The org tables are the stars at CCAN-Con, a volunteering and activism fair taking over the Ped Mall Saturday

CCAN-Con Community Engagement Fair

Iowa City Ped Mall -- Saturday, July 23 from noon to 6 p.m.

A local organizer stands by their table at CCAN-Con 2020 inside the Iowa City Public Library. — courtesy of CCAN

Corridor Community Action Network will host its second-ever CCAN-Con on Saturday at the Ped Mall. The convention, last held right before the onset of the COVID pandemic in 2020, is a community engagement and volunteer fair founded by CCAN Director Mandi Nichols. Local organizations will be tabling, as well as providing various workshops and training.

Nichols told Little Village she hopes the event will provide a springboard for community members who want to participate in local action.

“[We want] to help residents get involved in meaningful action, surrounding issues that they care about, in ways that work for them,” Nichols told Little Village. “There are a lot of people who want to be involved in community building and positive change but don’t really know where to start. [We’re] trying to turn getting that information into a fun day-out event.”

The first CCAN-Con took place inside the meeting rooms at the Iowa City Public Library, which proved a little tight for the 22 participating organizations and vendors. However, this year CCAN has rented out the Ped Mall, giving the 31 attending orgs — such as the ACLU of Iowa, Iowa Abortion Access Fund and Iowa City Free Lunch Program — more space to capture convention-goers’ attention.

Nichols intends for the convention to become an annual festival, similar to those put on by Summer of the Arts. While local organizations do table at other downtown festivals with some success, Nichols believes CCAN Con’s direct focus on community engagement will fill a previously empty niche.

“I want to create an event where the crowd that’s going to come is going to be … rather than just a couple people incidentally at a table at a fair or arts fest who ask questions and get involved, we want to create a situation where people will be coming specifically for that purpose,” Nichols said.

Corridor Community Action Network — Jason Smith/Little Village

CCAN’s plans to make the event annual have been on hold for the past two years due to the pandemic, but Nichols said she’s far from worried about the hiatus putting a damper on momentum for the event.

“We were a pretty small fledgling network [in 2020],” Nichols said. “When we did the first [convention], CCAN had only existed for about five months, and [CCAN-Con] was still really successful at that point. But now we have so many relationships with so many different organizations, and people in the community know who we are. I think that we’re going to have a much bigger turnout and a much bigger event than we did before.”

The new outdoor setting is more spacious, helps mitigate community spread of COVID-19 and allows for a full schedule of live performances on the Ped Mall stage throughout the day.

Dave Zollo: 12-12:45 p.m.
All Killer, No Filler: 1-1:20 p.m.
Galaxy: 1:35-1:45 p.m.
Josh Payne: 2-3:15 p.m.
Joe Cool: 3:30-4 p.m.
Miss Christine: 4:15-5 p.m.
The Soft and Low: 5:15-6 p.m.

Fans of air conditioning can still participate in the con from ICPL. From 1 to 5 p.m., ICPL’s meeting rooms A–D will be home to workshops including Environmental Advocacy & Letter Writing with the Iowa Environmental Council, and Bystander Intervention for Creating Safer Communities with the University of Iowa’s Women’s Resource and Action Center.

Room A
1:00-2 p.m.: “Bystander Intervention for Creating Safer Communities” with WRAC
2:40-3:25 p.m.: “LGBTQIA+ Awareness” with Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission
3:40-4:25 p.m.: “Unconscious Bias/Implicit Bias Training” with Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission
4:35-5:20 p.m.: “Know Your Rights” with Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission

Room D
12-1 p.m.: “Staying Safe: Protective Strategies for Street Protest” with Iowa City Mutual Aid Collective
1:30-2:05 p.m.: The Proposed “Right to Firearms” Amendment on the November Ballot with Temple Hiatt
3:30-5:30 p.m.: “A Letter to My Body: Ode to Hot Girl Summer” withMonsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity (open-house style, drop in any time in this window)

Room E
12-1 p.m.: Protecting LGBTQ Families in a Post-Roe World with One Iowa
1-4 p.m.: “Foundations of Trauma” with Four Oaks
4:10 p.m.: “LGBTQ 101 for Allies: An introduction to LGBTQIA+ Identities, Terminology, and What You Can Do to Help the Queer People in Your Community” with Kai Kiser of Iowa City Free Lunch & Girls Rock!

Even with all these performances and workshops on tap for the event, Nichols said she is most looking forward to seeing representatives from local orgs for the first time since 2020.

“I’m excited just to get to mingle with other organizers,” Nichols said. “We have monthly networking meetings with other organizations, but those have been over Zoom for the last two years. This is the first time in quite a long time that we’ve done anything in person with other organizations on this scale.”

Organizations interested in tabling at the event can sign up by emailing Individuals interested in volunteering or donating supplies can sign up online.

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