BAAM #35: Celebrating 30 Years of Food Not Bombs

The following article was printed in Issue #35 of The BAAM Newsletter. Learn more about BAAM at their website:

On May 23rd 2010, the Boston Chapter of Food Not Bombs celebrated the movement’s 30th anniversary with a one-day festival on the Boston Common. The event brought a couple thousand people to the park for the day to take part in a whole myriad of activities.

Things got kicked off early at the Really Really Free Market organized by BAAM (Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement). Before the festival had even started people began exchanging goods at the Free Market amidst the volunteers coming to set everything up. A Really Really Free Market uses the concept of the gift economy, whereby people who own an excess of items give them away to people who lack those items. There is no value put on any items and no tally put to who takes what. Gift economics is a revolutionary practice that has been in existence for ages.

At noon, things got kicked off with the first musical acts of the day. Three were two stages of live music going simultaneously with full schedules of performers on each stage. One stage was powered from the bandstand on the Common and the other used the Sustainable Sound bicycle-powered PA system.

Not long after this the first workshops of the day started. There were amazing workshops throughout the day and almost all of them were very well attended. Jules started things of with her workshop titled “Capitalism Makes Us Sick,” Matt did a Fermentation workshop at the same time. We also had workshops on Sprouting your Food, Tenants’ Rights, Composting, Urban Gardening, how to start a Food Not Bombs, and a “fishbowl” style meeting of the homeless community on the Boston.

The Boston Food Not Bombs group also put together a sort of history exhibit with a giant story book chronicling the last 30 years. There was a timeline where visitors could add their own experiences to the story. And of course, there was an enormous free meal. Over 1000 people were served, and it was all gone in a little over two hours.

The day closed with speeches from some members of Boston’s homeless community who are part of the Leadership Campaign, a grassroots organizing group for homeless based out of Eccelsia Ministries in St. Paul’s Cathedral. After them, Modern Times Theatre—all the way from Vermont—did a wildly hilarious puppet show on issues surrounding food security.

On May 24th, 1980 activists from Boston/Cambridge came together at an occupation of the Seabrook Power Plant in Seabrook, NH. Later the group began serving meals in Boston and became known as Food Not Bombs.

Overall, most members of Food Not Bombs thought the day was very successful. The biggest question now, is whether or not to do it again next year.