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!

18 Bitcoin Wallets Installed, Hundreds Flyered @ Cheshire Fair 2015

Bitcoin Booth 2015 Team

Bitcoin Booth 2015 Team

Last year, Keene liberty activists manned a bitcoin outreach booth at the Cheshire Fair. In that five days, we installed a grand total of three bitcoin wallets (though we did hand out hundreds of bitcoin flyers). This year, we did it again and installed eighteen wallets, had dozens of great conversations, and shared bitcoin intro flyers with hundreds more fair attendees! Despite a couple of minor issues, the fair outreach booth went swimmingly! A couple of people used the original Keene bitcoin vending machine at the fair, and many others were directed to the BVM at 101 Deals Thrift Store for future purchases.

Fair attendees had plenty of good questions and our professional staff of bitcoin-enthusiasts had answers, including Derrick J Freeman and Chris Cantwell. Thanks to all the folks who helped with the booth and everyone who stopped by. If you want to meet with other area bitcoiners, drop into the Keene Bitcoin Network group on Facebook.

VICE Covers Buzz’s Gay Dance Party!


Buzz, of Buzz’s Big Gay Dance Party, beaming at the final party. _Photo Courtesy VICE

In at least their fourth story in the last few years related to the Free State Project, the excellent has focused in on the amazing Buzz’s Big Gay Dance Party which had its final of six years this year at the Porcupine Freedom Festival.  Porcfest will continue, perhaps with a new epic party – only time will tell.

For now, enjoy Michelle Lhooq’s report on Buzz’s final awesome bash and the photos (then come to Hallowkeene at Keenevention 2015!)

For additional perspective on being gay at Porcfest, visit Joe Jarvis’ blog of his experience at this year’s week-long camping festival populated by mostly libertarians and voluntarists.  If you love liberty, regardless of sexual orientation, you’ll probably really enjoy Porcfest.

Here’s the excellent story about the BGDP from VICE.

Memorial Day Parade Peace Contingent Grows to Record Size

For the fourth year, a peace contingent has marched at the end of the Memorial Day parade in downtown Keene – this year with record participation!  Three liberty-friendly families came out to participate, including Free State Project early movers.  As with previous years, reception was mostly warm with plenty of waves, smiles, and thank yous.  Of course, there was the requisite heckler and a few snide comments – one woman told her kids “don’t even look at them”, and turned around and walked away!

Multiple peace flags were carried and worn and signage included memorials to a father and grandfather and “Stop the US War Machine”. Thanks to all the participants and see you next year!


2015 Peace Contingent Gathers Prior to Parade

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