By Aiano Nakagawa
I am excited to share this interview with Mitali Purkayastha, a Bay Area transplant, creator, educator, activist, healer, and Magic Maker. For the past four years Mitali has been working on creating, Magic Makers Fair an event that brings the beautiful, vibrant, Queer community together - featuring some of Oakland's favorite QTBIPOC crafters, healers and makers. As one of the core Magic Makers, Mitali shares a bit about the history of the fair, what goes into the event, and what Queer Magic Makers have in store for this year. You can get more information on this year's Queer Magic Makers Fair and read Mitali's full bio at the end of this interview. Get ready for some Queer beauty, magic, and healing <3.
Aiano Nakagawa: Can you tell us a bit about how Queer Magic Makers (QMM) came to be and how has it evolved over the years?
Mitali Purkayastha: The first Queer Magic Makers was created 6 years ago with a group of Queer crafters and healers. The founding crew talks about how they dreamed to have a space where they could all sell their magic and support other queers in selling their magic in the same space, and it feel festive, be a love fest, support radical organizations and babes, be free and be queer! And that is what the first magic makers was at the Omni Commons in North Oakland. A year later we moved to our forever home: The Humanist Hall! During that time, the Magic Makers crew was built off of vendors and folks in the Queer community interested in organizing healing events. We have had various changes since then, between people in the crew moving or needing to step back due to time, but there has always been solid community interest. I think the challenging part to commit to organizing this event is that it is strictly a volunteer job. There is a lot to do and a small sweet stipend at the end for hours upon hours of the labor of love.
AN: Who all is involved with putting on this event?
MP: A cute group of Queers! We are a group of organizers, activists, artists, healers, and magicians. We have a core that includes folks who have been organizing this event for at least 3 years, if not since the first event. And we have a crew that includes the core and others who have come on to our team in the past year or so. Many of our crew are folks who also vend at the event. We work at least 5-7 hours a week for a couple months before the event. November is crunch time and usually the week before the event we work 35-40 hrs each to make sure it goes smoothly! We are definitely a group of hard workers who have our own businesses /regular full time jobs and do this because we love what this is.
AN: What are some aspects about the fair, besides the products, that you love?
MP: The People! It’s amazing to see so many people and communities get their healing and love on together. It’s a benefit for a queer-centric organization as well, so folks and community from the specific org def roll out too! I love how everyone enjoys the space together, recommending different healers and products to one another, changing their outfits throughout the day. I also have a cruising game we play that really gets people in the social mood and maybe some new numbers! It’s just such a huge Queer Family affair!
AN: It seems like a lot of labor to put on a fair. How do you sustain your energy during hectic times? How does the community support each other?
MP: We check in and we are honest about where we are at. We trust each other and have lots of love for all the different kinds of labor each one of us is able to provide. We definitely have to stay some sort of organized, which can be hard with so many lifestyles and schedules in the mix, but with a love of labor and a lot of love, we make it work!
AN: It seems like an incredibly magical, powerful, and creative group of vendors - how do you choose from all of the applicants?
MP: We prioritize BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and people from Oakland/occupied Chochenyo Ohlone Land. We try to have a variety of vendors as well, making sure we don’t have too many herbalists, illustrators, ceramics, or any other crafter in one day. We do love our vendors who have been accepted year after year and we also LOVE new crafters and healers ready to engage and showcase their work in this space!
AN: Who was this fair created for?
MP: QMM is a celebration of queer arts, healing and liberation and centers the work of QTBIPOC, working class, and socially engaged artists and healers.
AN: Accessibility is important. What aspects of accessibility does the team at Queer Magic Makers consider when putting on an event? What are the ways in which it is practiced?
MP: Our first hour on both days (12-1pm) are our Access Hours, for folx who need more space to be in the space. This is definitely recommended for folx with disabilities that may find it harder to access the space when there are more people. Also, Magic Makers is a Fragrance Free event and we ask anyone who plans on attending to come fragrance free!
We are also trying to incorporate a children's space/childcare this year so our Queer family with children community can attend this event without fear their child will have nothing to participate in.
AN: Can you share a few vendors/products you’re especially excited for this year?
MP: I’m not trying to be biased but DEF the MM crew who will be out there both days, Bujerixa Designs (hex the patriarchy shirts!), Eye of Crow (Herbs and elixirs), Illustrated Truths (Prints and paintings), Diasporan Savant (prints and pins and more!), Free4real kitchen (Food on sunday), Little Spoon Ice Cream,... and the GOATS! (they aren’t a part of the crew but there will be Goats outside to say hi to!)
AN: What do you envision this fair will look like in the future?
MP: EVERY ACCESSIBILITY NEED WILL BE IN PRACTICE! Including crowd control so folx can access the healing of the space even if they can't be in too big of crowds.
info RE: queer magic makers fair 2018:
Following information has been copied from the Queer Magic Makers website.
The sixth annual M∆GIC M∆KERS will be a two-day event, with a completely different roster of artists, healers, treat makers, and DJs each day:
Saturday Dec 1st, 12pm* – 6pm
Sunday Dec 2nd, 12pm* – 6pm
Humanist Hall, 390 27th St, Oakland, CA
Please read details, including notes on access before you join us! Magic Makers is open to the general public from 1-6PM; For the first hour (12-1PM), we’re prioritizing access & comfort for anyone who prefers to avoid crowds (due to mobility, anxiety, scents, etc). Please help us increase access for folks who need this space and do not come until 1pm if you don’t need to be there for these reasons. Thank you! If you come at 12PM and are wearing scents, we will ask you to shower and return at 1PM Please come scent-free for the entire event to help make this space accessible to everyone.
Mitali Purkayastha has been one of Magic Makers core and "MCing/ Mic Diva" for 3 years and loving up on Magic Makers as a volunteer for the last 5 years! Mitali identifies as trans* genderqueer nonbinary South Asian stemming diasporically from Bangaldesh and south India. Living in Oakland/Occupied Ohlone Land for 9 years, They have noticed so much gentrification and the removal of (QT)BIPOC art and healing spaces in Oakland/BayArea/ Occupied Ohlone Land year after year, more and more. It’s such a privilege and honor to be a part of this Magic Making space, uplifting QTBIPOC in Oakland. Mitali themselves is a full time Forest Freedom Preschool Teacher at Abundant Beginnings. They teach the littles in the forest how to know their rights, themselves, and to be freedom fighters. Alongside being Teacher Tali, Mitali surrounds themselves with energy healing work, working with Medicine, Food, and Dance/Performance. Mitali loves supporting Magic Makers curation and this work surrounding community and our intersections of intentional and sacred healing.
"Without community, there is no liberation" -Audre Lorde
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