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The worst name for a party? Poopstock

Thursday, October 25, 2007

T-shirts sporting the words “Poopstock 2007: ‘that’s a horrible name for a party’ ” perfectly captured the slightly irreverent, do-it-yourself aesthetic of the neighborhood-block-party-for-a-cause that took place on Saturday at the intersection of George and Ives streets.

“We silk-screened them ourselves,” said Sarah Grenzeback ‘07.5, one of Poopstock’s organizers. “The idea is to help support Caitie Whelan (‘07.5) and the (Merasi) school in whatever way we can.”

This June, Whelan opened the Merasi School in Rajasthan, India, “to provide a community-based education that gives each student the opportunity to ignite and sustain constructive change for the Merasi,” according to the group’s Web site. The school attempts to counter the caste-based marginalization that threatens the Merasi culture.

To help the Merasi School, where Whelan still serves as director, raise money to reach its current fundraising goal of $15,000, Whelan’s housemates and neighbors decided to organize a party that featured live music, a cake contest and a bike show.

“A group of seven or eight of us started talking about it about a month ago,” said Hannah Pepper-Cunningham ’08. Describing how this idea turned into a reality, Pepper-Cunningham added, “Snowballed would be a very good term.”

Poopstock’s unconventional name came to Pepper-Cunningham fortuitously, when she noticed that a shirt saying “Jopstock” worn by one of her classmates had folded so that only “opstock” was visible. “I was just daydreaming,” Pepper-Cunningham said, “and I was like, wouldn’t it be funny if it said Poopstock?”

The cake contest was particularly popular because ‘contestants’ were asked to produce winning cakes for whatever individual categories they decided to create. The results were uniformly hilarious and ranged from “Most Leafy” – a beautiful chocolate cake topped with mint leaves, raspberries and a single green gummy frog – to Tatiana Sverjensky’s ’08 “Most Post-Apocalyptic-Dinosaur-Wetlands” – a mashed-up island of cake surrounded by a sea of blue icing, streaked with red frosting and crawling with plastic dinosaurs. All of the cakes, edible and otherwise, were raffled off at the end of the event.

The bike show was equally unconventional. Both the riders and their bikes were decked out in outlandish costumes and paraded around the lot to the applause of partygoers.

Vanessa Adams ’08, who adorned herself and her bike in garlands of fake flowers, enthused about Poopstock: “What’s better than baking cakes and dressing my bike up like a garden? We’re having fun, being outside and supporting something that’s really positive.”

Featured at the event were Brown student bands such as Butter Days (for which Herald Senior Editor Jonathan Sidhu ‘08.5 is the drummer) and the Polyps, as well as current and former members of the Old Time String Band, including Josh Lerner ’07, who later switched from banjo to guitar to perform a set of his own. “What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?” he sang as partygoers bought Merasi School T-shirts that said “Ignite Change” and admired the cakes. Whelan, sitting off to the side and drinking tea from an enormous ceramic cup grounded the frivolity.

Poopstock felt hip, laid-back and improvised. Between 150 and 200 people attended, and the party exceeded its fundraising goal, earning $732 for the Merasi School. Former Herald staff writer Allissa Wickham ’09, referring to her “Most Dolly Parton-esque” cake, might as well have been speaking of Poopstock itself when she said, “It’s very homemade-looking, but I think that gives it character.”

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