Friends, family and community members gathered Saturday afternoon in Dolores Park to redistribute excess soup, clothes and an assortment of new and used items to honor the fallen organizer of San Francisco’s Really Really Free Market. The monthly event was one of Kirsten Brydum’s first experiments with anti-capitalist economics and it had been thriving for three years when, on Sept. 27, 2008, the 25-year-old was brutally murdered while riding her bicycle home from a bar in New Orleans.
“A part of Kirsten will always be here in Dolores Park,” said Brydum’s mother, Mamie Page, who flew in from Orange County for the event. “We’re all in this together. That’s her legacy.”
Alex Friend said his former roommate “was really into doing work for work’s sake.”
“That’s always been one of our mantras at the Really Really Free Market; just do what you feel you need to do regardless of what others think,” he added.
For Brydum, that meant engaging in firsthand experimentation with alternative economic philosophies. In addition to organizing for the Really Really Free Market, she also collected donations and cooked hot meals for Access Café, volunteered for Food Not Bombs, and contributed time and labor to Dirty Dove Infoshop, a resource center providing reading material, computer access and skill sharing to anyone in need.
“Kirsten was a great spirit and also a first-class intellectual,” said Pirate Cat Radio host Diamond Dave, a longtime friend of Brydum’s and a volunteer at many of the organizations she was part of. “She had a lot of great theories about collective autonomy.”
Brydum spent the last year of her life contributing to the Collective Autonomy Project, a national effort to build and foster a network of counter-institutions such as alternative schools, free markets and radical health collectives.
It was during a cross-country journey to network with different organizations that Brydum’s life was cut short. According to her journal entries, she had visited organizations and “friends of friends” in New York, Boston, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and St. Paul, among other cities before making her way to New Orleans to meet with more strangers in the vast network of activists she was working to unite.
Brydum’s legacy lives on in some of those places.
“We’ve got friends down in New Orleans right now throwing the city’s first ever Really Really Free Market,” said Brydum’s former roommate, Friend.
He said he sees the markets as a way to remind people of what she stood for and also that her murderer has never been found. But mostly, he said, it’s important to celebrate the community’s love for her.
“The Mission District will always remember Kirsten,” said Page.