When funders of the spring activist conference for high school students in Petaluma, CA, mandated that presenters represent all points of the political spectrum, two of the student organizers left and made their own gathering. Hosted at the Phoenix Theatre, about 40 people from around the Bay gathered to share and learn skills. Slingshot was there to table and I got to meet lots of great people!
If you’ve never had reason to visit Petaluma, the Phoenix is definitely a high point. Once a playhouse, the space has been gutted (all the floor seats are gone) and repainted with graffiti and murals. Skate ramps line the walls, and angsty, youthful scrawlings cover the bathroom walls. It was, simply, the perfect place to gather punks and other young radicals.
The conference lived up to its location. After a breakfast from Food Not Bombs, the organizers outlined the day and everyone introduced themselves. The crowd was small enough to be personal, but also a good turn out. The day hosted about a dozen workshops on a variety of topics. Presenters came from Berkeley copwatch, Santa Rosa FNB, Project Censored, the local feminist club, gun control supporters, and students against GMO’d food. The knowledge in the crowd collectively was quite impressive. Besides workshops, there were also activist groups tabling and a radical, portable bookstore. I definitely left feeling confident that a few people, a good idea and a little bit of food can bring people together.