Responding to Vandalized Rainbow Benches, UCC Launches #onthebench Selfie Contest!

Jazzy Girl on the Rainbow Bench!

Jazzy Girl on the Rainbow Bench!

This morning, Christopher Cornell of the United Church of Christ at the head of Central Square in Downtown Keene announced a really cool selfie contest in response to  continued vandalization of their rainbow benches in Elsie Priest Park, just behind the UCC on Church St.

At least one unknown vandal in her sixties has been caught in the act of painting the rainbow bench in red.  She ran to her red compact car and took off.  The bench was subsequently painted rainbow by more volunteers, then attacked by the vandal(s) again, and so on.  The church has plenty of paint and volunteers.  Love will win over hate.

UCC administrator Mark C. Harris explained in a post to the church blog that the benches were painted rainbow this summer by volunteers and that they represent that, “We want everyone to feel welcome to use the park. This is in good keeping with our belief that all of God’s children are beloved, no matter who they are, or where they are on life’s journey. All are welcome, no matter their gender, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, sexual orientation, difference in abilities, religion or absence thereof.”

Renee Kate and Jazzy on the Rainbow Bench!

Renee Kate and Jazzy Showing Love > Hate

Today the benches are rainbow and people who side with love have been invited by the UCC to visit them and take a selfie, and post it on social media tagged with #onthebench.  there are prizes, and the contest for the best selfie ends Saturday September 5th, at 10pm, which coincides with the end of the Keene Music Festival.

Speculation abounds as to the motivation of the vandal(s) – it’s easy to jump to a conclusion and say it’s someone with an anti-gay sentiment, but longtime readers of this blog will also recall the controversy back in 2009 when local entrepreneur Dorrie O’Meara launched her Mexican restaurant Pedraza’s.  Some people around town were upset because O’Meara painted her building yellow!  Certain grumpy people in this area seem to hate colors besides brick red and gray.

Ian Freeman and Jazzy at the Rainbow Bench

Take this, vandals!

Cornell said in an interview for Free Keene that he thinks the first time the the vandal(s) struck, the benches were fully painted red, but that since then the vandal(s) have only painted over the yellow part.  He’s losing track of the amount of times the benches have been vandalized, but thinks it may have been at least six times, all since the beginning of August.

Smart move on the UCC’s part to make this into a hopefully-viral phenomenon.  The vandals, whatever the hate they carry in their hearts, probably weren’t expecting these benches to turn into a movement!

The Shire Free Church is joining in solidarity with the UCC and all those who support love over hate, so I went out with Renee Kate and Jazzy the Studio Dog for a photo shoot this afternoon.  Remember to tag your bench selfies with #onthebench on your social media posts.

Stay tuned to Free Keene for the latest on this controversy. Last year it was chalk causing controversy, this year it’s rainbows!

Hate Won’t Hurt Heroin

The War on Drugs is a failure.

The War on Drugs is a failure.

There’s a new page on facebook called “Save NH – Keene Hates Heroin“. Surely the group’s creators have the best of intentions, but hate only hurts the hater. It won’t hurt heroin. Only love will solve the heroin problem. These folks should reconsider their beliefs.

Ending the war on drugs is a good first step to removing a major barrier (fear of arrest) to addicts getting help. Let’s start by treating addicts with compassion. Hatred is not helping.

Church of the Invisible Hand founder and Shire Free Church minister Rich Paul wrote an excellent blog post on the matter while he was behind bars. He was jailed for a year for selling cannabis flowers – the cops and FBI even let a heroin dealer go free so they could bust Rich.

Rich’s blog is titled, “Reducing the Incidence and Impact of Heroin Abuse” – don’t miss it.

-Posted today to the Shire Free Church facebook page.

Keene’s Music Fest Combines with Art in the Park This Saturday

art_fests_2015Two of the biggest events of the Summer in Keene have come together on the same day – “Keene Music Festival” and “Art in the Park” are both this Saturday!

Both festivals are still in their respective locations, with Music Fest‘s stages being spread throughout downtown Keene from 11am to 10pm and Art in the Park in nearby, beautiful Ashuelot Park from 10am to 4pm (Art in the Park also happens Sunday).

According to the president of the Monadnock Area Artists Association, Wendi Hulslander, the decision to hold both events on the same day was deliberate. Seems like a smart move – lots of people come to town for each festival, so why not have them on the same day so people can cross-pollinate between the two and enjoy a big day full of art in Keene?

If you love music and visual art, you won’t want to be anywhere but Keene this weekend.

Union Leader editorial expresses disappointment with Court ruling

The New Hampshire Union-Leader published an editorial, expressing disappointment that the Libertarian Party’s ballot access case lost in U.S. District Court on August 27, and suggested the prohibition on collecting petitions before the year of the election be repealed.
It is very likely the Libertarian Party will appeal.

You can read the editorial here.

Rob Mathias to Host the Secession Panel @ Keenevention 2015

Robert MathiasFoundation for New Hampshire Independence board member Robert Mathias reprises his role as the host of the Secession Panel at Keenevention! How can we bring secession to the forefront? Bring your questions for his panel of secession advocates. Panelists to be announced.

Keenevention is Hallowkeene weekend, October 30th through November 1st. Tickets for the third-annual Keenevention are just $60 or BTC for the whole weekend, including the Hallowkeene costume dance party! Pre-event ticketing is limited to 100, so lock yours in now.

Stay tuned to the Keenevention blog for more announcements, including more panels and another keynote speaker. You can also follow Keenevention’s facebook page and join the official facebook event here.

101 Deals is Now Selling Mennonite Sheds Buy or Rent to Own

shedsAre you looking for a shed? Winter’s coming, get yours today before the snow falls.
Why pay storage fees when you can buy your own building and have it conveniently located at your house or place of business?

We offer high-quality professionally built Mennonite sheds that you can buy or rent to own.
We have what you need: multiple types, sizes, colors, and other options.
We can even custom build what you want.

All 8 Foot wide buildings come with a single door.
All 10, 12, 14 wide doors come with double doors.

All sheds are priced delivered within 30 miles of 661 Marlboro Street Keene, NH 03431.
Delivery beyond 30 miles is $2 per mile.
All sheds have a 5-year warranty.
Sheds are made with treated material and have a lifetime warranty against termites and fungal decay.

Rent to own with no credit checks, first month’s rent, and just a security deposit. $100 on 8′ and 10′ Foot Buildings, $200 on 12′ Wide Buildings, and $700 on 14′ Wide buildings

Cash, checks, credit cards (3% extra) accepted.

For more information please visit http://sheds.101.deals

Now you can subscribe to Free Keene via email!

I probably should have done this years ago, but better late than never. You can now have each new post to Free Keene delivered to your email box – it’s easy:

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Now you can subscribe to Free Keene via email!

Don't miss a single post!