A Day in the Life of… Intern Edition

Every few months a batch of brave young creatives joins our crew for a while to learn, explore, and help out around the office. Some volunteer for fun, experience, out of boredom, or for school credit, and every year we get more and more requests for “how can I help!” and “do you take interns?”.
So I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to what being a volunteer here is actually like, from the volunteers themselves. It’s been a while since I was one myself, so I asked a few others to talk about their average day.
Check out the juicy details below.

(more…)

Where We Work: The Story of Our Building

This post was researched and written with Microcosm intern Lydia Rogue.

microcosm's green storefront today
As Microcosm kicks off its 23rd year, we’re taking a look at our history, starting with the building we now occupy with our office and bookstore. When we purchased the building in late 2013, it had already been around for sixty years! We painted over its dull beige exterior with bright green and purple paint that only upset one neighbor enough to leave some alternative sample paint chips taped to our door.

The location was always zoned as a small office space, even when it was originally built in 1953. The original owners were H.C. Plummer & Co, a real estate agency who sold houses all over north Portland.

But it was in 1957 that the most famous occupant moved in – the NAACP moved their credit union here from the house of the organization’s leaders, Otto and Verdell Rutherford; by 1964, the NAACP also had their chapter headquarters here and was the place you went to register to vote.

three people holding up a calligraphed sign

The 14th Amendment graced the walls of the NAACP headquarters. Photo courtesy of Oregon Historical Society

Portland has a long history of racism, and during the 1950s and 1960s, the Albina district (where we call home), was one of the few places Black people were allowed to live. Most banks would deny them home loans – and real estate organizations deemed it ‘unethical’ to sell them a home in a ‘white’ neighborhood.

The NAACP advocated strongly for the community and against school segregation and racist real estate practices. Under the Rutherford’s leadership in 1953, the historic Oregon Public Accommodations Act was passed, making housing discrimination illegal, among a wide range of other changes.

An undated photo taken at the NAACP headquarters – at the far right is Otto Rutherford, next to his daughter Charlotte. Photo courtesy of Oregon Historical Society.

While most of N Williams has been gentrified over the years, buildings torn down and turned into parking lots and trendy shops, this building remains, nestled between historical markers that proudly document African American history all up and down the road.

The NAACP remained in this building until 1983, when they moved to NE Portland.

This Oregonian news article that ran on August 2, 1983.

The credit union, however, remained for several more years, until the building changed hands yet again in 1990. This time, CH2A & Associates took up residency in the building – a consulting firm that specialized in affirmative action, labor relations, conflict resolution, personnel management, and counseling.

Harold C. Williams Sr. co-founded the firm and was its president at the time of his death in 2012. He had been a community leader and on the board of directors for Portland Community College. His son (Harold C. Williams Jr.), following in his father’s footsteps, currently has an active political career.

Now, we hold down the fort in this building, trying not to freeze in the winter or melt in the summer, and trying every day to live up to the activists who worked here before us.

Rad folks doing rad shit

We’ve recently started the kickstarter project for the next issue of Taking the Lane: True Trans Rebel, and it’s got us thinking about all the cool stuff Microcosmonauts are working on right now beyond the books. From quilting to writing, conscious coffee to queer romance, and more.

Here’s some of the cool things we’re doing right now…

 

Jeri Cain Rossi has made our sales numbers blossom in her time here. This spring, she has a collab art show at xoBruno, featuring her quilting formed into amazing Japanese style boro bags.
Check it out until the end of the month and learn more at www.xobruno.com/blog/first-friday-with-jeri-cain-rossi

 


Cyn Marts, our publicity director who hooks folx up with our books and runs our giveaways, just launched a feminist wellness subscription box aimed at cannabis-enthusiasts. With accessories, tools, munchies, and featuring Microcosm books The Stoner Babes Coloring Book and The Feminist Weed Farmer. Learn more and join the babes at manic-pixie-stoner-babes.cratejoy.com or follower her on instagram @manicpixiestonerbabe.


 

Writer Cat Caperello has contributed to several EBP titles with creative flair, including Pedal Zombies. This month’s they’re running a kickstarter to bring their dream business to life: coffee with a conscious.
Check out this rad caffeine biz, Woke Coffee, at www.kickstarter.com/projects/wokecoffee/bring-the-woke-coffee-espresso-cart-to-north-portl

 


 

Administrative Assistant Trista Vercher has a lot of passion projects in the pipeline. From queer romance to mental health, their art is as rad as they are. Check out these sketches!

