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The Eaton Centre gets a small dose of anarchy

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / December 16, 2013

toronto anarchist fairIn the midst of a stressful, bustling Eaton Centre yesterday, 10 peaceful souls sat down in a circle in a quest to find a little peace and meaning amidst the chaos.

toronto anarchist fairThey were meditating, in a demonstration that was part of the Toronto Anarchist Fair this past weekend. The meditation circle, which met beside the water fountain on the first floor, was labeled a flash mob online. But there was nothing mob-like about it. Their faces were content, unlined by stress. And though the group was small, it managed to cultivate a silence amongst the frantic shoppers, crying children, and rampant consumerism. They created a bubble of silence around themselves, while shoppers looked on from the upper levels. The group succeeded in carving out a quiet space in the middle of holiday madness.

toronto anarchist fair"Tis the season for buying things we don't really need in the hopes to find happiness," the Facebook event page reads. "Let's bring stillness to the high church of consumerism, the Eaton center, [sic] and make this an annual tradition!"

toronto anarchist fairWhether you're a minimalist or anarchist or not, there's some real wisdom in that mission statement, spelling errors and all. We would all do well to focus a little less on stressy errands and trying to prove our love through the material, and a little more on truly loving and appreciating one another. (End rant).

toronto anarchist book fairThe fair included a number of other events across town as well, from a Really Really Free Market at Ryerson to a panel on sobriety and accessibility, and an anarchist book fair at Ryerson.

toronto anarchist fairThe group says it has been a long time since anarchists have "assembled in Toronto to share our stories and ideas," and that now is the time to change that. While many may have negative connotations of anarchy, the fair's event page describes it this way:

"We feel it is vitally important that anarchist gatherings take place, while also being reimagined and reflecting a vibrant multitude of anarchisms. We hope to keep expanding the horizons of anarchism in this city beyond this fair and beyond this year.

toronto anarchist fair"For a more Anarchic Toronto and a freer, more joyful, and just world!"

toronto anarchist fairPhotos by Jesse Milns



canuckone / December 16, 2013 at 08:29 am
Very kewl idea for a flash mob.
"Rampant consumerism" in a shopping mall. Duh! That's what stores are for at whatever time of year. Rampant is a personal reflection of the author. As a business owner... if someone needs my product or service... come in and let me help you.

Couldn't really tell what the book about Black Bloc is about but seeing that name is disturbing on many levels. Bunch of irresponsible thugs.
Toni / December 16, 2013 at 09:33 am
Don't forget to pick up an Anarchy book on the way out! Cash, Debit or Credit Cards accepted. Great Stocking Stuffers
E. Toby Coke / December 16, 2013 at 10:00 am
Great product placement of the Igloo cooler.
lister / December 16, 2013 at 10:04 am
I'm pretty Grinchy about the whole Christmas thing but this? Really?
Rob / December 16, 2013 at 10:37 am
Most of these folks look like they need a good bath.
Mike / December 16, 2013 at 11:24 am
"buying things we don't really need" but don't forget to purchase one of our books that you definitely don't need.

Also, why do so many of them dress like d-bags? Why are you wearing a toque inside of a mall? I honestly do not understand that
Homeroom replying to a comment from Mike / December 16, 2013 at 11:43 am
Making fun of their clothes? Yeah, I miss high school too.
Moneesha / December 16, 2013 at 11:51 am
Well goody for them. They got the attention they craved. Morons.
Robert replying to a comment from Moneesha / December 16, 2013 at 11:57 am
As you did by posting your useless comment.
Moneesha replying to a comment from Robert / December 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm
At least my useless comment doesn't involve disrupting people and acting like a Jackass in public.
Brock Linehan replying to a comment from Homeroom / December 16, 2013 at 12:29 pm
Well, you might say it's high school, but I for one agree with Mike. Dressing like d-bags seems to be a hallmark of these anarchists. The tattoos, the dreads, the toques, and their dirty clothes. Not exactly a look that screams credibility or maturity. When I look at these people, I see young people who are acting out--self-satisfied brats who were enabled by their parents. Denying government or authority does not automatically mean that one must automatically dress like a bum (with apologies to all the bums out there).
sean / December 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm
what blatant narcissism. taking up space in a crowded mall and getting in people's way so people can see how supposedly more enlightened they are. meditation should be done at home not as a 'look how I think I'm better than you' cry for attention. waah, notice me, notice me.
Robert replying to a comment from Moneesha / December 16, 2013 at 12:47 pm
Your just an attention seeking d-bag
Kate / December 16, 2013 at 01:05 pm
These people are not old enough to realize what real anarchy would be like - certainly there wouldn't be too many soothing meditation circles around. I have to wonder what was offered at anarchy buffet.
Dirty / December 16, 2013 at 01:07 pm
Society prefers if I bathe regularly, I'll teach them a thing or two. Just watch me
toronto dude replying to a comment from Rob / December 16, 2013 at 01:12 pm
yeah, they should have followed up their circle with a splish splash in the fountain to scrub some of the filth off of them
C / December 16, 2013 at 01:37 pm
It's amazing how conservative and small-minded some people can be in this city. As soon as I saw this article, I knew there would inevitably be comments about the participants' clothes, their appearance, how stupid they are, that they are naive, etc.

