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Thursday, December 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 34.0° F  Overcast
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The New Activists: The T-Shirt Maker, Lisa Marine
Marine created 'SolidariTees for Wisconsin!'
Marine created 'SolidariTees for Wisconsin!'
Credit:Carolyn Fath

Attending the earliest Capitol protests galvanized Lisa Marine, inspiring her concept for an art project: She would design a T-shirt bearing Wisconsin's outline, the word SOLIDARITY emblazoned across its chest and a star identifying Madison as the uprising's epicenter. She would sell them at minimal cost to cover her expenses, asking customers to send her photos of themselves wearing her SolidariTees. Her cautious initial printing of 30 sold out in a flash. Demand has now pushed sales past 250. More than 50 people have sent Marine photos of themselves wearing the T-shirt.

Thus was born "SolidariTees for Wisconsin!" Marine's blog at documents a tribe that includes a California archivist, a kilted Montana backpack-maker, a Pennsylvania pharmacist and others from faraway places, all wearing their support for Wisconsin's public employees. Most of the group, however, are Wisconsinites: an urban chicken farmer, musicians, a bookbinder, a nurse, a legal secretary, a roller grrrl, a teacher, bartenders and Marine herself.

Marine, 48, is a public employee and the bassist for bands like the Quickies, NoahJohn, Charlemagne and Chick Singer (to which she contributes saw, baritone ukulele and vocals).

"I was at the Capitol in a giant crowd of people," says Marine. "Some of the media were saying it was just a bunch of college kids and hippies, and I was seeing people like me and my parents and people from my hometown. I wanted to show who it really was."

Sustained camaraderie is urgent, she notes, because the threat to public employees remains high. As the sole provider for her family, Marine says, the possibility that Gov. Walker's budget might put her own job at risk "takes a big emotional toll on me," driving her to insomnia.

"We have to keep fighting back, or Wisconsin and everything it's been built on is going to be ruined," Marine says. She hopes the blog will contribute to the counterpunch by demonstrating that people care enough about public employees to stand with them in SolidariTees.

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