Blogifesto

Why Not? Minot Festival

August 19, 2013 — by Joe Biel

There aren't many events that we go to every single year for Microcosm, so when we make repeated appearances it's either a matter of three different things: Getting to catch up with very special friends who live there, consistently awesome support for what we are doing, or a truly amazing and inspiring event. Somehow Why Not? Minot Fest offers all three. You wouldn't exactly think of Minot as a cultural epicenter or even associate it with art, necessarily. Which is why it surprised me so much when I made my first trip back in 2006, after seven years away, to discover a vibrant music scene at The Red Carpet, a DIY venue on the outskirts of the city.

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Dinner & Bikes Tour Reflections

July 25, 2013 — by Joe Biel

It's been over a month since we returned home from the now-annual Dinner & Bikes Tour but it remains the kind of activism that I think about most frequently. For those unfamiliar, it involves Elly Blue, Joshua Ploeg, and I renting a car for a month, hitting up a different region of the U.S., and depositing our food and bike love in our wake.

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Get to know Grow: Introducing Designer Meggyn Pomerleau

March 28, 2013 — by Eleanor Whitney

Grow coverGrow: How to take your do it yourself project and passion to the next level and quit your job! is a practical field guide for creative people to achieve success and sustainability on their own terms. Part of Grow’s mission is to empower creative people to come up with innovative solutions to make their creative passions sustainable career options. The first step in that process is to assess where you are and define where you want to go. In the spirit of Grow I posed a series of questions to Meggyn Pomerleau, who designed the book, about her career and goals so far. The issues that Meggyn outlines in our conversation are the ones that inspired me to write Grow: How to balance your creative passion with “real life,” how to understand what you and your creative work is worth, and how to face down an uncertain future with a careful planning.

Right now I’m in the process of putting together a series of workshops around the country this summer that will help creatives like Meggyn plan for DIY success. Until midnight on April 1 (9 pm pacific time) we are running a campaign on RocketHub.com to support the workshop tour and the production of Grow. We’d love to have your support!


How do you describe yourself creatively? What do you do and make and what would you like to do and make?


- I am a graphic artist. I make, draw, manipulate, form, paint, and sketch. Professionally, I'm a graphic designer and I primarily build websites. What I really like to do is illustrate and create typefaces.


What skills do you think are your strongest?


- My communication skills have gotten me to a point where I haven't had to seek out work, ever.  I'm also surprisingly good at drawing using my touch-pad on my laptop.  


What skills do you feel you need to develop? How will you go about this?


- I still need to work on my time management skills, as well as practicing and researching my craft. Unfortunately, because I'm still a full time cubicle drone it’s difficult to find the time to work on my technical skills. That's my main challenge right now--to make the decision to devote myself fully to my passion, or taking small steps to allow myself to have it in the future.


How integrated is your creative work into the rest of your life?

- My life is design, despite having the office job. I dream about typography; I pay attention to advertisements and details in logos, banners, and posters; and I'm constantly brainstorming pieces in my head. If I had to break it down in numbers: 40% of my life is the non-creative office job, 25% is actually creating, and 35% is everything else.

I believe it's completely possible to turn the 25% into 75% if I choose to, but I'm worried about failure, inconsistent work flow, and settling for work I wouldn't be interested in.


What is something you didn't learn in school that you wish they taught about making your life and living as a creative person?


- One thing no one discussed was how to know what you're worth. A lot of fresh graphic design graduates settle for production work, which doesn't do anything for you, creatively.

Additionally, I wish that I had more one-on-one guidance and the professors helped us determine what kind of designer we were, how technically skilled we were, and where we should go to look for work in order to shape our future a bit. Design can be applied to many things, and if it's not narrowed down to a specific category, it's overwhelming to try to decide what category you're going to focus on and try to pursue.


What are your creative goals for the next year? For the next five years?


- This next year, my goal is to develop a consistent style in my design that draws people to my work. I haven't painted in the longest time, and I'm going to start again, to get back to my roots of being an artist.

In the next 5 years, I'd like to work for an agency or something fast paced and high stress or work as a freelance artist full time with clients sending me consistent work.

