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Posts Tagged ‘really really free market’

by Antonette Brotman

Chicago – “How much?” asked the lady in the Polish Triangle, picking up a porcelain chef figurine from between a box of pantry items and a pile of old clothes.

“It’s free. Everything is free,” voices answered. But she wasn’t accepting it as free. A container filled with change at her feet read, “Give if you want, take if you need.” She drew a dollar from her wallet, dropped it in with the other money and walked off, clutching her new trinket like a smuggler.

On Oct. 26 local activists brought their idle possessions together for barter at the Really Really Free Market (RRFM). They set up blankets to station themselves with their goods, and started looking around for things of interest to trade – for free.

Maggie Block and Zak Eveland dump a pile of clothes on a blanket to set up for the RRFM. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

Maggie Block and Zak Eveland dump a pile of clothes on a blanket to set up for the RRFM. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

Activist Maggie Block organized RRFM at the Polish Triangle located at the intersection of Division Street, Milwaukee Avenue and Ashland Avenue. The event was held in commemoration for Kirsten Brydum, a San Francisco activist, who was fatally shot this past September in New Orleans.

“We wanted to start a long-overdue RRFM in [Brydum’s] honor,” Block said. “And hopefully we can make this a more consistent thing.”

With the winter months approaching, RRFM events will be moved indoors until the spring, but the details have not yet been confirmed.

Not to be confused with standard charity, the RRFM is interactive sharing where everyone benefits. People can got rid of their no longer needed items and traded with other people for things they wanted.

“It’s a wonderland,” Shimer College liberal arts student David Brault said. “It’s a joke on the real market where you sell services for money. But here, I can sell my services for free.”

Many people provided services including massages, haircuts or music lessons. In addition there were also clothes, books, photos, paintings and posters. Brault drew free portraits for the event.

“It’s funny because it’s like, ‘oh, buy my thing! Buy my thing! But really, you’re giving it,” Brault said.

Priceless. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

Relaxing massage:zero dollars; Vegan baked goods: zero dollars; Trampoline, bike, color portrait, hand-me-downs, posters, music, books, all zero dollars. Refusing the capitalist society: Priceless. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

Rosy Phinick, an English major with a minor in Queer Studies at DePaul, baked all vegan apple pie cookies, chocolate chip cookies, brownies and banana bread. She heard of the market through Bash Back!, a radical trans/queer/anarcha-feminist group.

Bash Back! described themselves to their myspace as “an anti-assimilation, sex-positive, radical group of queers, transfolk, and feminists dedicated to eradicating heteronormativity, subverting binary gender norms, capitalism and attacking intersecting oppressions including but not limited to white supremacy, patriarchy, classism, ableism, sizeism and poverty inside and outside of the movement.”

Punk folk country based group The Rust Belt Ramblers provided free music, collaborating with others on guitar, vocals and percussion. They played the later half of the market and gave away CDs of their album, Cheer Up Champ.

While it was exciting to experience the diversity of everyone’s talents and services, for some, RRFM was just a good way to eliminate hoarded relics.

Leila Nations, a student at Truman College and Radical Cheerleader said they “got most of the stuff from [their] roommates. When we all moved in, we had excess [expletive deleted].”

Out-of-towners Loren Hall and girlfriend Sarah Lann used RRFM as an opportunity to get crafty. The couple picked up arctic cod liver oil to share with RRFM community. Though they live in Massachusetts, the travelers have been a part of several area activist events including Glamour Queer.

Bash Back! member Lily Wilcock tests out the bounce on a really really free trampoline. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

Bash Back! member Lily Wilcock tests out the bounce on a really really free trampoline. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

The activist community overlapped at RRFM. Food Not Bombs, a self-proclaimed revolutionary group that shares free food and protests poverty and war, showed and served up homemade vegan dishes. The group stood under a sign proclaiming “Comida No Migra” which means food does not migrate. The Radical Cheerleaders also made an appearance. Cheers like “Pervert” collected crowds and got everyone energized.

“We’re fed up, and we want change,” activist Lily Wilcock of Bash Back! said. The RRFM and Food Not Bombs are concerned with gentrification, police brutality and anti-assimilation, according to Wilcock.

“Above all, we don’t want to assimilate,” Wilcock said.

Though, it was everyone else who seemed to be assimilating to RRFM on Sunday. Many passersby stopped to inquire about what was going on, and upon discovering the freeness, some even loaded up grocery carts.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Wicker Park resident and RRFM bystander, Harry Callion said. “It’s good to see bartering still going on; it was the first money system in the world.”

RRFM participant Zak Eveland offered music lessons on basic guitar theory for free. The bike to his left now has a happy owner. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

RRFM participant Zak Eveland offered music lessons on basic guitar theory for free. The bike to his left now has a happy owner. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

Getting involved in future RRFM events can take either as much or as little preparation as you’re willing and capable of providing. One option is to collect unused goods from family and friends or to prepare a meal or instrument lesson. These are not last minute options because they take some planning beforehand.

Since no money is accepted for trade at the RRFM, things are given away instead of, and without, a monetary transaction. This means that even if you have nothing to share with the community, you won’t be excluded from the activities.

Copyright 2008

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