Everybody said they had never seen anything in Rochester quite like yesterday’s Activism Fair at the Visual Studies Workshop.
At 10 a.m., 52 activist groups set up tables. Over the next several hours, between 450 – 600 people came through the doors to celebrate citizen participation at its most patriotic.
It was great to see lots of friends. Ubiquitous Alex White (Campaign Canvassing) was manning the Green Party booth. Alex said he hasn’t witnessed such a crowd of progressive people since the Occupy Movement in Washington Square Park several years ago. And never one encompassing such a wide range of social justice groups and supporters.
Ray Ray Mitrano (Fake Election) hadn’t seen such a large crowd in the VSW Auditorium since he administered the Fake Election in November. From what I heard, the results of the real election — with the Inauguration just around the corner — motivated many to come to the Activism Fair.
Ravi Mangla, ROCitizen (and Citizenship in Action) thought the event was perhaps the first of its kind in the region, And, he heard that Geneseo is already planning an Activism Fair. The concept is spreading.
Justin Delinois (Liberty Pole Way) came by after attending the James Sheppard for Mayor announcement. Justin was almost breathless when looking at the streams of people filling the auditorium. Justin felt, at least for this afternoon, he was watching Rochester united.
Rajesh Barnabas, Rochester Indy Media (and ZOOM), has also never seen such a full range of participation. Like a few others, Rajesh noted this Fair was somewhat similar to Metro Justice’s Alternative Fair.
But with one big difference. The Alternative Fair sells actual goods, while, as Rajesh said, the Activism Fair was just selling ideas. And people were buying.
Jack Bratigan Spula (Electoral College) couldn’t remember such an event in years. And, as Jack said, he’s been in the activism game for a long time. Many of the Rochester old guard activists were there. The mixing of the generations added to the electricity in the air.
The event organizer, Athesia Benjamin, wrote during the day:
The sea of humanity currently at the Rochester Activism Fair is a beautiful thing!! The next step will be to plug in somewhere, and stay at it!
Photographer Ralph Thompson of Gallery 74 kindly provides a montage of the Activism Fair: