I remember when I first heard folk punk, it was 2009, I was 17 years old, and my younger friend Zach told me to listen to Survival Song by AJJ. I instantly fell in love and started consuming all things folk punk. I wanted to get into the scene more and meet the people making this music. I was finally finding shows at places like the Che Café in San Diego and meeting people who planned food drives and diy shows to raise money for mutual aid. I was inspired and had this feeling of being where I was supposed to. Cliché, I know, but it’s true. That’s when I got a terrible phone call from my grandma and got some terrible news.
I was moving back home with mom to help her out. I was moving to a small town where I didn’t think there was any music scene. I got sucked into a toxic relationship and lost contact with all the like-minded people that I had met in San Diego. I kept telling my partner at the time I wanted to help and do more for my community. I wanted to feel like I was doing more than just performative political posts on Facebook. Because let’s face it, everyone hates that. I mean sure an anarchist meme is always nice, but direct action is always better. I got shot down by my partner, he told me to just join a subreddit about it and stop talking about it.
6 years and 2 children later, I had finally left the relationship and was living on my own. That’s when my younger brother introduced me to the music scene in our tiny town. The one that I thought didn’t exist for 6 years. The one I missed out on during my formative years. The one I had yearned to be a part of but didn’t know how to find it. I started learning more about mutual aid, I learned about organizations like Food Not Bombs and Punks with Lunch. It inspired me to open a Food Not Bombs chapter in my town, and it all started with my friends in the park and 50 PB&J’s. But I didn’t have consistent help to do things the way that Food Not Bombs did their feeding. This is when I decided to start my own mutual aid organization.
I knew I wanted to implement the music scene into my mutual aid organization, so I tried throwing a house show to raise money for a meal. The cops got called and I knew this wasn’t a reliable source of income for my organization, which at this point did not have a name. Then one of my friends suggested having a show at the same park that we fed people at and I was worried that planning a show and a meal for a large group of people would be too hectic. But I soon realized how easy it was to plan a show at a park. There’s not equipment, no PA system to worry about. Just a person with an acoustic instrument screaming about how sad they are with their friends in the middle of a public park. My friend suggest we call it Punks in the Park, and its stuck ever since.
Now 5 years after first starting Punks in the Park it seems crazy how much its evolved and changed over the years, with moving locations, a global pandemic, new members, and a million new friends along the way. We now throw park shows to raise money for any type of mutual aid that is important to us and our community. Which I feel is extremely important, especially now as it seems, all we have is each other to look out for one another. Because who else is gonna do it? Our Government?