The funny thing is that when people post comments like that they think they are being clever and original, not realizing how presumptuous and puerile it makes them appear. Obviously the participants have touched a nerve if they elicit this kind of reaction, especially when the reaction is about the messenger and not the message.

(No doubt someone will now respond to this message with 'pot calling the kettle black', or some other tired putdown.)
Dexter / December 16, 2013 at 02:01 pm
I think we all know that most comments on all posts are typically negative. People are much more inclinded to comment on things they disagree on, your very niave to think your gonna come on here and find all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. Theses groups will face the same criticism whether offline or online.

This aricle does not dig into what the cause or belief is but about pot lucks, book sales and meditation - clearly these groups or this post is doing a shitty job of spreading thier beliefs.

Why is Ryerson even involved in this nonesense.
Jamies Cryin / December 16, 2013 at 02:07 pm
So what have they accomplished in thier group?
Id like to know or is this just a meet and greet sort of a group. Are they actively changing things in our city? Or is it just a common interest group.

Trying to figure out why I should care? Its not how much you know on a subject, but what you do with what you know.
Carla / December 16, 2013 at 02:10 pm
Is this a support group for recovering punks/teenage anarchists that cant loose the image cause theyve invested too much into now? Still fighting authority and mom and dad afterall these years?
Derek / December 16, 2013 at 02:16 pm
Too bad they didnt meditate for the fellow that was shot in the Queens St subway station this weekend, some good vibes wouldve been nice and probably get more respect instead of just selfishly doing this for themselves. I guess you have to be pretty selfish to think any of us care for your cause.
Jules / December 16, 2013 at 02:20 pm
Make what an annual tradition? Nine people sitting on the foor of the eaton centre in a circle? How about doing something that helps others in need, so selfish.
Me replying to a comment from Carla / December 16, 2013 at 02:25 pm
But look, Sarah's back and edgier than ever!!! I suspect this attention getting "event" is because it's too cold to drink in Trinity Bellwoods park and hang out on Sarah's favourite pick up patios getting hammered.
R&D Dept / December 16, 2013 at 02:47 pm
In response to Burger Kings Angry Whopper and the recent trending of anarchy we currently in development of the McAnarchy burger. Weve short listed 3 winning burger toppings internally and are now reaching out for your help. Please pick your favorite topping choices below and reply to the post.

1. Fresh Jalepeno's with salsa verde
2. Chili Galic sauce
3. Charred onions and banna peppers

The sooner you vote the sooner we'll have a winner, and the sooner we can get this burger into market. Time is cruical as we want this in market while anarchy is still relevant.
FredsHere / December 16, 2013 at 02:48 pm
I'm fighting consumerism in a sweater with a brand name/logo on it! Check me out!
Alex / December 16, 2013 at 02:51 pm
"For a more Anarchic Toronto and a freer, more joyful, and just world!"

So...they don't know what anarchy means. It is definitely freer, but not joyful or just in any way. The G20 was as close to anarchy as Toronto has gotten as far as I can remember: A bunch of powerful people with weapons beating on everyone in sight, while a bunch of idiots smash things.
Craig / December 16, 2013 at 03:19 pm
an·ar·chy noun \ˈa-nər-kē, -ˌnär-\
: a situation of confusion and wild behaviour in which the people in a country, group, organization, etc., are not controlled by rules or laws

I see the exact opposite of the definition of anarchy happening in these photos. Nothing wild or any confusion happening here. It's just a bunch of hipsters hanging out in a shopping mall pretending they're important.
Ernest replying to a comment from Brock Linehan / December 16, 2013 at 03:31 pm
"Dressing like d-bags seems to be a hallmark of these anarchists. The tattoos, the dreads, the toques, and their dirty clothes. Not exactly a look that screams credibility or maturity. When I look at these people, I see..."

