Wednesday, March 07, 2012 9:26 AM
A town without bookstores is like a town without churches or bars. Minus the hymnals and happy-hour specials, the best bookshops are vital community centers where patrons can gather, share ideas, and have grand revelations or quiet discoveries. When Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, New York, began to fail, it tapped into the strength of its community with an inspired idea: cooperative ownership.
Last spring, rather than shuttering its doors, Buffalo Street Books sold shares of the independent shop to 600-plus local “co-owners,” raising more than $250,000, reports Christina Palassio in This Magazine. Less than a year later, the co-op bookstore is thriving.
What makes Buffalo Street Books’ co-op model successful? “The owners and employees of Buffalo Street Books do so much to make the store more than just a store; they’ve turned BSB into a community within a community,” says Chloe Wilson in The Ithaca Independent:
The store holds lectures, writer’s workshops, and reading groups on a regular basis. The store reaches out to Cornell and IC professors and works with them to supply books for their classes. The store encourages burgeoning writers and invites them to share their work. People who go to Buffalo Street Books aren’t just customers or employees, they’re members of BSB’s community.
In an industry already complicated by declining brick-and-mortar sales, answering to hundreds of shareholders has potential to add another layer of difficulty. “The messiness of running a co-op may not appeal to many beleaguered bookstore owners,” Palassio writes in This Magazine. “But with the rise in community-supported projects like [CSAs] and websites like Kickstarter and Unbound…the line between investor and customer is blurring.”
Keeping hometown bookstores alive makes the complications worthwhile. As novelist Ann Patchett told the New York Timesafter opening Parnassus Books in Nashville’s book desert last November, “I have no interest in retail; I have no interest in opening a bookstore. But I also have no interest in living in a city without a bookstore.” Like Buffalo Street Books, Parnassus Books utilizes the support of the community. Its Founder Rewards Program offers perks and discounts in exchange for member dues that range from $75 to $5,000.
In case you missed it, watch Patchett deftly explain the value of independent bookstores on The Colbert Report below. And don’t forget to support your local bookshop. The bars and churches are busy enough, aren’t they?
Sources: This Magazine(article not available online), The Ithaca Independent, New York Times
Image by Quinn Dombrowski, licensed under Creative Commons.
Margret Aldrich is an associate editor at Utne Reader. Follow her on Twitter at @mmaldrich.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011 5:05 PM
Our library contains 1,300 publications—a feast of magazines, journals, alt-weeklies, newsletters, and zines—and every year, we honor the stars in our Utne Independent Press Awards. We’ll announce this year’s winners on Wednesday, May 18 at the
MPA’s Independent Magazine Group conference
in San Francisco. From now until then, we’ll post the nominees in all of the categories on our blogs. Below you’ll find the nominees for the best Social/Cultural Coverage, with a short introduction to each. These magazines are literally what Utne Reader is made of. Though we celebrate the alternative press every day and with each issue, once a year we praise those who have done an especially exceptional job.
The only print magazine dedicated to feminist critiques of pop culture, the exuberant, indestructible Bitch enlists dauntless writers to carry out its mission by combining serious study and a healthy sense of humor. The Portland-based quarterly also showcases indie art, music, film, and literature.
invites “thinking mothers” to share everything—the joys of parenting, the sorrows, the hiccups—in each exquisitely written, sharply edited issue. There’s no sugarcoating here, but neither is there complaining: just reflection and wisdom to spare.
is a magazine about food, but it brings much more to the table—from scholarship on cuisine-related culture, history, and literature to provocative visual imagery. Like the best kind of dinner partner, the magazine is sophisticated and charming, a skilled conversationalist, and always introduces us to something new on the menu.
The editors at Goodbring a fresh eye to a diverse range of weighty subjects—like the rebirth of New Orleans, the reinvention of our neighborhoods, and the renewal of a meaningful workplace—and wrap them all up in a snappy package. Serving a progressive community motivated to move the world forward, this magazine is beyond good.
tagline is “feminisms in motion,” and they whip through the pages of this biannual like an intellectual storm. Each issue hosts bold, one-of-a-kind arguments and creates a lively community of writers, artists, and activists who stretch the boundaries of gender politics.
The editors at Mental_Flossamaze, astonish, and educate with the quirkiest of topics and attention-grabbing headlines to make The Onion envious. (Our favorites: “How Lasers Can Protect You from Pirates” and “Amish Baseball: The Greatest American Pastime”) Masters at the art of magazine making, the irreverent but ever intelligent editors always give us something to talk about.
Striving to change lives and transform communities, Oregon Humanitiesgives us blissfully clear, thoughtful reportage on the things that make us human, including history (ancient and contemporary), literature and language, ethics and philosophy, and various cultural, religious, and folk traditions. No matter its subject, the insightful quarterly challenges us to reconsider the day’s most vital issues.
