Great news! I was featured in this week's HuffPost Food Informants Series! Read about a week in the life of a freegan! 

The editor did use a bit of editorial license with my diary, which I'm fine with. And they've tried to represent my motivations in the introductory bio, but there is much more that could not be included in its entirety for sake of brevity. So I do hope you'll read below the full bio that I sent the editor. It paints a more complete picture of how and why I came to busking and freeganism in NYC... Check out the Kitchen Sink plug towards the end!!!

I'm a writer, artist, musician - this is my existential calling, what I was born to do, so to speak. As a Christian, I believe God has given me the special ability, skill, passion to do this and it would be downright disobedient for me not to do it! 

Unfortunately in this society (in every society?) artists don't get paid much. It's our job to show others how sick, twisted, and depraved society has become - we have a special eye for this - and also to offer better alternatives, to show the way things could be. The problem is that the people who have power and money are precisely the ones who do not want anything to change! So you may call me a conspiracy theorist if you wish, but I doubt it's a coincidence that artists like myself have a difficult time surviving in a society such as ours, despite the great amount of labor, thought, and love that we put into our craft. As a society, we are conditioned to believe that artists are just fantastical idealists, unrealistic weirdos; and that our work, our art, is worthless on a pragmatic level - why would anyone financially support that which they perceive as worthless? Indeed, why would governments support art programs in schools over worthwhile and pragmatic pursuits like math and science?

Since I refused to compromise my calling and my time (by, say, getting a crappy part-time job), I had to find alternative ways of living. I became freegan. 

I believe I'd always been a freegan in ideology, at least since high school, but I sought a community of people with whom I could practice this alternative lifestyle. I was involved with the radical freegan group Food Not Bombs in Orlando, where I first dumpster dove and began to see the waste in our economy and its backwards priorities - profits over people. Indeed, OFNB has been in a long-standing legal battle against the city of Orlando which illegalized the sharing of food and feeding homeless people in a public park, hoping to quell the fears of classist and xenophobic business owners and upscale residents in this heart-of-downtown neighborhoodI recently wrote a song about the situation as 30 of my friends have been arrested in June and July for doing nothing more than feeding the homeless. Here's the link for that poem: http://gandollo.weebly.com/1/post/2011/07/lightweight.html

After a few months of living in NYC and seeking part time work, I decided to pursue my music and art wholeheartedly. I would have to take freeganism much more seriously! So I attended a freegan.infomeeting in December 2009 and I've since grown in sympathy with the Freegan cause, especially its concern for the abuses inherent in current economic systems: waste of resources, exploitation of people, degradation of the environment, calloused treatment of animals, commodification of time, labor, even war (thus human life in wholesale). Of course I write songs about these issues, among many others; I also write blogs.

The one I most prioritize currently is my personal blog and portfolio at gandollo.weebly.com. In it, I document almost everything that I'm doing in my life - past and current projects, GioSafari (my solo music project), new poetry, videos, updates, powerful quotes, and more. Another blog is atfreenyc.weebly.com, which is all about how to live on a shoestring in an expensive city like New York. I talk about dumpster diving, busking, living hand-to-mouth, the financial struggles that I face on the day-to-day; but also about the joys I find in experiencing nature, determining my own schedule (including waking up at 6am), bartering and volunteering, and freedom from running the hamster wheel of capitalism. 

I have a third blog about washing dishes (dishesdance.weebly.com) called Dance Party At the Kitchen Sink. The name comes from two popular quotes regarding revolution: 1) Everyone wants a revolution but nobody wants to do the dishes; 2) A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having! I hope to plant a church in Chicago some time in the future. That is my kitchen sink - I want to build a community that is passionate about justice, that is willing to get its hands dirty and wash the dirty dishes of our society - violence, racism, homophobia, sexism, socioeconomic inequality and injustice - but is also going to do so with a hop, skip, and dance in its step! Activists tend to take their work very seriously, to the point that their work becomes very serious. We must always remember that we are not only fighting violence and injustice (fighting - such a violent word!), we are also constructively working towards a world of peace, joy, compassion, equality, and sustainability. That's why I'm perpetually hosting a dance party at the kitchen sink!
 


Comments

Kat
07/28/2011 20:38

Interesting perspective on life, Gio. I read your story online and admire your dedication in living life according to your terms and beliefs, while also taking responsibility for decisions you've made. I think I would have a difficult time being a "freegan"-- as, although I'm dedicated to certain things in many ways, I am a beastie that enjoys her creature comforts (air conditioning, a glass of wine, food for my dog and cat, travel to visit with family, etc.) I currently work in a field where I try to make things better for sick people and their families (which I love) but really, I am coming to the realization that life is short and I just want to be a farmer/writer living "off the grid". My sense of accountability for my own creation of school loans/debt at this point push that back to a future goal for my husband and I, but the desire remains as a constant, gentle tug on my heart. Thanks for this little window into your world and best of luck to you in achieving your dreams, Gio.

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Dakiniland
07/28/2011 21:35

I love everything you stand for, everything you do. Bravo.

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SatoM
07/30/2011 18:41

Hi, I read the article in the Huffington Post and was very interested in the choices that you have made. I respect completely your desire not to participate in an economic/food system that you don't wish to support. I am very much in agreement with that sentiment I wanted to put out another alternative idea, not as a suggestion to you, but as another way of approaching some of the same concerns. And by the way, I am also a musician and live in the same neighborhood. My approach is to choose to pay MORE for my food, buying very carefully and as much as possible from the people who grew and raised it, shopping for things in season and from people who share similar values. Over the years of shopping at the Inwood Farmers market (12 months a year) as well as a food club in the neighborhood that facilitates connections with an organic Amish farm in PA, I have seen that it is possible to go for very long stretches of time without entering a supermarket and also to follow the natural cycles of the year. I do spend more on food this way, but also waste a lot less, having to keep my eyes carefully on the total cost. My kudos to you for trying to live in a way that supports your ideals. That's a wonderful thing. Best wishes.

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SatoM
07/30/2011 18:44

PS I wanted to mention that choosing to pay more, in this case, is also a conscious choice to help support farmers that are devoted to raising food in a sustainable manner and also to farming in the way that their parents and grandparents did before them. Some Amish call it spiritual farming. Cheers!

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07/30/2011 23:43

Hello,
thanks for taking the time to write me. I must say.. most freegans are anti-capitalist. I tent to side with you. I'd rather support the businesses that are doing it RIGHT than not support anyone at all. But I have two problems with that alterative:
1) I can't afford it :/
2) Though it wastes less than it would for me to, say, shop at Trader Joes, it doesn't do anything about the waste that will be sitting outside Trader Joes (whether I shop there or not). I know that I'm only helping a very small amount by taking my food off the curbside. But every little bit helps. Something needs to be done about all that food, it MUST be rescued! So I do my small part.
Thanks again for engaging the conversation!
Peace,
Gio

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