Follow them on twitter @Vercher_Ink.

 


 

 

Continuing his autism advocacy work, Joe Biel is working to build up more zines, resources, and websites for folks on the spectrum and the people that love and care for them.
You can learn more about upcoming zines like Proud to Be Retarded and Your Neurodiverse Friend and their calls for submissions at .

 


 

Jamae Sabangan, current intern and all around awesome, is working on a couple urban fantasy novels called Shift and Rain, both set in PDX and each following a twenty-something protagonist who’s racing against the sands of time. She also runs a website that shares ways to find joy and personal success in creativity. The site’s most recent ongoing project features multi-passionates and how they integrate their multi-layered interests into daily living.

Details on these, along with her other creative work, including a poetry series and fairy tale retellings, can be found at HintofJam.com.

 


 

Lydia Rogue, currently interning and guest-editing True Trans Bike Rebel, spends their time focused on creative writing!
“My job? Writing. Internship? Writing. School? Writing. Volunteer work? Writing. Relaxation? Writing.”
They’ve been focusing on their poetry, queer fiction, and writing about writing, as well as reviews of resources and solid advice on how to get your write on even when you’re broke af. You can catch their fiction and writing advice on their Patreon.

 


Kelsey Williams, who just finished up with our intern program, spends her time working on her book, started back in 2013. It’s a young adult fantasy book that features tortured souls and a world teetering between life and death, and another she turns to when having writer’s block for the other, which is contemporary fiction with tidbits of poetry and a bittersweet romance. When not writing and editing books, she’s writing on her blog– anything from book and film reviews to veganism topics to travel adventures. You can find her blog at http://www.emourly.com

 


 

And did we mention True Trans Rebels? This latest issue of Taking the Lane (#15) is the passion project of Elly Blue, guest edited by current intern Lydia Rogue and featuring Trista Vercher’s rad art of River the genderfluid Kitty.
The project is live at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ellyblue/true-trans-bike-rebel-taking-the-lane-15 and you can check out the video below.


Are you doing something awesome? Let us know!

Say hello to our rides

We love Bike Month — another month-long chance to give books away and show off some of our favorite stuff. From Adonia Lugo’s amazing new book, Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance, to the many bikes of Portland, to our beloved classics, Bikenomics, Everyday Bicycling, and SO MANY MORE.
And today, we want to share something a little different, so let us introduce… our bikes.


Trista: Purple Raine   purple bike

This is #2 in my Purple Raine series, and we are still in the puppy love stage of our relationship; we haven’t had any crashes yet. Raine #1 and I had quite intimate knowledge of the bushes on the side roads of Memphis, TN…


Cyn: Red Dwarf

This star and sticker-covered bike was gifted to the office by a friend, and I fell in love right away. It was a good 20 pounds lighter than my bulky steel thriftshop bike (simply called Red, who sleeps in our yard while waiting for a fix-up), had only a third of the problems (frame not bent! wheels that didn’t need truing! brakes that didn’t stick!), and it even featured my favorite shape (stars!).


Elly: My bike is a Kona Lava Dome mountain bike that I converted into a longtail Xtracycle almost a decade ago. It’s my pickup truck. I’ve carried friends, pets, boxes of books, groceries, plants, furniture, lumber, you name it. We have a six-foot bamboo trailer that I can hook up to it for even more capacity, like for hauling all the stuff we’re going to sell at an event.
My bike is my muse, it’s constantly reminding me of the real potential to do whatever I can dream.


Lydia: My bike was a gift from my grandmother. I’d originally bought it to train to commute to work on it, but by the time the weather was decent enough to ride (I was in Bellingham, WA at the time), I was about to move to Portland and far enough away from work it wouldn’t be feasible. After moving in with my mechanically-inclined girlfriend, she gave it a tune-up and I’ll definitely be riding it more once summer officially arrives. (I’m definitely a fair weather biker and I’m okay with that.)


