a real challenge to the state. Absent this crucial step, all that comes before is just fine at a personal level, but to sell it (as this site does) as “anarchism,” is just plain and simple BS.

          And let me add, that as a Dutchie, I might know what comes next (that would be the “at worst” part). Your initiatives, if successful publicity wise, will be co-opted by the state. Over here, our overlords like to call it the “Participation Society”. Perhaps in the US they’d like to call it the “Inclusive Society,” where everybody “contributes.”

          Just like with you guys, people over here were getting sick & tired of having to wait for the authorities to actually do something, so they took it upon themselves to remedy the void. What did it accomplish in the end?
          People still pay the same amount of taxes, so the extortion continues unabated, while the initiatives, financed with extra money donated by the people themselves, have been presented as the new “participation society”, which is just an excuse for govt to provide even less “services” for the same amount of extortion.
          So today, TPTB encourage civilians to better their communities through, well.. direct(ed) action. Please take this scenario into consideration before you let others present your good intentions as some kind of victory. The road to hell is paved with potholes, for sure, but also with good intentions.

          So what exactly has been delegitimized? Not the state, I’m afraid. If anything, it is government inaction and negligence that have inadvertently been “legitimized”. For where in the article do we read about a tax revolt? Not even a hint! And that’s telling, don’t you think?

          What’s been paraded here on this site as a small victory, is really a misplaced feeling of empowerment and the illusion of rebellion without any need for a real confrontation. How’s that in plain English? Rowing the boat without making waves?

          And again, I’m not blaming you guys who actually do something. I blame these sites who intentionally present this as a genuinely “anarchist” solution (leading people into dead alleys), while they should be promoting actions that really pose a threat to centralized political power. Don’t let them use you. Whether or not the sites I mentioned were erected for the express purpose of playing the controlled opposition part is anyone’s guess, but with articles like these..

          Kind regs from Amsterdam,

          • Common Sense | April 11, 2018 at 7:27 am |

            This one sentence within your statement says it all.

            “People still pay the same amount of taxes, so the extortion continues unabated, while the initiatives, financed with extra money donated by the people themselves, have been presented as the new “participation society”, which is just an excuse for govt to provide even less “services” for the same amount of extortion.”

            And as far as your thoughts on this, and many so called alternative websites, being controlled opposition, I feel the same suspicion.
            If all of MSM can be controlled by 5-6 companies, how hard would it be to control a few small independent news sources. Lastly, when nothing ever comes of all the reporting, what is it actually accomplishing. Entertainment?

          • Richard_Ran | April 11, 2018 at 10:28 am |

            “If all of MSM can be controlled by 5-6 companies, how hard would it be to control a few small independent news sources.”

            Exactly my working assumption, CS. Hence my advice to Chris to use these platforms, yes, of course, while not allowing them to distort, however slightly, your message.

            Ron Paul for instance, made use of the Republican platform to educate people about the fundamentals of a free society, while he knew full well how worthless that platform in itself was. In the same vein, he appeared on Alex Jones, to use that platform to educate people.

            My shortlist of possibly or probably controlled orgs/platforms/media faces, some more subtle than others:

            “alt”-Anarcho: Corbett (very well done), Anarchast (creep Berwick), Vin Armani, Conscious Res, Stefan Moly..whatever, the whole Ross Ulbricht circus (another fake Ron Paul supporter), to name but a few.
            These sites appeal to the neohippie inclined part of the movement started by Ron Paul more than ten years ago. They adopted the R3VOLUTION message and adapted it enough to defuse the threat to organized political power. The kind of “anarchy” which poses no real challenge to TPTB, like we saw in this article. All of these hippie2.0 sites have been pushing the cryptocoin scheme like mad. Beta testing for the cashless society.

            “alt”-Right: Lauren Southern, Faith Goldy (the staged “free speech” incident with Rebel Media, Jordan Peterson).

            “alt” whistleblowers: Assange, Snowden, Edmonds.

            “alt”-anti-Jihad: Jihadwatch, Gates of Vienna, Brussels Journal (back in the old days). All fake antijihad, “Israel First” neocon sites.

            Many more of course.

            Take care,

        • Common Sense | April 11, 2018 at 7:20 am | Reply

          I commend you on your effort, but making them look dumb will have little to no real consequences. These people have no shame.
          They need to be held accountable up to and including termination just as we would in our jobs.

  4. Should lead to massive tax revolt and the state cannot deal with that. They can only threaten. Take care of you neighborhood and monitor the police as they cruise around it. Keep track of their hours and identities. Do everything you can to undercut the state, local and federal. Disobey, be late, make noise, be on the streets in large groups, bear witness…

  5. Italian activist Danilo Dolci was doing this back in the 1960’s or earlier. Check him out.

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