It's been a year, but it feels like yesterday since Kirsten Brydum passed away.
Kirsten was one of my best friends and the founder of the San Francisco Really Really Free Market.We helped coordinate this event for several years. She also started a sliding scale community cafe called Access Cafe. Together she and I coordinated a small free skool and infoshop called Dirty Dove, named after the ubiquitous resilient city doves we call pigeons. We tried and failed to save the most radically progressive college in the country, New College.
Before she was brutally murdered in New Orleans, Kirsten was traveling on a shoestring budget across the country on a tour. The concept was called Collective Autonomy, which surpassed ideological boundaries in an attempt to connect all sorts of grassroots mutual aid projects in the US, defying the notion that we must ask for permission or wait for a politician to be voted into office in order to take care of each other.
Kirsten dove into her most idealistic activist work with furious passion. She wasn't looking for a nonprofit career. She was looking to foster a movement that demonstrates we are more powerful than we ever dreamed to change the world.
On the same day as the Really Really Free Market, I helped host the first Festival of Grassroots Economics, a sort of collective autonomy from capitalism here in the Bay Area. No doubt she would have been proud.
It eases my mind to know that her murder which mostly likely stemmed from rage against severe economic and racial oppression, is now turning into all kinds of positive fruition. New Orleans had its first Really Really Free Market in her honor one year later as some kind of poetic justice.
And I am emboldened by her spirit. I used to have a fire lit under me that made me burst into Legislators' offices and yell at their staff about how corrupt they were. And then the spirit waned a bit, weary from years of activism and many failed fights perhaps subconsciously questioning whether to stick my neck out for a battle that would most likely be lost. But she sparked me constantly to stand up and fight and to be as radical as I could possibly be and to believe that things could so radically be better- the Really Really Free Market for 4 hours a month is proof. But in this I no longer have a female counterpart, as we were called the towers of power - an ironic label for we were both very tiny women.
I've spent the last year and half myself fighting for my life against Lyme disease which has its own economic roots that I won't get into. Capitalism indeed nearly killed me. But somehow I survived and she is gone. May we all be lit by her fire, put aside our petty self concerns and start this movement.
Kirsten liked the term immediatism. That means the time is now. You don't wait until you have enough money in the bank, you don't wait until you get the right job, you don't wait until after your favorite TV show is over or you get to take a vacation. You just do it now. Now is all you've got. If you think you've got years to make the world a better place, you are wrong. The world needs you now more than ever. Your community needs you now more than ever. And you might not be around in a couple of years. Kirsten at age 25 healthy and myself at age 32 healthy proved that. I was the luckier one, but now I need to, we all need to carry her work forward.
That will be the real justice.