Joe: Dainty

I used to work at the Bike Project in Bloomington, IN. A guy I know came in one day to build a touring bike. We found a brown frame with no parts on it that was completely rusted over. I put about ten hours into finding components that would fit and building it up. About the time that I finished building it, he stopped showing up. I was the same height as him. So I waited two more weeks and adopted it as my own. I had set it up just how I wanted with two road tires, a coaster brake, and a single speed. But into my mid 30s, my health was such that it was too hard to swing my leg over the saddle. I put upright bars on it and a basket for my service dog. I loved it. But it was cobbled out of literal garbage. One day Elly called me to say that my dream bike with a step-through frame and bright orange paint job was on clearance down the street. $300 later, I can tell you that riding a bike with matching parts is much smoother and functional – and I don’t mind having seven speeds either.

 


And don’t forget!

We’ve giving away bike books this month! Ten copies of Bikequity and a grand prize of Adonia Lugo’s upcoming book Bicycle/Race!

Check out the giveaway below, and enter soon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Woah. It’s National Bike Month.

So, here we are in the first weeks of May, surrounded by books about feminist cannabis, Portland eccentricities, and, of course, bikes: bicycle infrastructure, social justice in bicycling, bikes you can color, and more. And that’s cool– we kinda love bikes.

But this post is not actually about us, it’s about you; winning books. Because it’s Bike Month. And what’s my favorite way to celebrate a month dedicated to sharing and learning about bikes and bicycling culture? Come on, you know the answer…

A giveaway!

This month we’re giving away 10 copies of Bikequity: Money, Class, and Bicycling, edited by Elly Blue and featuring work by Tamika Butler, Adonia Lugo, Do Jun Lee, Gretchin Lair, V.K. Henry, Lauren Hage, Tammy Melody Gomez, Phill Melton, Cat Caperello, Joe Biel, Julie Brooks, Kassandra Karaitis, Katura Reynolds, Rebecca Fish Ewan, Rhienna Renée Guedry, and Adrian Lipscombe.

And this time, there’s also a GRAND PRIZE:

ONE WINNER will also get a copy of the brand new book by Adonia Lugo, Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, and Resistancewhich won’t be available in bookstores until October.

Interested yet? Here’s more about the books…

In Bikequity, Elly Blue curates a writing collection that explores the intersections between social justice and the bicycling world. The contributors to this volume of Taking the Lane zine tackle of the potentials and realities and unintended consequences of trying to create a better world using human-powered transportation.

In Bicycle/Race, Adonia Lugo, PhD, paints an unforgettable picture of Los Angeles—and the United States—from the perspective of two wheels. This is a book of borderlands and intersections, a cautionary tale about the dangers of putting infrastructure before culture, and a coming-of-age story about power and identity.

The giveaway runs till May 28th, so enter, below, soon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

So, as usual, you have several different ways to enter: following us on social media, tweeting about the giveaway, giving your opinion, or signing up for our newsletter. Choose one, a few, or all of em, and may the odds be in your favor!

Win the Classic Bicycle Coloring Book

Taliah Lempert’s coloring zine was one of our bestselling and favorites, and now she’s releasing a full sized adult coloring book of her amazing classic bicycle artwork with us, and we absolutely adore it.

This month this family friendly coloring book is officially in stores, meaning you can get it at major and indie bookstores around the country (or ask your local art and gift shops to pick some up!).

You can also get one on our site, of course.

Or!

Win one!

 

You can enter just by signing in (using an email address or facebook) and get extra entries by doing things like visiting us on social media or tweeting about the contest.
(Please note that we can’t add your name into the contest outside of the rafflecopter platform. The good news is that it’s really easy!)

Giveaway runs til April 27th, so enter, share, and good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make Your Place 2E in stores now; Or win one HERE

The brand new, hardcover, 10th anniversary, 2nd edition of Make Your Place is officially in stores and everywhere tomorrow– so how do we celebrate?Make Your Place cover

GIVING SOME AWAY!

If you’ve never gotten to check out this charming DIY tome, you’re missing out.
It’s full of simple skills that anyone can and should learn, from creating tinctures and salves, to concocting all-natural cleaners, to gardening basics, and more. 

It’s  great for anyone looking to live more simply and truly do it themselves. And this new hardcover format has a smooth, durable weight to it that doesn’t disrupt the book’s hand-made feel.

