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(en) US, Pittsburgh, Media, Anarchists' Picnic a Melting Pot of Ideas

Date Tue, 03 Jul 2007 10:36:46 +0300

Eighty-five people attended; maybe the movement's growing, or maybe it was just a nice day Monday, July 02, 2007 --- To someone walking through Schenley Park in Oakland yesterday, the gathering at the Anderson Pavilion might have looked like any other Fourth of July picnic -- food, kids, Frisbees and fun, even a
three-legged race. --- Of course, there also was that big black banner with giant letters proclaiming "Anarchy." ---- The third annual anarchist picnic -- an alternative Fourth of July event attracted about 85 people, more than in past years. It might be a reflection of the growing movement. Or it might have been just a really nice day. ---Alex Bradley, 27, of Bloomfield, has been involved in all three of the picnics and was one of the three speakers who addressed the gathering, sharing the message of the voluntary association of individuals rather than life under a coercive government.

"This is the largest anarchist event that happens in Pittsburgh each
year, especially nonprotest," Mr. Bradley said. "It's an all-ages event,
where everybody is welcome."

Those attending were members of many socially minded projects in Western
Pennsylvania, including the Thomas Merton Center, Pittsburgh Organizing
Group, Free Ride, "Rustbelt Radio" and Food Not Bombs.

"A lot of people here work on really different projects and they don't
get the chance to interact a lot during the year," Mr. Bradley said.
"One group feeds the homeless, another works for peace, others are
involved in the political process. They have different, divergent purposes."

Jessica McPherson, 27, of Garfield, works with "Rustbelt Radio," a
weekly radio program that covers "news from the grass-roots that is
overlooked by the corporate media." She's also part of Free Ride, a
bicycle recycling program.

"There are a lot of different groups and people with different ideas
here, but there is an over-arcing similarity," she said. "And it's nice
to get in touch with people with similar ideas who are doing similar
work that I might not see day to day in the projects I work with.

"It's also nice to have an alternative celebration. There's a lot of
blind patriotism about the Fourth of July and not a lot of
introspection. People need to remember what it means. We're celebrating
freedom, but are we taking away freedoms? We're celebrating democracy,
but are we building democracy or damaging democracy?"

Mr. Bradley acknowledged that there is a "popular perception" about
anarchists that works against them and their cause.

"We're pretty much like everyone else, when you get down to it," said
Mr. Bradley, who works 40 hours a week in a post office. "We're not
about living in the woods and writing crazy manifestos.

"A lot of people think it's about violence, disorder, chaos, people
doing whatever they want. But, at its root, it's about direct democracy.
Anarchists are not anti-organization. They're anti-hierarchy. People get
that confused because most organizations are hierarchical."

In fact, a little organization can be a good thing, he said, especially
when putting together a picnic.

"You need some communication and organization," he said. "That way we
don't have 25 bags of chips.

"I would have preferred that there had been some hot dogs. But it's
pot-luck and people can only bring so much. I ate a lot of brownies."

And the anarchists' Fourth of July message? It's anything but anti-American.

"Just because I have issues with the U.S. government now doesn't mean I
want to bring the king of England back," Mr. Bradley said.
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