Sunday, September 2, 2012

An Open Letter on the Open Call

God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.
—Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

This past Friday, August 31, the Ann Arbor Free Skool, under the aegis of my roommate and dear friend, the inexhaustible Hanah Zinn, held an open call at the Basin. The goal, in administrative parlance, was meeting, greeting, and recruiting. Flyers for the event were colorful and sundry. A lineup of terrific local bands was arranged; a local shadow puppeteer and an Ypsi-based painter demonstrated their crafts. T-shirts were spray painted with handmade stencils; buttons were designed and created; acro-yoga was performed and taught in the backyard. Pirate radio, wireless mesh networks and other outrages to the commercial powers-that-be were openly discussed.

Any broken-hearted idealist (like me) would have been awakened by what the event represented, what it felt like: the marriage of ideals and action we've sought for so long.

The Ann Arbor Free Skool is that marriage. It is the free and nonjudgmental expression of the individual and collective talent. The foundational belief is that we are all good at something, all capable of teaching something, and furthermore that we all want to learn something we are not good at. It's what the internet would be if it were actually real, if it were all people. We don't Google how to tie a knot or write a short story; we ask our fellow free skooler how and, whether they know the answer or not, we forge a connection and make a friend.

There is in your community an organization that is determined to disseminate your knowledge and skill to the populace, free of fear. We have no interest in turning a profit off of your hard work. We won't sit around making excuses for why X won't work or worrying that Y will get us arrested. We're just gonna do it, fait accompli, no apologies, like good Mitt Romney supporters (just kidding).

In a sea of one-time fees and activation costs and daily deals that get the average human being nowhere, the Ann Arbor Free Skool is a floating oasis of enlightenment and freedom, and we respectfully invite you to participate, or at least dance along to the band. For our efforts, The Basin received a noise violation—another way for the police to skim a few extra dollars off of a good time. But in the larger scope of what the Free Skool could become, with the help of its community, they ain't heard nothin' yet.

                                                                                                   —Bryan Kelly
                                                                                                              Mayoral Candidate, 2026

Note from the inexhaustible Hanah Zinn:
We will be contesting the noise violation issued that night.  If you would like to serve as a witness on behalf of what was a respectful and non-intrusive gathering, be at the 15th District Court (301 E Huron) on Monday, Sept. 10 @ 10:15 AM sharp.


  1. Thank you for doing this! and yes.. it was a very respectful and non-intrusive event. I simply can not believe that the police showed up.


  2. All the fun we had at the Open Call Party will be extended to the upcoming DIY Fest on Oct 6th (YES!). The butterflies in my belly are dancing at the thought of all the mental cartwheels, partying synapses, and skill slinging. We're gonna dance till the cows come home! (and when they do, we'll teach each other how to dance with cows!)