A different kind of holiday fair: POOR Magazine’s Mercado de Cambio

Pub date December 19, 2011
SectionPixel Vision

“Welcome to the revolution,” says Mariposa Villaluna as she staffed a table at POOR News Network’s annual holiday market and knowledge exchange on Saturday, Dec. 17. “We’ve been doing this for centuries.”

Villaluna, who has worked with POOR on many of its community art, education, and journalism initiatives geared towards low and no-income San Franciscans, described Saturday’s “Po’ Sto” as an alternative to more widespread – and more consumerism-oriented – holiday sales. 

At the Po’ Sto’, which occupied the third floor of the Mission District’s Redstone Building, she trades her handmade earrings for radical talk and fellow artists’ wares. For barter or sale: cotton onesies boldly disseminate at 62 Occupy sites. 

Villaluna said the guide is a primer of sorts to sustaining an inclusive revolution and provides Occupy encampments with oft-neglected perspectives — those of the elderly, indigenous, and undocumented. 

POOR News Network, a response to corporate control of media, includes a magazine, offers training in alternative journalism, and stages community gatherings like Saturday’s holiday market. 

Twinkling strands of lights hung behind the young men rapping at the front of the market. A huge roast chicken slowly shrank in a corner. And those who hold POOR’s mission close to their hearts –from five-year olds to 60-year olds – called out to each other across the space. 

Next up for POOR, says the magazine’s co-editor Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia, is the realization of a decades-long dream. It will be called Homefulness and it will entail a community-driven space in Oakland that will hold a garden, school, journalism training center, and yes, homes. 

“Poverty is an industry nowadays,” says Gray-Garcia. “Our purpose is to launch microbusiness economies, to collectivize our forces and our traditions.”