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API discusses anarchy, trans rights

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Since 2008, All Power to the Imagination (API) conference has been held over a weekend in the spring semester on New College’s campus. The conference is aimed at discussing leftist radical theories, with a purpose of “connecting theory to practice” according to the group’s official page. This year’s conference, held between the 29th of April and the 1st of May, included among its programming an open-mic night held at the Four Winds, and a trans rights march in downtown Sarasota.

Alum and API founder James Birmingham (‘06) began the program alongside alums Jacqueline Wang (‘06) and  Kotu Bajaj (‘06), “all anarchist people of color,” Birmingham said. The three students had participated in a panel as part of the National Conference on Organized Resistance (NCOR) in 2007, and “were inspired to bring something like that to the south-east.”

“We asked Sarah Hernandez to sponsor a tutorial on conference organizing, and that tutorial became API,” Birmingham said.

Since then, the conference has persevered, supported by a steady stream of New College students as well as local anarchists within the community. Second-year Ava Howard joined the organizational team for the conference this year, along with Birmingham. “I was much more involved in facilitation [this year] than I was last year,” Howard said. “The weekend played out well despite having less student organizers and volunteers than I’ve seen before.”

Less volunteers did not mean less attendees. “If we count the students who come eat just the free food, quite a lot [attended],” Birmingham said. “There are generally around 100 participants, most of which are folks from around the region rather than New College affiliates. Several New College alums presented this year as well.”

Such alums included Hannah Brown, who presented a panel called ‘Labor, Education Politics, and Digital Campaigns’, as well as Birmingham himself, who presented a panel on Anarchist Archaeology.

Current thesis students Anna Rodriguez (‘12) and Wilmarie Rios Jaime (‘12) also presented at a panel, alongside alum Catherine Wolfe (‘10), on reproductive justice.

“This year we set up the schedule into tracks so that people could, if they chose, focus on a specific range of topics,” Howard explained. “We had a number of presenters speaking on anarchism, and set up a track that started with an Introduction to Anarchy. and ended with contemporary issues and theories in the subject. We also had a track on modern practice and activism, and many workshops focused on creation and art.”

“I hope next year that we are able to bring even more of a diverse group of presenters and topics of presentations,” Howard said, “but I think we did well with the proposals we got, and I am so glad that we were able to be more present in the community.” Howard referred to the Trans Solidarity March, held on the final day of the conference. API also protested at Wendy’s alongside the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), who have been boycotting Wendy’s over unfair labor practices and payment.

“ It’s all free, dinner, the presentations, the nighttime events, so people come and go,” Howard said.

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