...exactly what you wanted to see before you even looked, because you'd already made a choice to dislike them. In all those pictures I see one tattoo (though, come on, tattoos stopped being scandalous around 1964), one person with dreads, no clothes that look at all "dirty," and two toques (in the winter! Those warmth-loving thugs!)

When I look at these pictures, I see people who look like 80% of people under the age of 45 in downtown Toronto. Go out on the street and look people in the eye once in a while, you might surprise yourself.

You're free to be miserable, but people aren't doing anything wrong if they don't feel like joining you
Kate replying to a comment from Craig / December 16, 2013 at 04:08 pm
I suspect they are proponents of the touchy-feely version of anarchy (i.e. no governing body but a serious of equal associations/jurisdictions etc). IMO it still is unworkable and would probably lead to what you're getting at. I was a bit flippant with my first comment; I think these people are idealists that need a bit of a clue and who might be a little lacking in a sense of irony - 20 years ago I might have been one of them.

And to whoever said it - yes these people look like a pretty typical cross-section of young Toronto.

Don replying to a comment from Kate / December 16, 2013 at 04:47 pm
Don't tell them they look typical when they're trying so hard to stand out, look different, rock hard. Saying they look typical is an insult!
ecoke4lyfe / December 16, 2013 at 07:14 pm
My complaint with this article is that it's not exactly well written or reported. There's no reporting on the attendance of the event- I hope for their sake that their "flash mob" wasn't just the nine people sitting there, and if it was, that's definitely worth discussing.

Then there's the fact that they draw all their quotes from the facebook group- was the reporter really too chicken to ask the nine people there how they feel about their own event? This couples with the fact that there's a billion photos but barely any actual writing surrounding it- it's as if they're ran captionless.

Am I looking for too-high quality reporting from blogTO? Usually, they do a pretty good job of at least covering the facts of an event, with a slant their readership likes. But I have no idea what went on here.

Either cover an event 'properly,' as most media outlets do, or cover an event purposefully slanted and personal, like Vice. An effortless vomit of photos with a smattering of words is neither.

No deadline crunch should ever excuse sloppy journalism like this.
Jennai / December 16, 2013 at 07:51 pm
The meditation was covered but not the march to Queen Station from the fair to rally for the person shot... Many more people attended that than the mall thing.. I was at the fair and I didn't even know about the mall thing...

Secondly, Anarchy is a diverse political movement/school of thought. There are plenty of anarchists that wouldn't make all these poor blogTO readers so uncomfortable with their fashion. I never saw Noam Chomsky with dreads and a tanktop...

There are some very legitimate and worthwhile conversations to have around the topic of anarchism and it's practicality or implementation. There are also lots of valid criticisms of the fair as well as a lot of stuff to celebrate about it either. The hairstyles of the people in the pictures are not on that list. And just because you think someone looks "dirty" doesn't mean that they are automatically stupid or bad or a waste of a person. Really. I know it's hard to be cool in comments... the internet really encourages you to be your worst.

That most of the comments cant get further than optics is a pretty sorry example of how most people react to things they don't understand, don't care to understand, and believe they are above. Congrats. You are all the chosen ones! You are the only smart people in the world! You are so well dressed--you must be a genius! No one with tattoos ever did anything worthwhile! God likes you best! Happy now? Did you win?

