Stubble: What is the MARS Collective and how are you involved?
Sarah: The Minneapolis Autonomous Radical Space (MARS) Collective establishes spaces for use by local people to strengthen cultures of resistance by actively challenging capitalism, heteropatriachy, white supremacy, economic injustice, and other forms of domination and oppression. The most recent project was the Minnehaha Free Space. I got involved in 2011 when I was part of a discussion group. I did a lot of childcare and kid-centered events like Youth Space. I joined the collective a few years later, but I don’t remember when. And I’ve stayed involved ever since.
Stubble: What went on at the Minnehaha Free Space?
Sarah: There were open hours when people could come in and use the computers, library, kitchen, etc. and there were specific events, either hosted by MARS or by other groups using the space. There were some music shows, lectures, films, Food Not Bombs, and book groups and activist groups that met regularly there.
Stubble: Do you have a favorite memory, or an example of a time when you were at
the space and thought “ah ha! This is what it’s all about.”
Sarah: I have a lot of fond memories. Youth Space was awesome. On Saturday afternoons parents and caregivers would just drop off their kids and we would do crafts and have dance parties with the kids. The Fred Hampton remembrance event with was an amazing night because the place was packed and there were such powerful poets and spoken word artists. We also had a fundraiser for Wesley Martin, the guy who was shot by white supremacists at the 4th Precinct. A lot of people brought food and there was so much food we couldn’t fit it on the tables. So many folks stayed late talking about how to strengthen the resistance. It’s so important to come together like that after a tragedy to heal and show up for each other.
Stubble: Why did Minnehaha Free Space close and are there any plans to reopen a
new space in the future?
Sarah: We were pushed out of Longfellow neighborhood by gentrification. The building was sold and the new landlord said he was raising our rent 83%. We are fundraising and trying to find a new space.
Stubble: Why is radical space important?
Sarah: People need spaces to be and meet up with others who care about what they care about. This oppressive system forces people to work or be consumers when they interact with other people, and that makes us complacent and docile. Government and corporations take power and create systems which favor some voices over others. We are finding ourselves in a situation where fascism is on the rise, and most media reinforce that power. We need a place to organize actions, to create our own media, to learn about each other’s struggles so we can care for each other and turn shit around.
Stubble: What’s the state of radical spaces in Minneapolis today? It sort of seems to me they’re becoming harder to find, but maybe that impermanence is the whole nature of a collective free space – one closes up and another starts up in another place?
Sarah: I’m not sure how to answer this one…
Help support the MARS Collective’s campaign to re-open the Free Space here.