What was once a roundtable among friends in December 2017 is now a two-year-old operation that meets on the final Tuesday of every month and is at once efficient, caring and festive.
And after April’s gathering at First United Methodist Church, Solidarity Share Fair will be looking for a new winter home to serve the 200 to 300 men and women who monthly seek a respite from the cold grind of life.
Solidarity Share Fair — a Neighborhood Anarchist Collective gathering that, according to the NAC website, “strives to grow the anarchist movement… by providing a welcoming environment for education and participation” — offers free resources and services from local organizations and community groups to unhoused and working-class men, women and families.
Volunteers gather clothing, food and other items.
“I have found some amazing clothing at Share Fair,” says Jen Denson, a volunteer. Denson also finds a “dignity of shopping” at Share Fair. “You’re treated like a human.”
There also is food from Burrito Brigade, haircuts, messages and sometimes music. Throughout the past two years, Share Fair has enlisted the help of such nonprofits as Sexual Assault Support Services, Womenspace, Occupy Medical, HIV Alliance and Food Not Bombs.
“The problems we have,” says Charles Denson of Burrito Brigade, “we have solutions in our community.”
After starting in the basement at First Christian Church in early 2018, Share Fair moved to its summer home at Monroe Park, then to its winter home at First United Methodist Church.
Katy McGuire, a founding member of Share Fair, notes First United Methodist is expanding its daycare operations, which squeezes out Share Fair.
“We appreciate their partnership,” McGuire says of First United. “They really helped us a lot.”
According to an email from Denson, Share Fair is looking for space that is accessible to most people. “Ideally, it would be near downtown or the Whiteaker area. We also need a space with a kitchen.”
McGuire says Share Fair has been “reaching out to many churches,” and that she is emphasizing the organization’s professionalism.
“We bring the event from start to finish,” she says. “We’re reliable.”
Denson echoes that sentiment. “We have the mindset to leave the place better than we found it,” he says.
McGuire speaks fondly of Solidarity Share Fair’s start, especially praising the Rev. Dan Bryant at First Christian Church, who is retiring in April.
“Dan Bryant was the only one who wrote back,” McGuire says of Share Fair’s early efforts to get off the ground. “He totally helped us get to the next stage.”
Now Solidarity Share Fair is looking to expand its stage.
Solidarity Share Fair meets on the final Tuesday of every month. Its next gathering, on the organization’s two-year anniversary, is 3 pm to 6:30 pm, Feb. 25 at First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive Street. More information about Solidarity Share Fair can be found at NeighborhoodAnarchists.org/sharefair and BurritoBrigade.org/sharefair. Both organizations are also on Facebook.