Some of the things This Magazine was about in 2010: bamboo, Iraqi cartoonists, the Black Panthers, and pirate snobs. With those topics and cover stories ranging from Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan to voting reform, This Magazine finds a way to cover a vast swath of territory intelligently and accessibly.
our complete list of 2011 nominees
Image by Nimbuzz, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, October 28, 2010 1:10 PM
Every week we share links to stories, articles, and other interesting things we’ve come across online for you to enjoy over the weekend. It’s the utne.com crockpot; we add the ingredients for a great online meal.
Fun! Get your own miniature copy of Patrick Somerville’s “The Universe in Miniature in Miniature” from featherproof books.
Do you know what a mosquito heart looks like? How about a rat’s retina? There are some truly amazing photos from the winner’s of this year’s Nikon Small World Competition that will blow your mind.
Conservationists have found a new species of monkey that sneezes when it rains, due to its upturned nostrils. These monkeys apparently sit with their heads between their knees when it rains. Awwwwwww.
Check out The Free Verse Project: Picture a Poem.
Conservatives for public transit? We know it sounds as dissonant as liberals for Sarah Palin, but Grist has a provocative interview with the head of a conservative pro-transit group who says better mass transportation—especially rail—is a matter of national security, wise government spending, and racial norms. (Yes, he touches that third rail.)
The New York Observer
educated us about Longreads, an aggregator that brings long-form journalism back to into the lives of commuters who read on mobile devices and use applications like Instapaper. Nate Freeman explains: “Each piece on the Longreads site indicates the number of words and, using the average reading speed, the approximate amount of time it will take to read. For instance, the Vanity Fair piece that went up today about House Republican leader John Boehner contains 4220 words, and will take 17 minutes to read. Sounds like our daily commute on the F train! Perfect!”
Cover Spy secretly tracks down what people are reading in public.
What if they held a meeting to discuss the extinction of many animal species, and no one paid much attention? That unfortunately is what’s happening at the current Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan, which is not registering high on the U.S. mass media radar but whose agenda ought to matter to anyone concerned with the fate of species—our own included. Mongabay has a nice rundown of a massive new study being released at the conference, while E publishes a pithy commentary on what’s at stake, and Boing Boingexplains the meeting using Star Wars references for the sci-geek crowd.
Bill Nye (you know, the science guy) is the recipient of the 2010 Humanist of the Year Award, and The Humanist has adapted parts of his awesome acceptance speech.
This Magazine explores the consequences of Canada slamming the door on Mexico’s drug-war refugees.
Thursday, June 24, 2010 12:35 PM
The good vibrations rocking the World Social Forum, which has already brought over 10,000 spirited activists to Detroit, will no doubt be trumped by expected protests this weekend in and around Toronto at the G8 and G20 summits, host to the world’s financial power brokers—including U.S. President Barack Obama, who penned a letter last week urging member countries not to weaken global economic recovery by focusing too much on debt reduction.
While it’s a good guess the politicians will be droning on about interest rates and trade agreements, various activist groups—working on a wide-range of issues, such as AIDS reduction, child labor, and maternal health—will aim to provide reporters with something a bit more colorful. In anticipation of criminally riotous behavior, in fact, more than 5,000 cops and security personnel are on hand in Ontario. And yesterday morning, some of them got a little action when a Toronto man was found to be in possession of explosives and suspected of planning a summit-related spectacle.
It’s a good guess the alleged perpetrator, reportedly a licensed private investigator named Byron Sonne, was too busy stockpiling common household chemicals to read the May-June issue of This Magazine. In a short “how to” section titled, “Civil Disobedience isn’t for Dummies,” the Toronto-based bi-monthly doled out advice on how to survive a G8/G20 protest in “style (and safety).” Getting arrested before the summit starts was not on the list.
Among other things, activists are encouraged to travel with people they trust; educate themselves on the history of civil-disobedience, as well as current tactics employed by various groups; and decide beforehand what tactics fit your personal convictions. (Y’know, like, are you happiest while singing “We Shall Overcome” or when tossing Molotov Cocktails.)
As for wardrobe:
Pack protective shoes you can run in; heavy-duty gloves; shatter-resistant eye protection; clothing that covers most of your skin; a gas mask or goggles with a vinegar-soaked bandana for protection from chemicals; and noisemakers. Optional: rollerblades and a hockey stick to shoot back tear gas canisters—Canadian-style.
Yeah, that’s right you politically correct American progressives, in Canada sports fanaticism knows no boundaries.
Check out Utne Reader’s current cover story, “The New Face of Activism.”
