January 20th is a day that will go down in history, and not in a positive way. We’re entering a new era, which for many people, is frightening and uncertain. However, it would be hard to deny that people are making an effort to rise up, insisting that they aren’t interested in taking this lying down. Across the country, people took their outrage at the direction our country is going in out in various ways. Some took to the streets, some took to the internet, and some took to creative outlets.
Although I reside in Denver, I was in Cleveland, Ohio following the inauguration, and was unable to attend my local March. However, I was able to attend an awesome creative outlet, through the Push Back 2017 event – a event described as, “A benefit concert and community event to raise awareness and funds for people and organizations within our community who are greatly affected by the oncoming US Presidential administration.” I had the opportunity to speak with the event’s organizers, Nina Holzer and Loren Shumaker-Chupp (member of local Cleveland act Signals Midwest), hoping to gain a little insight into what motivated them to put together the event.
Nina stated that they desired to use their passions to make a change:
We have networks, we have people, he plays in a band, so, how could we be doing something in our personal life that actually inspires others and makes a change? And so I think the answer was music – you know, we go to a lot of shows, so we were like, “Oh, let’s put on a concert that supports organizations that we know serve populations that we know are going to be most impacted by policies of our incoming administration.”
They set out to support organizations that benefit women, refugees and immigrants, and the LGBTQA+ community – basically, anyone whose identity, struggles, or life have been and will be marginalized in our nation.
Ultimately, Nina and Loren came up with the idea of Push Back 2017, where they raised over $5,000 to be split between The Refugee Response, LGBT Cleveland Community Center, and Preterm Cleveland Ohio – a truly impressive sum for a DIY event to generate. Nina and Loren said that while the event began as a much smaller idea with only about 4 bands originally scheduled, it took off as other activists and artists in the community learned about it and asked to be involved, and Mahall’s, the event’s host for the evening, opened up their entire space to help support this community event. The donations were raised at the door, via the raffle, and through an art-print sale, which is awesome, because it shows that attendees were willing to give above and beyond what they needed to to get in the door.
Local musicians and artists packed the event, and I was thoroughly impressed throughout. Although I only caught a few of the acts (a moment or two from Leonard Baum, a few songs from Bummed Out, and Heart & Lung and Signals Midwest’s sets), I didn’t get a chance to photograph them all, but I would like to recognize the musicians and bands who took part in this great event and donated their time to a great cause: Leonard Baum, Bummed Out, the House of Wills, Vacula, Heart & Lung, Mourning A BLKstar, Toma Doe, and Signals Midwest. You’ll find mostly photos of Heart & Lung, a very talented Cleveland band (who totally blew me away and I think you should check out), and Signals Midwest, the midwestern sweethearts.
Ultimately, Nina and Loren had this message, which motivated them, and that they hoped to spread with the event: we can’t be complacent, we can’t be apathetic, and we can’t normalize hate and oppression. I hope that more communities continue to come together the way that Cleveland, Ohio did on inauguration day to demonstrate that complacency, apathy, hate, and oppression have no place in not only our scene, but in our nation.
* all photos by Jackie Wilding