Free Market (noun): an economic system in which goods and services are bought and sold in an open market without regulatory restrictions
Really Really Free Market (noun): a nation-wide social movement and a monthly event in Powderhorn Park in which goods and services are exchanged for free
Adam thinks we can change the world by giving things away. An actor and substitute teacher sporting a bushy beard, he is one of the organizers of the Really Really Free Market in Powderhorn Park, held every second (sometimes third) Sunday of the month. These events, modeled on RRFMs happening nationwide, invite people to, “Bring what you can, take what you need”:
It’s like a swap meet, a potluck, and a block party all rolled into one! Bring stuff you want to share, take whatever you need. Everyone has old stuff lying around, taking up space, and never getting used. Why not share it with someone? (http://tcfreemarket.wordpress.com/)
Situated by the central stage area that played host to the May Day pageant at the beginning of the month, objects were spread in the sunlight. Some clothing was folded with care, but mostly the scene was filled with unorganized heaps of clothes, bike tires, toys, CDs, romance novels, and more. People stood over an ever-shifting series of piles, which grew and shrank in mere moments as “shoppers” bent over to unearth treasures beneath detritus.
“We live in a simultaneously abundant and wasteful society,” Adam Briesemeister explained. For him, the RRFM is a temporary oasis, a gift economy in which people give freely because they can. “Our best interactions and experiences are free,” he continued, describing the RRFM as alternative to commercial economics. “I would like to see all of society organized in this way.”
I brought three ties from my grandfather’s collection, recently heired to me, as well as a souvenir placemat with a muddy 1950s photo of a Norwegian fjord on one side and traditional Norwegian recipes on the reverse, also recently heired. With new items being added constantly, and the better items being snatched up just as quickly, spectators watched in a circle as children flitted around like bees collecting pollen.
I want to propose two observations that I gathered over the course of my visit to the Reallly Really Free Market:
1) People brought things that had value to them. It was not a place to dump trash, but rather to pass along something of value to someone else. The most magical objects were the ones imbued with stories by their donors.
2) Complete strangers, sometimes across language barriers, displayed politeness and generosity with one another. Anarcho-communists sat in the grass alongside groups of children. As Lewis Hyde posited in The Gift, a community developed around the act of giving.
Open Field, the Walker Art Center’s summer-long public engagement program opening on June 4th, 2011, is motivated by the same gift economy behind the Really Really Free Market. As a place for locally-grown expression to be exchanged between artist and audience, the Walker invites you to bring your own contributions of creativity and recreation to the Field. What gifts do you have to share with your community?
Learn more about the Really Really Free Market here: http://tcfreemarket.wordpress.com/
Learn more about Open Field here: http://www.walkerart.org/openfield