Source: This Magazine
Thursday, March 25, 2010 3:25 PM
For anyone who’s ever dreamed of residing in an environmentally-conscious community, Craik (population 450) has lessons to share. Over the past decade, the Saskatchewan town has reinvented itself as a bona fide eco-village, This Magazine reports.
The magazine breaks down the community’s green transformation into five straightforward steps, but the most interesting has to be #1: Find a small town. As This explains: After decades of rural flight, many small towns are eager for new ideas—and new residents. I’m curious how the social dynamics play out (a bunch of eco-newcomers descending on an established community?), but the potential for a win-win scenario is equally intriguing.
“When Saskatchewan’s Prairie Institute for Human Ecology first suggested the idea of an eco-village in 2001, Craik jumped on it,” Kelly-Anne Riess writes. “Seeing the project as a chance to address climate change and revitalize its community, [Craik] donated 127 acres of land for the eco-village.”
Source: This Magazine
Image by MissusK, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 5:15 PM
Through her camera lens, Nadya Kwandibens sees Native people in urban settings as an opportunity to both empower and showcase indigenous lifestyles and cultures. In This Magazine, Lisa Charleyboy profiled the First Nations photographer, who transformed her own feelings of isolation and an "impluse to heal through art" by connecting with other indigenous people in the city and photographing them. Charleyboy says Kwandibens “asks her subjects, ‘Who are you as a Native person within the city?’ The resulting photos are witty, meticulous, poignant.”
Kwandibens has also formed a vibrant online community called Concrete Indians, where First Nations artists across the United States and Canada can connect with each other and post photographs. According to Kwandibens, the name originates “from a nickname the older folks back in the '60s used to call young Native people moving/living/working in the cities.”
She tells This, “By sharing and being so giving with the Concrete Indians series, people really started to connect and find something they can relate to in the images. They are able to see these beautiful brown faces all over North America. We are all so connected.” You can view photos of Kwandibens’ work through her gallery, Red Works Studio.
Source: This Magazine
Image by Brooke Anderson, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009 4:41 PM
The Baby Boomers were never bestowed the honor of being named the “Greatest Generation.” They got to witness the beginnings of the tech revolution, only to realize that an 11-year-old kid could do more with a computer than they would ever be able to. Now, in what should be their golden years, they’re being attacked.
Writing for This Magazine, RM Vaughan takes a shot at the increasingly helpless Baby Boomers. He writes:
While I don't condone violence, I can condone a reasonable, humane culling of the aging herd. They don't have to actually die, just virtually pass away. And here's how: if you are a boomer, stop. Just stop. Stop working, stop acquiring, stop micro-managing your (and my) universe, stop sucking the life out of popular culture, stop going outdoors in those ghastly Crocs and Tilley Endurable hats, and, please, stop talking about how you're eventually going to stop and, instead, stop. Now.
A similar point was made by Joseph Hart in the September-October issue of Utne Reader, when he wrote:
They promised a revolution and boy did they deliver. Safety net: shredded. Social Security: squandered. Liberalism: perished. Fairness: forgotten. Great Society: whatever. Do I even need to mention climate change? AIDS? The Monkees? So now they want to pass on their wisdom to the rest of us. Uh-huh.
Poor Boomers. They just can’t get no satisfaction.
Sources: This Magazine, Utne Reader
Thursday, August 21, 2008 12:37 PM
Therapy and 12-step groups are two of the most popular routes to recovery for people addicted to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. But some scientists are looking to pharmaceuticals in hopes of breaking the cycle of addiction.
Anti-stress pills are one drug that scientists believe could fight addiction to alcohol, Melinda Wenner reports for the Scientific American. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health and University College London administered a stress-reduction drug to highly anxious recovering alcoholics, which reduced their craving for a drink, especially in high-stress situations. The study didn’t prove whether stress medication could help alcoholics long-term, but represents another step forward in efforts to treat addiction with pharmaceuticals.
A more radical drug therapy for addiction is being pioneered in Canada. Writing for This Magazine, Peter Tupper profiles a nonprofit rehabilitation facility in British Columbia called Iboga Therapy House, where addicts are administered ibogaine, a drug classified as Schedule I in the United States (meaning its in the same category as cannabis, heroin, and LSD). The extremely powerful drug induces “a dream-like state lasting anywhere from 24 to 36 hours,” during which patients are monitored by medical professionals. Ibogaine's main benefit seems to be relief from painful withdrawal symptoms, and many subjects report a near or total cessation of cravings after the treatment ends. Ibogaine is unregulated in Canada, and its questionable legality makes the drug’s efficacy difficult to track, but facilities like Iboga House appear to be part of a growing subfield of pharmaceutical addiction treatment.
, licensed by
Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.
Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!
Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of Utne Reader for only $29.95 (USA only).
Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 6 issues of Utne Reader!