Grow tips

Check out Meggyn's work in Grow! http://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/3905/

And support the RocketHub campaign here: http://www.rockethub.com/projects/14039-empower-diy-creative-entrepreneurs-with-grow

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2012 Financial Report

March 24, 2013 — by Joe Biel

In the name of fiscal transparency, here's our 2012 financial report! You can read them from 20112010, and 2009 too! We've made a lot of headway this year and feel like we are approaching a good place despite a recession and changing publishing industry. We've resolved a tremendous amount of old debt so big thanks and hugs to everybody who stuck with us this year. We are still working on re-instating last year's reduced wages and healthcare but we are finding creative ways to work out those problems by next October. Here's a toast to continued improvements in 2013! If you want to help, it is always helpful to sign up for a BFF subscription or purchase anything from the site!  

2012 Income $264,226.84 (17.3% decrease)

 

Expenses

=========

Printing Bills $84,418.65 (34.2% increase, 32.9% of budget)

Total staff wages $46,908.84 (a 106.4% increase, 17.8% of budget)

Shipping $39,153.20 (5.9% decrease, 14.8% of budget)

Paid to publishers and distributors $32,306.09 (64.8% decrease, 12.2% of budget)

Utilities, insurance, phone, office supplies, etc $26,716.09 (32.8% decrease, 10.1% of budget)

Rent $10,400 (17.5% decrease, 3.9% of budget)

Royalties to authors $9,911.44 (27.3% decrease, 3.8% of budget)

Zines bought from makers $6,033.04 (68.6% decrease, 2.3% of budget)

Advertising $5,457.80 (81.1% increase, 2.1% of budget)

Catalog Printing $2,638.56 (8.6% decrease, 1% of budget)

Travel $1,251 (71.1% increase, .5% of budget)

Staff Healthcare $0 (0% of budget)

Donations $15,495 (488% increase)

=================

Total Expenses $265,194.71

 

Total $-967.87 (loss)

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Here at the 'cosm ...with the CIA.

February 16, 2013 — by Jeff Hayes

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope all you lovers out there were out lovin'.

We've been active around here lately. Tim is heading down to Austin for Staple, our store continues to evolve, we've got lots of bright ideas for the future, and we're adding lots of new titles on the website!

If you haven't read the new CIA Makes Science Fiction Unexciting yet, you should. It's creepy. It's disturbing. It's angering. Some parts are downright sickening. But it's also exciting, enticing, and undoubtedly interesting. It contains minimal speculation and maximal research. Much of the content is admitted by government officials and operatives themselves. And the book compiles it together to let you see more of the big picture. And it's not a pretty one. Not only does it bring un-skewed history to light, it's a time capsule that you can send to friends and family to provoke thoughts and conversation. Even if they don't want to believe most of it, it's provocative so they can't help reading it anyway. If you've read the original zines, you still want this, because it's all been updated.

;)
Stay safe out there!
-Jeff

  CIA book

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Meet the Interns

January 11, 2013 — by Tim

How’d you get here? Mackenzie: The Northridge Earthquake, which hit just before my before my scheduled due-date, urged my mother to go to her home town to have her lil’ baby. Therefore, I was born in St. Louis Missouri rather than Los Angeles, my real hometown, but permanently moved back to the west coast shortly after my birth. Now, many years later, I go to school in Vermont, which enabled me to intern at Microcosm. I drove up the 5 from Los Angeles all the way to Portland with my good ol’ friend Phil. Elizabeth: Born in Texas, raised in Tennessee, schooled in Vermont - a drive to Albany, a flight to Cleveland, a drive to Knoxville, a flight to Denver, another to Seattle, another to Portland and here I am. Phil: I’ve been an LA boy my whole life, but now I go to school in Vermont. Mackenzie and I drove up to Portland with full hearts and a full...

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A Statement From The Microcosm Collective

January 03, 2013 — by Microcosm

Microcosm has been part of a community for over over fifteen years and as a result, trust is important to us. We have been accused of ignoring and denying relationship abuse and we wanted to take a moment to respond. 

