Troost Festival invites neighbors to celebrate neighbors

The 2012 Troost Festival drew a growing number of people to “come together on Troost.” This year’s event, planned for Saturday, features more than 60 vendors and exhibitors. The Troost Festivals are dedicated to celebrating the diversity of the Troost community.

If you haven’t been to Troost Avenue for a long time, the folks behind the 9th annual Troost Avenue Festival are inviting you back.

The annual street fair is aimed at erasing the traditional racial dividing line that Troost represents. Organizers say they hope, instead, to make Troost a meeting place where “neighbors celebrate neighbors.”

It all began in 2005, according to Rae Petersen, one of the original “Troost folks.” They were talking about how to overcome racism and build community on Troost when the idea came, she says, “that we needed to shut down Troost and have a party.”

That was the birth of the idea for the Troost festival. It was dedicated to celebrating the diversity of the Troost community. 
It drew people who lived around Troost as well as people who had not been there for a long time. “There was a fear factor they had built up,” Petersen says. “But then they came and started wandering around and noticed the architecture…”

The festival, closing down the 3100 block, and filling the streets with music, dancing and food, has been growing “slow and steady” ever since. This year’s theme is “Troost Rising,” and the events begin at noon and last until 10 p.m.

   See a full list of performances 

While the festival draws crowds once a year, Petersen says “it really takes place all year round” because of those who are constantly meeting and trying to build community on Troost.

The nonprofit Troost Village Community Association identifies its mission as “to facilitate becoming a village in the area around 31st and Troost through the meaningful participation of neighbors in arts, community, communication, education, environment, health, justice, resources, science, and spirituality.”

Its website presents a vision of how this should happen – organically from those who live on and around Troost.

“The idea of an ‘urban village’ stimulates rethinking of community. There are numerous agencies to meet the needs of disadvantaged people and there is also a sizable community of ‘movers and shakers’. We are seeking to get beyond ‘agency mentality’; while at the same time, resisting gentrification with ‘middle-class’ values.”

“It’s not about asking people to fix things,” Petersen says. “It’s about getting people excited about fixing things themselves.”

Maybe that starts with a party in the street.


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