Saturday, February 11, 2006

Independent Bookstores

Shop at them!

My sweetie's bookstore, Amazon (NOT the web-based bohemouth, but a very cool independent feminist bookstore in Minneapolis) is having its annual Susan B. Anthony sale this weekend. - 20% off and cookies and entertainment to boot. Anyone anywhere near Minneapolis should seriously check it out, though I know it's late notice.

Independent Bookstores are vanishing at an amazing rate. In my own city, we lost The Hungry Mind (Ruminator) a few years ago. Now there are a few "radical" bookstores run by volunteers, a few kids' bookstores, and Amazon. All of those I know about are struggling to keep afloat. A few months ago, M (my sweetie) had the somewhat sad job of calling all of the feminist bookstores that existed in North America a few years ago, and seeing which were still around. The results were not encouraging.

Everytime someone on a quaker list or blog says "this is a great book, get it at" I cringe. It's a little like getting kicked in the stomach.

I think it's one of those ways that I'm surprised and hurt all quakers aren't like me, like some christians are.

For me quaker faith is lived and experienced much in action - it's important how we worship, how we are together, how we seek (and find!) spirit, God. But what drew me to friends is the idea that our lives are lived in God. It's not just what we do at church, but what we do driving (or biking!) to work, what we do at the grocery store, and (is this now too secular?) what we do with our checkbooks (credit cards).

I have never been too big on "charity" (philanthropy) I believe it has its place, but it also finds its foundation in a system of class differences (some people have lots more money than other people, and can choose who of those who need money are deserving) but perhaps that's another entry.

In any case, I therefore find that the ways that we interact directly with the economy of the world around us to be crucial. Every time we spend money we are choosing to do our part to bring about a certain vision of the world. For me that vision is one where everyone earns enough to support themselves and their families, where folks can be proud of the work that they do, where businesses are owned locally (which allows more people the pride of ownership in their own businesses, and allows communities to hold their businesses accountable)

It doesnt' include Walmart (its ugly buildings, its driving-intensive locations, its centralization and distance - both physical and spiritual - between the owners and those they employ and "serve")

It doesnt' include, Borders, Target, or Home Depot either. (all of those commodity needs would be better met, in my opinion, by local booksellers, hardware stores, general stores, pharmacies)

But bookstores are even more a special case. Books are ideas. They are the lifeblood of an educated, informed, involved populace.

When we support huge booksellers, which are primarily (and legally required, if they're publically traded) concerned with profit over all else, we limit our options. There are still a number of small presses in the US (though dwindling as well) - small bookstores buy books from them. They can be bothered. They can respond to individual customers who want those books, and have actual face-to-face relationships with the decision makers at a locally owned bookstore.

Large bookstores already tend not to buy these books. Many to all of their purchasing decisions aer made in a central location by someone who will never see any of the people who buy those books. It's too much of a pain, and why would such a store want to carry a book that challenged, say, capitalism, or corporate structure anyway?

Every time you spend $3 more to buy a book from an independent bookseller, you get a priceless return in terms of a vibrant local economy, diversity, and most importantly, the free flow of ideas.

It's worth it.



this might say parts of it better than I can:

Thursday, February 09, 2006


I wrote another post a few days ago, but it doesnt' seem to be showing up. hmmmm......

I am not sure what I want to talk about.

I have lots of stuff going on in my personal life, and am not clear what's "in bounds" to talk about on a public forum.

Clearly feeling very tender about a perceived tendency of many young christian and theist quakers to band together and draw a line that keeps me out.

Also, coincidentally, more and more aware of how little I "jibe" with many nontheist friends. I seem to find quakerism much less an intellectual exercise than many nontheists.

And realizing that I might go off with those who share my spiritual perceptions and values, if I could (freakin') find any. Where is the mass movement of feminist, pagan, treehugger, vegan (aspiring!), intensely-spiritual-yet-God-free quakers? perhaps I am before my time?



Monday, February 06, 2006

I'm back

Not sure I have anything to say yet. Or, more to the point, I know I have a lot to say, I don't know how much of it can be translated into words and actually put forth here.

But just thought I'd drop in. It's been two months since I've written anything.

I just published a post I started and never finished about my cousin's suicide. I can't add anything to it, though it wasn't done. Nothing more about death in my life since then, thank goodness!

I want to say something wise about suicide, in the aftermath of it all - I have had one peer and one younger than me kill themselves, and I am only 37. I didn't think I would ever know anyone who did that. I dont' know if there's anything wise to say. Don't do it. duh. Some people are in sooo much pain, though. I would say that I really wish there was a way to communicate to people that it's worth asking for help. I really wished, in both cases, that they had turned to me. With my cousin I think it would have helped, with my young friend I really don't know. But in both cases I felt that they felt really really really alone, in a way that they really weren't. I felt that maybe each of them gave up before really risking it all in asking for help - in being vulnerable. I don't know though. I don't have the sorts of demons I think some of my beloveds do. Maybe I simply don't understand.

I did the sweatlodge workshop at FGC Gathering a few years ago, a year after my cousin died. I rememer, before we went into the lodge, the leader talked about how the heat and the closeness can get to people and they need to leave, to breathe, to stretch, but he also said, if you feel like that, say "I think I need to leave" and we'll see if we can make it better, and if we can't, you'll leave. And someone needed to leave, but we shifted around to give more room, and let them move to the back, where it's cooler, and you can stick your hand out the back, and they did that. And it turned out that they stayed. I remember thinking, I wish Jon had been able to do that - to say "I think I need to leave" and see what his loved ones could do - just a little shifting, a little adjustment, a little awareness - to make it possible for him to stay.

I hate that some religions say that you'll go to hell if you kill yourself. The idea that God would be anything but waiting with open arms to comfort one of her children who had been in that much pain is simply too mean.

I don't want to tell people they can't kill themselves. I want to really care about each other so that we all know that we'd be mourned. That we all feel needed, and we all feel free to be what we are, and to ask for what we need, even if it seems like too much.

Anyway, I didnt' meant to write about suicide. It's so depressing.