Oct 1, 2008

With Love, Solidarity, and Deep Sadness

Yesterday I learned that kind and amazing Kirsten Brydum was shot to death in New Orleans last weekend. Word trickled back to the Bay Area slowly, and then reached me through a friend. I don't have much to say about Kirsten's death, except the obvious: This is completely fucked up and shouldn't happen to anyone, and particularly not to someone as compassionate and kind as Kirsten. Kirsten's father has started a lovely memorial page that you can find here.

There's lots to say about her life, and all the work Kirsten engaged in, including the Collective Autonomy Tour that took her to New Orleans. As I'm pretty alone in my sadness, here in London, I'm going to write about the woman I knew. The alternative is crying alone, or perhaps in the presence of a friend who didn't know her. For me, this is better.

I met Kirsten at the Really Really Free Market a couple of years ago. We were introduced by our mutual friend, Greg, who knew I was doing the Compact and that Kirsten was very involved in organizing the market. For a while, I only saw Kirsten at the monthly RRFMs, or read her words about the market in the list emails. She always emphasized that it is our market, and encouraged folks to engage. And slowly I started to feel like I was part of the RRFM, always in my own way, which is really really the only way to be a part of such a multi-faceted community.

I got to know Kirsten outside of RRFM, and mostly inside of Station 40, where we both worked on the Dirty Dove Infoshop with a beautiful band of other people. During the sewing basics workshop last fall, Kirsten taught me how to patch my own pants, using a sewing machine. She laughed just enough about my fear of the machine eating my fingers to loosen me up and make me receptive. Kirsten was primely suited to be my teacher in this skillshare. I hope I taught her something about SF ecology or kitty wound care in return.

Kirsten worked really hard for a lot of projects like Dirty Dove, that emphasized alternative economies or education. She put her energy into her principles, inspiring many of us to do the same. And she fleshed out those principles, addressing economics with RRFM, education with Dirty Dove, and even food with Access Cafe. Kirsten was engaged in a cross country journey, collating resources of alternative institutions, hoping "to network with people and connect projects" and "to facilitate research and resource sharing". Horribly enough, she was killed while trying to see the best of our communities.

I'm not going to see Kirsten smiling in sunny Dolores Park again, or help her with Shiloh, her cat. Our community has lost the great brilliance of her piercing brown eyes and whipsmart mind. To any friends reading this, I love you. And I'm so sorry to not be there with you.
in solidarity and with love and sadness,


anjamarie said...

thank you, rachel. you might be alone in london, but i feel alone, too. i have lost my cousin, my confidant, my muse, my oldest friend, my kirsten. our family sends out there hearts to every one whose life she touched. thank you for writing such kind words.
anja marie brydum

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful thoughts. They are a comfort to friends and family.
I have taken the liberty of copying your post to her guestbook.

I am in the process of building a memorial site in Kirsten’s memory. Please visit and, if you choose, sign the guestbook.

rachel kesel said...

Anja Marie and Mr. Brydum, my deepest sympathies.
i've added the memorial site to the post as well so more folks will find it. i know you have one cousin abroad, if sunni happens to be in london, do send along my contact info if you think i can be of any support. ketterkat [at] yahoo [dot]com is one way to reach me.

Mamie said...

I have lost my brightest light and all is dim. However, I have my other light by my side (Erika) and we will get through this with the love our wonderful families and friends. Thank you all. Love, Mamie

Anonymous said...

Nice Post. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

"She was shot multiple times in the head..." http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2008kirsten-brydum1
"Kirsten worked really hard for a lot of projects like Dirty Dove, that emphasized alternative economies or education." quote from above blog. Hello people, multiple shots to the head, that's called an execution! She was assassinated, I'm not an idiot.

Maybe that movie "The International" soon to be out has a point: http://www.apple.com/trailers/sony_pictures/theinternational/

We are Anarchists after all, it wouldn't surprise me if Capitalists and Governments conspired all of our demise ... after all we are working on some hard core alternative economic systems ;-) and they must be working ... much love for our fallen comrade who got us this much closer to a new world in an old shell.