Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Anarchy on the streets! 2012 Winnipeg Anarchist BookFair and DIY Fest promises radical ideas, interesting workshop — and giant Scrabble

Get radical this weekend at the 2012 Winnipeg Anarchist BookFair and DIY Fest.
Now in its fifth year, the annual event takes place Friday, Sept. 21 to Sunday, Sept. 23, in and around the Old Market Autonomous Zone (aka the A-Zone) at 91 Albert Street, a building that’s currently the shared home of a number of activist groups, worker-owned businesses and other alternative enterprises.
Offering the opportunity to purchase books, magazines and crafts from more than 20 local and out-of-town publishers and organizations, as well as an assortment of presentations, workshops and musical performances, the book fair/fest is open to all and free to attend — save for a Sunday vegan brunch which will set you back $15.
"It’s a real chance to share ideas and be exposed to new radical ideas and writing," says Tim Brandt, 56, a volunteer with Junto Local 91, a collectively run anarchist lending library on the A-Zone’s second floor.
"Probably 75 to 80% of the people who come, come because they are already thinking about alternative concepts and radical ideas, and just want more info or to be re-inspired," he adds.
Things kick off Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. with a panel discussion on "Books that Rocked My World" featuring Chris Hannah, frontman of punk band Propagandhi, feminist and Copwatch member Shelagh Pizey-Allen, Anishinabe poet Marie Annharte Baker and Winnipeg poet Colin Smith.
The book fair begins Saturday at 11 a.m. and continues through Sunday; weather permitting, tables will be set up outside in the lot at Albert Street and Bannatyne Avenue. Meanwhile, a host of activities will be happening as part of DIY Fest and in celebration of World Car-Free Day. (Brandt says organizers are trying to make the local event as car-free as possible by recruiting volunteers to help move merchandise via bike; he’s transporting a canoe to the site to showcase another alternative to car travel. Yes, a canoe. By bike.)
Workshops will tackle such topics as community gardening, activist burnout and "hungover yoga." Brandt is particularly excited about the Anarchy and Education workshop facilitated by Pat McGuire and Heather Hall.
"Pat is a high-school social-studies teacher and his partner (Heather) is a homeschooling mother, so it’s going to be really interesting, talking about both homeschooling and institutional education and how that fits with anarchist principles," he says.
Another likely highlight is Steve Langston’s presentation. The 28-year-old spends his winters in Winnipeg and his summers in Riding Mountain National Park, and is an author, filmmaker and avid cyclist. Earlier this month, Langston and a small film crew embarked on a 17-day, 1,200-kilometre bike trip around Manitoba, during which they ate only provincially sourced foods. The team posted daily video updates at and will release a documentary in November.
Langston will be talking about the tour Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Other presenters are Montreal student organizer Jerome Raza (Saturday, 5 p.m.), speaking about the recent protests in Quebec, and author Nik Barry-Shaw (Sunday, 2 p.m.), whose new book, Paved with Good Intentions, critiques the role of NGOs.
Saturday afternoon will also feature music (singer/songwriter John K. Samson is one of several performers) and, for those who missed them at this year’s Winnipeg Folk Festival, a chance to play some of the over-sized classic board games handmade by Winnipegger Sean Strachan and friends.
While the politics on display at this year’s event will be radical, there’s no need for first-timers to feel nervous about attending: despite what’s typically depicted on TV news reports, not all anarchists are black-clad, rock-throwing trouble-makers.
"Absolutely everyone’s welcome," Brandt says. "We’re all gentle — and just interested in sharing the knowledge that there’s probably a better way to co-exist on Earth."

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