Connect The Dots
Supporting the DIY Scene
By Manu Osorio
When you find yourself dissatisfied with the way things are being run, what do you do about it? Alienation and exclusion appear to be powerful phenomena in our communities, so whose role is it to mediate these problems? In the DIY music community, no one is in charge. We are all struggling to create something great for people to enjoy, but our support system feels small compared to the powers that be. Security guards and house shows don’t seem to mix, so what can we do?
Connect the Dots (CTD) began as an effort to help the Civic Media Center (CMC) fundraise. The CMC, a non-profit infoshop located on S. Main St., has paid bills for 25 years solely with donations from the community. Once this music project set off, I quickly realized my vision needed to expand beyond fundraising. Having been involved in the DIY
music scene as an attendee, I experienced harassment several times. I also understand how awkward it is to be one of the only women or latinx folx in a packed room.
Although Connect the Dots is not a perfect solution to the problems of exclusion and harassment that our scene faces, we are doing what we can to create a safe space. You too can help make the scene a better place for all of us.
In 2018, Shawna Potter, vocalist of War on Women and author of Making Spaces Safer trained CMC and CTD volunteers on how to create safer spaces. We later invited her to host this training as a workshop during Fest. Shawna comments that “A safer scene is an intentional one… It's accessibility, like ramps, it's "No Harassment Tolerated" signs, it's workers trained in active listening and grounding techniques, it's not being afraid to kick someone out that is f***ing up the vibe for everyone, it's taking victims seriously and hearing them out, it's respectful and dignified, and it's f***ing fun because the assholes aren't around to ruin it for everyone else.”
Since our creation in early 2018, we have hosted over 40 live music shows, began airing a radio show with WGOT 100.1 FM, and collaborated with key local organizations like Madres Sin Fronteras. One of our motivators to continue growing the project is knowing that we can provide a space for musicians to be comfortable. Nico from the St. Augustine band GILT shares, “be the change you want to see, start that project that you want to do, erase those social norms that say you can't, scream harsh sounds, play aggressive music, make a message with your art. If you’re an ally and want to help: give those people platforms. Support their art and support them.”
Our suggestion for readers is the following:
If you are a live music observer, support venues and bands that promote inclusion and safety. If you can, financially support musicians and institutions that promote these issues.
If you are a musician, promote the physical and emotional safety of minorities at your shows. Speak up onstage about social injustices in the scene. Lift up your friends and encourage ostracized people to create music.
If you are involved backstage for live shows, speak up when you hear prejudice comments, promote diversity in the shows you book, put up signs to discourage crappy behavior, and train your staff to prioritize safety.
We all have roles to play that can create a safer environment for everyone to be able to enjoy some good ol’ PUNK.