 

It is important, especially at times like these, to honor the experiences of everyone. The way two people experience the same events can be very different for each of them, due to their prior life experiences, what traumatizes them, what triggers them emotionally, their experience, background, and privilege in our culture. As a result, it is very important to see even two seemingly-conflicting accounts as both valid, because often the nuances are what strikes the greatest impact to one person while another person in their shoes might not even notice.

 

It is understandable that this many-years-old issue is often confusing to the public and we have faced extreme staff burnout as a result of attempting to deal with it. We have been called "abuse apologists" and much worse by strangers in a cycle of abuse that does not seem to have a way for the community to heal, so we wanted to offer this update about how the Microcosm staff has responded to this important community issue. 

 

In 2010, each staff person at Microcosm wrote a personal statement, as requested, that they believe in the legitimacy of abuse and that the survivor did experience what she describes. The collective was then asked to write a group statement, which we also did. The collective was then asked to post an updated statement on our own website, which we did. Jessie Duke became co-owner of Microcosm in in 2011 and was the sole member of the managing collective for the following year, also related to the extreme burnout of the entire staff. Elaborate conflict resolution policies were drafted for internal problems and more egalitarian measures were established for accountability of all staff members and their expected performance.
 
Joe took a leave of absence from the collective from June of 2010 til August of 2012. In his absence, the remaining staff made many decisions that felt long overdue. We have performed cross-trainings for staff to understand each other's jobs, our finances, our workload, to distribute power more equally, and to make better informed decisions. Both Joe and the collective attempted to enact further accountability processes through 2010 and 2011 but were not successful at locating someone locally who was able and willing to do so. 

While we did, admittedly promise to offer more updates in June of 2011, we were so inundated with negativity and abusive language that morale, for what we had thought would be a healing gesture of restorative justice, just collapsed. 

In August of 2012, Microcosm was split into two different, autonomous organizations along Publishing and Distribution lines, to attempt to help eradicate the effects of this longterm burnout and create more simplified local communication. Joe's current partner, since 2009, continues to describe their relationship as mutual and healthy. ("I spend a lot of time with Joe, I'd trust him with my life, I'm nobody's fool, and I don't observe anything like what's stated here in any part of his life.")

We felt that we have done what was asked of us and responded to accountability in a responsible way. If you have questions, feel free get in touch.

 

These are the demands made of Joe and his responses of how he feels he has resolved them:

=======================================================================

1) Seek professional counseling (with someone who is not your friend) to deal with your past family issues as well as issues of control, abuse, and manipulation.

(I attended 3 1/2 years of therapy, most of which with Ruth Gibian in Portland, an expressedly feminist social worker to focus on issues of my family history, control, abuse, and manipulation. The first 3 months with her were intensive therapy of four hours per week with ten hours of homework and reading. She determined we were completed working on these issues in May of 2011.)

 

2) Publicly acknowledge that you have issues of abusing power through manipulation.

(I made a public statement about this in June of 2009)

 

3) Do not involve anyone you are dating with your work.

(When Alex wrote me this letter in 2007 I was working with my partner at the time, but since then I have not worked with anyone I am romanticly involved with)

 

4) Show me demonstrable changes in your behavior

(The most demonstrable change can be shown through my current relationship of more than five years where my partner has publicly spoken out about how she feels our relationship is healthy and how she is not being abused.)

 

5) Do not call me, speak to me in public, or send letters to my house (use my po box or speak to the mediators [she is referring to the people who have since been referred to as an "accountability process"] but don't ever send me a personal letter again.

(I have not contacted her in any way since this letter)

 

6) Do not come within five blocks of my house (not including the Credit Union since I know you have to go there)

(I have honored this)

 

7) Do not go to Beaterville Cafe

(Initially, I found this tied to my own healing but have since agreed and stopped going there..but I heard they have since gone out of business.)

 

8) Do not go to Amnesia Brewing

(I never went there after we broke up)

 

9) Do not go to Pause

(I don't know what/where that is and thus don't go there)

 

10) Do not go to the IPRC

(I stopped going there)

 

11) Do not go to any zine reading I am performing at or any shows played by [my partner's] bands.

