heads together: CDFI.
Federation of Creativity
might have heard the name, or you may have walked past its
wildly decorated storefront window on Madison Avenue between
Lark and Dove streets. The Capital District Federation of
Ideas has become, in the year and a half it has been around,
one of the most active DIY community arts collectives in the
A registered nonprofit corporation, CDFI is headquartered
at a space they call Point 5, the former location of the Deluxe
Pie Company, at 383½ Madison Ave.—hence, Point 5. Since its
opening last June, Point 5 has housed scores of CDFI activities,
lectures, and events such as a Banana Party, a potluck Love
Dinner, and a winter prom in August. The quirky community
space also has a free clothing exchange, a book-lending library,
and weekly movie nights.
The Federation began in October 2005 with an idea of Bryan
Hamill and his friends, who had recently graduated from college,
to start a nonprofit. This group of friends was already widely
known in the area punk-music scene—before they cooked up plans
for CDFI they were playing in the experimental band Amazing
Plaid. Three original members of Amazing Plaid, Hamill, Tom
Wilk, and Heater Williams, have since begun a new electro-punk
musical project called Zahnarzt. The sound and stage presence
of both bands inform the general approach to CDFI: atypical,
edgy, and spontaneous.
At the beginning of 2006, acquiring a building space was a
long-shot idea for CDFI’s founding members. They expected
to be holding meetings in the living rooms of different friends’
apartments for at least another year, but “then this place
fell into our laps and we had to take it,” said co-founder
Wilk at a weekly meeting.
have small weekly accomplishments in CDFI,” said Wilk. “Last
week we got a recycling bin.” Another cofounder, Kim Eisen,
is currently in the process of applying for a $7,900 general
operating grant from the New York State Counsel on the Arts.
The group has also just launched its voluntary-membership
system called the Neighborhood, which will help CDFI grow
financially and socially. By donating dues of $5 per month,
members chip in to cover the more than $6,300 total cost of
renting and heating Point 5 per year. “Anyone who joins the
Neighborhood will have the pleasurable feeling of knowing
that they have helped contribute to the financial nondeath
of CDFI,” said Wilk.
The landlord of 383½ Madison Ave. has recently offered to
pay the cost of hiring an architect to draw up a new floor
plan for the building so that the Department of Safety can
issue a permit allowing Point 5 to always be an open space
for public use.
But, to Wilk and company, money is just the boring stuff.
CDFI has a full schedule of great fun for the coming months;
the past few weeks in particular have been “packed to the
brim,” as member Cait Denny said.
Last Saturday the group hosted its second Craft Derby, a daylong
event at which local crafters sold their unordinary goodies.
The chilled-out derby offered button earrings, radical T-shirts
and books, hand-concocted bath salts, nipple postcards, lacquer
screen-print patches, and Wild Ass Tonic hot sauce, among
boatloads of other non-grandmother-like crafts. Keep your
eyes peeled for more monthly craft derbies in the Spring—they
plan to take the event outside to the sidewalk when the weather
Tonight (March 15) at 8 PM CDFI will be holding an Ides of
March Date Rodeo, a fundraiser auction which not only prizes
dates but also gift certificates to Spectrum 8 Theatres, Debbie’s
Kitchen, and Ben & Jerry’s. With a fog machine, a raised
catwalk, and DJ Kellan Scott spinning tracks all night long,
the Date Rodeo at Point 5 just might be the hippest party
around. Attendees and participants are encouraged to dress
outrageously for this event because the Albany All-Star Roller
Derby girls will be there.
On Saturday at 4 PM at Point 5 you can hear R.M. Englehardt,
Poet Essence, and Joseph Krausman as part of the Behind the
Egg reading series, and on Tuesday, March 20 at 7:30 PM you
can read your own poetry at CDFI’s bi-weekly Open Mic without
a Mic, hosted by Algorhythm.
CDFI fully encourages any members of the public community
to join the group, attend any of its events or meetings, or
stop in Point 5 just to say “hey.” After all they are a federation
of ideas, and new neighbors with new ideas are exactly what
keep the group going.
For more information, check out www.federationofideas.org.
Beat This Week