Last week Saturday on Software Freedom Day, we had our first outdoor booth at a street festival (Rotlintstraßenfest) in Frankfurt. We got the exact location of the booth just the day before. After work, I jumped on my bike and had a look at the scene.
We arrived in the morning and took our time to set up the pavilion and our new banner.
The friendlyness and willingness to help each other at the festival was remarkable. We got electrical power and an extension cord from the tenants of the house behind us. We lent them our 30m cable drum in return so they could start selling their vegan waffles. The barber 20m down the road allowed us to place a Freifunk router in his shop which then meshed with the outdoor router at our booth.
The booth was manned with three people which was still sufficient to allow us to take turns grabbing something to eat and have a look at the other booths in the beginning. We startet to get busy explaining Free Software to people even while we were still setting up the booth, but shortly after the event officially started, we had no quiet minute anymore until a heavy shower washed all visitors from the street for about 30 minutes. I actually forgot to finish the setup of the booth that way.
We offered some mothers with their strolers shelter under our pavilion and helped others covering their material. Then it turned out that our pavilion was more a device designed to filter big single rain drops and turn them into a fine spray. We lost about 20 leaflets on top of the stacks. They got soaking wet by the time we realized what’s going on and could save the rest of our stock.
But as soon as the rain stopped, people returned as quickly and the three of us continued informing them about Free Software and the FSFE. Sometimes the people even lined up or squeezed their arms between the people we were talking with to grab a leaflet for themselfes.
Besides the standard leaflets anyone can order free of charge (with the option to make a donation – nudge, nudge) we had a modified version of the handouts the Munich group created. Links to the PDF versions are on our wiki page, soucre code is also available of course (under CC0).
The stream of interested people didn’t stop. It was after 20:00hrs when I decided to start dismantling the booth while Thomas was still talking to a couple with a bunch of questions. They kept talking until almost everything was packed and ready for transport. The couple helped picking up the last few items and helped us carrying all the material to an area where cars were allowed again. Did I mention that it was a remarkable friendly athmosphere already?
Despite the heavy rain shower and a few drizzling moments, the weather was much better than predicted. Looking at pictures from previous years, the weather forecast probably kept a lot of people from coming. But as I said, we were quite busy serving those who did come!
We also learned a few practical lessons for future booths. As time allows, I’ll feed the wiki page with it.
So, there is not much more to say that this booth was an enormous success for our group. Apparently, we were visible enough to be noted by a journalists who mentioned “Free Software” in his report about the festival in a local newspaper.
Thanks to Björn for suggesting the booth at this nice event in the first place, creating the first contact with the organizers, organizing the internet connection and stay with us at the booth even though he was in pain. And also a big thank you to Thomas, who took part in a workshop with our friends at the CCC Frankfurt where he handicrafted the Freifunk outdoor router for our booth. This allowed us to present one of the many nice things one can do with Free Software. Most visitors already heard about Freifunk in connection with the refugee shelters in the area. And also thanks to Sven, who would have loved to come but couldn’t attend the booth due to unforeseen circumstances.