Independents’ Day is Why I love Columbus
| JM RAYBURN
INDEPENDENTS’ DAY returns to East Franklinton to showcase the best of music, art, entertainment, food, and more that all fuel Columbus’ creative spirit. This will be the eighth installment of the festival, taking place the weekend of September 19-20. Independents’ Day has become more than a rallying cry of support for all things made and expressed locally. It’s become my favorite festival in Columbus because I believe it captures an authentic identity of our often misunderstood city.
E Pluribus Unum
Like cities, we individually have multiple identities. Some come from how we express ourselves to the world and others come from how the world seeks to understand us. For example, I identify as GAY, but my unapologetic affinity for skinny jeans, American Spirits, and New Order may earn me the ever-flattering label of a hipster (in friendly jest, of course). The more identities in the mix, the more interesting a narrative becomes. That can be the narrative of an individual, a group, a neighborhood, or even a city. More often than not, how you are different ends up mattering more than how well you conform to standards of-the-day. In Columbus, we must be careful when we compare our progress to other cities in the spotlight. The focus ought to be how to become the best city we can be and how we are unique from the rest. That is exactly what Independents’ Day accomplishes.
Independents’ Day originally launched in the Gay Street District on the heels of public and private investments. In 2007, Gay Street was restored back into a two-way street from a one-way. The street improvements allowed the corridor to become more inviting to pedestrians, people who bicycle, new businesses, and visitors. Today, Gay Street serves as a successful example of urban revitalization and the rebirth of downtown. Independents’ Day is the cultural manifestation of that.
By 2014 the festival outgrew its footprint along Gay Street. The organizers made the right choice to find a new home in Franklinton. As the symbolic birthplace of Columbus, the neighborhood has endured decades of neglect as a result of suburbanization and highway construction, compounded by the fact that it sits in a flood plain. It wasn’t until the completion of the Franklinton floodwall in 2004 that the neighborhood started to show some signs of life again. Since then the Franklinton Development Association, under the direction of Jim Sweeney, has targeted public and private investments in efforts to make the neighborhood more inviting -- much in the same fashion as the Gay Street District but on a much larger scope and scale. Thus, the center of gravity for our city’s creative renaissance is shifting.
The mascot of this year’s Independents’ Day festival is a robot. It’s perfectly fitting given the role of robots in pop culture. In the realm of sci-fi, robots (and aliens) typically represent an exaggerated aspect of the human condition. For example, Spock from Star Trek embodies the pursuit of logic and reason of humanity while The Terminator is an extreme portrayal of humanity’s malevolence. They serve as our crystal ball. Our mascot is a towering builder comprised of many unique parts bound by a common purpose. This is the identity of Columbus. This is Independents’ Day.
For more information, visit ThisIsIndependent.com