(I have not attended any of them)

 

12) Stop engaging in "psychological warfare" like writing "I forgave my mother" on my royalty statement or leaving images of your tattoo where I would run into them near my workshop at the Symposium

(I definitely did not do the latter and I was nowhere near the property at the time and the former was not intended to come across this way, though I can see how it did. At that time, Alex and I were still communicating and she was closer to me than many people and was one of the only people in my life who had met my mother. So it seemed like an appropriate person I could tell. In hindsight, the way I intended it and the way she received it couldn't have been more different. And I recognize that was traumatic for her and have gone out of my way to make sure that more things along those lines do not happen.)

 

13) Do not ever mention my family ever again. That upset me the most about your letter.

(Haven't mentioned them again)

 

14) Remove Stolen Sharpie Revolution from GoogleBooks

(Microcosm/I had nothing to do with them using the book in the first place and did not give them permission (at this time they had they had scanned the contents of several libraries and were on the receiving end of several class action lawsuits already). I contacted them as soon as I got her letter and it was removed within a week.)

 

15) Quit using my artwork on the website side bar.

(She was already aware that we had spent the last few years working towards this redesign jump and we did remove it within a few months. It had taken several years for the programmer to overhaul the way the site worked and was already in the works and very stressful for everyone. Ugh.) 

 

16) Disclose any contract or any agreement you have with the publisher of the Alternative Media Handbook to my attorney.

(I had nothing to do with this, had no contract or agreement with them but I did forward the few emails they had sent to me where they had included messages from Alex giving them permission to use whatever they wanted in the book.)

 

17) Pay me the $800 owed for my medical stipend. 

(Microcosm began paying medical stipends in January of 2007 after Alex had quit in October of 2006. The collective (at the time) decided that it could not be afforded until the current production load was paid for, since that was so expensive. A number of different former staffers have explained this to her.)

 

18) Pay Brian for his sticker layout work.

(Brian had paid his rent money to Alex instead of to me in February 2007, when it was actually owed to me. After we talked about this and he explained this to me, I paid myself out of the contract work that he was owed for. I sent him the documents showing that he still owed the money to me. He accepted that and moved on.)

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Introducing the Scene History Series

December 19, 2012 — by Beau Gheale

Are you stoked about the history of your town? Do you find out interesting nuggets by talking to those who came before you or by scouting out details on Wikipedia? Do you want a reason to hunt out some people you respect for them to fill in the gaps?

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New Newness News!

November 05, 2012 — by Jeff Hayes

books!

Just so you know, we've got a lot of super great new titles! Who's excited about Railroad Semantics #2!!?

RRS#2

If not that, how bout the new edition of Mostly True!

MostlyTrue

Raleigh Briggs even released her sequel to Make Your Place, the much-anticipated Make It Last!

MakeItLast

Beyond The Music is Joe Biel's new book, a really great one for anyone interested in the Punk "Scene" or the DIY ethics it brings with it.

BeyondTheMusic

And of course, we can't forget about Everyday Bicycling, Elly Blue's know-it-all book about cycling in any and every situation, a super great guide to get someone who might just be getting into bicycling, or even the bicycling fanatics! :)

EverydayBicycling

Holy Cow! As I was typing this we just got another one in! The People's Apocalypse! This one looks super interesting!

PeoplesApocalypse

If your into that whole Thanksgiving thing, these are all things to be thankful for!
If your into that whole Christmas thing, any one of these would make great gifts!
Or, you could gift one to someone on Nov. 13th for World Kindness Day.
You'll also have to stock up on books to read for Stay At Home Because You Are Well Day at the end of the month. Book Lover's Day doesn't have to end on Nov. 4th, it can last all year!

I can't even keep up around here. I'm going to have to start reading faster...

-Jeff

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Interview with Raleigh Briggs, author of Make It Last: Prolonging + Preserving What We Love

October 01, 2012 — by Tim

What was the inspiration to write about fixing things?

We were throwing around the idea of having a book about canning, I think. But there are a million books out there about canning. I started wondering why some preservation skills were so glamorous all of a sudden, while others went under the radar. So I decided to take that same great energy around canning, pickling and whatnot and expand it to include things like mending and home repair.

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