Groovin' in the park
Tie dying T-shirts is nothing new for Ben and Jesse Brown. Ben, 12, and Jesse, 7, have trussed up T-shirts in rubber bands and dabbed them with dyes on numerous occasions in day camp and after school programs. Their mother, Chris Brown, however, ...
Tie dying T-shirts is nothing new for Ben and Jesse Brown.
Ben, 12, and Jesse, 7, have trussed up T-shirts in rubber bands and dabbed them with dyes on numerous occasions in day camp and after school programs.
Their mother, Chris Brown, however, had never had such an opportunity until she attended the tie dye and folk festival held by the People Escaping Poverty Project in Fargo's Lindenwood Park Saturday.
Even though the Fargo-Moorhead area was teeming with graduation parties and open houses, over 100 people showed up Saturday to learn the craft that was used in the 1960s and '70s as an expression of a civil rights era.
Duke Schempp and Lysa Ringquist, director and co-founder of PEPP, decided to use the craft of tie dying to pull the F-M community together for several reasons: It was something they both knew how to do, something that people of all ages and backgrounds could enjoy and a craft associated with an era of social upheaval.
"The '70s were about average people getting involved and questioning the government's actions," Ringquist said.
"Today adults have become complacent, thinking that things have changed. People with low incomes know that things haven't. When you're poor, you notice (the problems.)"
Along with the cloth-dying extravaganza, this year's festivities included grilled franks, watermelon (that was donated), lemonade and three hours of socially conscious folk music provided by local bands.
All proceeds from the event will go toward PEPP's social action programs, such as hosting community activities in impoverished neighborhoods throughout the region and teaching underprivileged youths how to become politically active.
In the past, PEPP's tie-dye-days were held in various communities free of charge.
This was the first year PEPP charged an admission fee.
Ringquist, who lived on welfare for many years and used to be a single parent, was uncomfortable with the idea of charging people.
Pepo Saaveda, a musician from Puerto Rico and former PEPP associate, explained that the organization needs the support.
"Whenever you have a grass roots organization its needs change from year to year," he said.
"It's great for people to come over and do something for the community."
Of course, people who showed up without the necessary funds for the event weren't turned away.
"Some people donated extra money, so we told a few people (who couldn't afford it) to just come in," Schempp said.
Dhidha Timona, a recent Minnesota State University graduate and head of Support International, volunteered to help out at the event and encouraged his peers to do the same.
"The idea of helping people to escape poverty is a good one," said Kenyan-born Timona.
"There are a lot of homeless people that need assistance. Awareness is raised by getting to know one another."
Saaveda, who worked with young migrant workers in the F-M community two years ago before leaving for the Peace Corps, said, "When I left the living conditions were getting harder. (The migrant workers) had to live in town and the rents were getting higher."
"In this community we need to create more options for affordable housing," said Per Halaas, youth organizer for PEPP since January and member of the band "Villains."
"It's time for the Fargo-Moorhead area to wake up and realize what a lackluster place this is to live if you can't afford to live here."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Lisa Schneider at (701) 241-5529