For the people by the people: May 14 ‘Art and Plant Extravaganza’ a creative space for all


“The committee that created it is made up of members of the BIPOC community, people with disabilities and the queer community. I can say with force that it is one of the only festivals of its kind where it is really created for the people, by the people with the idea of ​​inclusion at the forefront…” — Yasmin Safarzadeh

Yasamin Safarzadeh, artist, activist, educator and creator of the mural that adorns the back of Dancing Lion Chocolate on Elm Street. File photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH – Activist, artist and educator Yasmin Safarzadeh is the co-organizer of the inaugural Art and Plant Extravaganza, taking place May 14 at Brown and Mitchell Park, an event bringing together different wings of the city to center and amplify a more diverse perspective.

Safarzadeh is “digging with both hands” promoting the event as a platform to address community concerns and needs.

“We just can’t wait for local organizations or governments to pull themselves together to deal with this,” Safarzadeh explains, “the difference is that we’re not administrators, we’re not talking about heads, we’re all actually people do physical labor.

In its central position, Safarzadeh uses free transport provided by the city to help encourage customers in and around Manchester to attend the festivities. “I’m in the field, so… what are the problems? It’s transportation,” says Safarzadeh.

Anticipate a barrier-free artistic extravaganza that welcomes all walks of life.

“You know, whatever you do, it’s probably going to be there. Meet people and build your network. Pretty exciting stuff, honestly,” says Safarzadeh. The festival will provide sources of essential wellness information to some of the most vulnerable sectors of the community.

“It’s all this face-to-face information, health information for young gay men, especially with African communities, that has been a problem,” Safarzadeh said. And we know there’s a correlation between higher suicide rates, higher rates of homelessness, substance abuse among young gay men, just because the trauma there is senseless, so providing those secure spaces with access to information is great.”

A list of community partners such as thrive outdoors, CMC, The Boys and Girls Club, Manchester City mobile book , and Removals in Manchester will participate. The day’s events will include – but not be limited to – multiple activities, a free barbecue, free swag, live entertainment and items to buy where youngsters will receive “Center City Bucks”, monetary tokens in wood, which the young participants use like money. “We are going to give this to our youth and young adults so that they have autonomy in their spending,” says Safarzadeh.

I had the opportunity to interview Safarzadeh about the next festival.

Yasmin Safarzadeh

CC: Let’s talk about the May 14 event.

YS: The committee that created it is made up of BIPOC peeps, people with disabilities and members of the queer community and it was created for the same community. I can say emphatically that it’s one of the only festivals of its kind where it’s actually created for the people by the people, and we’ve done a really good job of breaking down the barriers. One of the things that I am responsible for, and that I am very proud of, is that we have identified young leaders, mothers and fathers who are all affected by this event and who will be compensated for their time and efforts. , which is a really nice thing.

We also create money. People donated money, to hand over money tokens, so that when these young people and young adults come to this festival, they can exercise their self-reliance while benefiting the creative economy. We created these cool dollars called $MUMS.

There will be a stage where people can come and play if they wish. We’ve partnered with the Boys and Girls Club and are building a pop-up gallery wall for students and established artists to display their work. There are holistic and yoga sellers. They make their own fairy wonderland situation. Tamara Morris is amazing and she coordinated the arts and crafts sale tables. We have reached out to health care providers and are bringing this closer to the people they are supposed to have access to. Information on voter registration, a vaccine van and a mobile book van will be there. There’s a cart giving out free food and Removals in Manchester will also be there! Kids can just get a bunch of cool sports gear to use for the day. Thrive Outdoors will be there. My friend Richella Simard, who is great, coordinates the entire youth and queer section. It’s all of this face-to-face information, health information for young gay men, especially with African communities, that has been a problem. And we know there is a correlation between higher suicide rates, higher rates of homelessness, and substance abuse among young gay men. Because the trauma is insane there, providing these safe spaces with access to information is awesome. And we’re all on the pitch, so again, that’s the difference.

This event is unique because it celebrates our stories and lived experiences. It is for us. Our committee provides a leadership space for each of the participants. Each person has their own dream or idea of ​​how they want the festival to go and there is enough space to make those dreams come true. Whatever you do, it’s probably going to be there. Meet people and build your network. Pretty exciting stuff, honestly.

CC: How did your involvement in the event come about?

YS: I work with Manchester grows, which is a subsidiary of Manchester Little League North. We’re all over town, but no one knows us. There are community gardens, no one knows who manages them. There is food that is cooked and distributed for free in parks like Sheehan-Basquil Park but also Livingston Park. Who cooks this food? Who brings this food cheaply? It’s us. No one knows that we are everywhere creating pathways to health literacy and kinesthetic learning. There is free baseball, free soccer, youth placement and a myriad of opportunities for growth all made possible by the work of a handful of dedicated individuals and volunteers.

Manchester Grows is also connected to parks and recreation and ORIS from Fresh Start Farms, the refugee farms. We germinate 40,000 seedlings for them. So there’s all that and we keep quiet because we don’t like politics. We don’t want to waste our energy on BS. As I mentioned, we are on the ground, we see the needs and the needs are not being met quickly enough. There is no infrastructure to create sustainable professional development for new Americans or even our young QBIPOCs in this city. The logical answer is therefore direct action. We simply cannot wait for local organizations or governments to come together to takee, to manage it. That’s just how we act, it’s mutual aid we just take care of that.

I was approached for this event specifically to coordinate a plant sale. Manchester has a plant sale every year, it is normally the same exclusive group of people who coordinate the entity. It’s not intentionally exclusive, but that’s the nature of the culture in this region. I was asked to coordinate the plant sale this year and thus, The Art and Plant Extravaganza was born. The insight and dedication shown by organizations like the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and SNHU underscores the importance of growing with organizations like ours. The friendships we have made with the communities we serve allow us to grow and be inspired and add fodder to the flame!

CC : Is this something you would like to replicate next year if possible?

YS: Absolutely.

CC: Is there anyone you would like to thank or mention for participating?

YS: Richella Simard of Manchester West High. Nature conservation has been amazing. A H their master gardeners were wonderful. Manchester Little League North, My turn, The MCC will be there. The Juneteenth committee has been incredibly supportive, which I’m also part of, so they’re just donating volunteers and time. There’s a multicultural festival in Concord and these guys are giving us resources and bodies. MARF (Mutual Aid Relief Fund). These guys are super cool and they also operate on an incredibly low budget. The Boys and Girls Club. There are so many. That’s what we’re talking about. We’ve had events that really center and amplify the voices of BIPOC and it’s amazing how people come together and say, this is great. Let’s do it.

CC: Is there a centralized location/website/contact person where people can go and see how they can personally contribute to the community?

YS: You can reach me directly phat-riot on Instagram or [email protected] there are plenty of opportunities in and around the city


  • Brown and Mitchell Park, 229 Mitchell St., Manchester
  • Saturday May 14, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


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