Cool that an article about the fair turned into a "do's and don't" fashion conversation. Good work everyone.
Me replying to a comment from ecoke4lyfe / December 16, 2013 at 08:33 pm
You haven't seen many of Sarah's awful "articles", have you? Look back a wee bit and you'll see how bad it is. Also, get prepared for more of her endless "lists".
Jeff Berwick / December 16, 2013 at 10:17 pm
I can tell by most of the comments that most Kanadians don't know the actual meaning of anarchy. It means love, peace and non-violence. Check out Anarchast ( for more than 100 interviews with real anarchists to find out what it is.
kksuck2 / December 16, 2013 at 11:58 pm
Can I just smash and grab all of their stuff, especially that Black Bloc book, like real anarchists do?
kksuck2 / December 17, 2013 at 12:08 am
At least they weren't all playing ukuleles.
Hugs / December 17, 2013 at 12:42 am
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya
Courtney / December 17, 2013 at 12:43 am
A lot of the people commenting don't know how to turn off their egos and just watch/take in/learn/appreciate something. So many people are so eager to react to & give their opinions about whatever they see or hear almost automatically... please, just. stop. talking. Stop. reacting. Just. be. Just. listen. Just. watch. Just absorb life for a moment, appreciate the thoughts and ideas of others, learn to see from new perspectives... And then go back to complaining about everything people do if that's the way you prefer to live.
Anyway, I think that this is an interesting idea and I think it's COOL.
Tyler replying to a comment from Derek / December 17, 2013 at 01:04 am
They actually had a protest directly after the fair for that specific cause.
John Labatt / December 17, 2013 at 02:06 am
These girls are kinda cute i would like to make love to one.
Cheliois replying to a comment from Jennai / December 17, 2013 at 06:18 am
Maybe if the reporting gave us more to discuss then just photos we'd have more too discuss then just how they look. But for now it seems most important on the looks, thats all we have to go off.
Brock Linehan / December 17, 2013 at 10:50 am
My point was the fact that these so-called anarchists seem to feel that they have to wear a uniform--as in "this is what anarchy looks like".
Why is that? It makes them seems less as individuals and more like a hive.
MamaLioness / December 18, 2013 at 12:50 am
more freedom, joyfulness and a just world...hmmmm, damned those anarchists...haha...bless this mess.
White pine / December 18, 2013 at 02:02 am
I really enjoyed sitting in the eaton centre. The sea of ambient noise. The contrast of people moving, us sitting. For me this was more about remembering to still yourself even amidst the hustle and bustle. That it is ok to be quiet at this time of year too. Just to remember that life is full of options and choices and there is no right way to do the ' mall' or to be in the 'holiday spirit'. It feels good to be same sometimes and it feels good to be other. To meditate with people who are shopping is a gentle reminder of options. Your judgement like your support is thankful and honestly yours. Thank you for paying attention.
Andy / December 19, 2013 at 08:10 am
Big-ups to the folks who participated in this. It's easy to meditate at home in quiet, to get out among the distractions and noise, that's much harder and hopefully rewarding. It's nice that there are young (and not so young) people who are thoughtful and look beyond the consumerism.

To everybody with the predictable "get a bath" type comments - sorry that contemplating the world you live in makes you uncomfortable, but I suspect that was the point. Too bad you turn your discomfort into aggression, instead of introspection.
Jesse replying to a comment from Derek / December 20, 2013 at 11:54 am
How do you know what it was that they were meditating on? As meditation is a highly personal process, you can not possibly claim to know what they did or did not focus that energy on. Besides that though, these anarchists followed up the fair with a rally against police brutality in regards to the specific shooting that you just mentioned.

This article does not mention in detail many of the events surrounding the fair, so I can understand some of the confusion, but it would be great if people actually took the time to look into the things that they are complaining about.

At the fair last weekend there were dozens of artists and collective members from around Canada who came out to sell their art and writing, network and share in different threads of activism that many were a part of. There were workshops on everything from homeschooling your children, to deconstructing the hierarchy of polyamorous relationships, to environmental workshops and discussions about sobriety. The fair covered a wide spectrum of events that catered to a large audience of interested individuals who care about the world around them and who, contrary to some of the beliefs expressed in these comments, are working incredibly hard to change things.

Knowing many of the organizers and attendees, almost every one of them are hard working students or working professionals who during their few spare moments are working to bring about change for the better around them. All are active in their communities, donating their time, effort and resources to the things they believe in. Please tell me, exactly how is that selfish?
Looks to me like the people more worried about the superficial and material points of these people and the event are the selfish ones. Please, I encourage you to step outside of your own bubble every now and then.

On a final note though, so that people understand the "anarchist buffet" that is shown above... this is the 'Food Not Bombs' serving line. The Toronto chapter of Food Not Bombs attended the event this weekend and served up a delicious vegan lunch for all who attended. A lot of hard work and time went into preparing the food for the weekend, as it does for all of their events.
Background for those of you who do not know:
Food Not Bombs is a global grassroots organization that has been around for the last 30+ years. Started in the states and it has grown the world over since. They follow the non-aggression principle by serving food that is vegan/vegetarian, free to the public, and wasting as little as possible. The meal is always accompanied by a message, that message can range from anti-war/violence, to following up on environmental issues like the tar sands. While the literature is always available, and the message is always clear however, they do not preach to those they are serving. The point is taking part in a community meal for everyone - because "Food is a right, not a privilege."

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