I’m giving away 5 copies of the snazzy new hot-off-the-press hardback, do-it-yourself must-have. You’ve got until midnight on March 27th to throw your name into the hat. If you’ve haven’t entered one of our new giveaways this year, we now use Rafflecopter as a contest platform, which is weird but handy. So check out the strange form below and the different ways to enter.

May the odds be in your favor ;-D

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cannabis As Empowerment with the Stoner Babes Coloring Book

Cannabis, currently only legal in about half of the US, is a dicey topic that tends to either get reactions of full-on support, disinterest, or disdain. We’ve been blown away by the initial support of the project (so many shares!) and disconcerted to see some backlash against the presence of cannabis themes in our catalog. So with just over 24 hours left in our Stoner Babes kickstarter project, I wanted to take a sec to talk about why we’re publishing it.

The more we learn about the science behind cannabis, and the racist history that brought it to where it is now in cultural mindsets, the more we see the stories of femme, marginalized, and differently-abled folks who use cannabis for positive change as important to share.

In this first take on that goal, Katie Guinn has presented a dreamy collection of self-identified “babes” beyond the stereotype of lazy, munchie-fueled stoners who are most often white, straight, cis, and male.

Personally, in my time in Portland I’ve found an incredible network of womxn who use cannabis as a tool for self-empowerment, self-improvement, and to stay healthier and happier. I’ve felt supported as a woman and a person of color, a stoner and a creative, flawed human being. So when The Stoner Babes Coloring Book was brought up as a possibility, here was a mission I was firmly behind: highlighting diverse stoners who successfully use cannabis as a power for good in their lives and communities. Yes, please!

 

And now, here with are, with one day left and less than $100 to go. We got this, babes!

-Cyn, Microcosm’s Resident Stoner Babe

Learn more about the work behind the book, and Katie’s thoughts on cannabis as empowerment, on the kickstarter page at Microcosm.Pub/SBK.

22 Years and Counting — Where Were You?

This month Microcosm celebrates its 22nd anniversary — can you believe we’ve been growing small worlds for over two decades??
Yeah, us either. 22 years is a long time, so out of curiosity, I asked some of our staff what they were up to when Microcosm was just beginning.
Some of us were young rebels or struggling punks; some were bookworm romantics; some were babies!
Check it out all the juicy personal details below, and tweet us @microcosmmm to tell us where you were 22 years ago.

Joe in Joshua Tree

Joe

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?
At shows + parties in Cleveland. Young, drunk, angry, anxious rocker.
What was your life like? What were you up to?
It was chaotic and unpredictable. I was riding my bike with a gallon of homemade alcohol on the handlebars to the next adventure.
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?
I’m no longer angry, anxious, or drunk but I’m still young and I’ve achieved the specificity of my vision more than I ever dreamed possible and shared it with the world.

Elly

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?
I was 17, a high school dropout with serious wanderlust and a lot of idealism.
I was making zines in my bedroom, reading books I found out about in the Whole Earth Catalog, working, and preparing to run away and hike the Appalachian Trail later that year.
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?
In the past decade, a lot of what’s motivated me is wanting to make the sort of books and resources that saved me when I was a teen. Young me had some pretty intense values and I’ll always try to live up to them.

Baby Kayla

Kayla

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?
I was in a suburb east of Seattle, being a baby.
Eating, crying, pooping, laughing, etc.
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?
I would like to think I’ve become a much more capable, interesting person, but not nearly as many people tell me I’m cute. So, you know, you win some, you lose some.

Trista

Young Trista’s diary comics

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?

I was 5 and growing up in the south. I was mostly a ball of hair and daydreams.
What was your life like? What were you up to?

Young Trista’s diary comics

I think I was in kindergarten or first grade then so I had school which was really cool cuz the place I went to we sign language and french was part of the curriculum (sadly I didn’t retain much of it over the years). Other than school stuff though I was pretty much in my head all the time, drawing and reading. I didn’t really need supervision because I could occupy myself for hours with some pencil and paper. TV was pretty new for us, AC was more of a priority, so when we did have it I was watching the best of the 90s cartoons haha.
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?

I’ve moved a lot, been through college, came out as trans, was homeless for a short period, met some wonderful people, struggled with mental health, and now I get to work around books all the time so life is pretty good at the moment.

Kristine

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?
Literally: Oakland/San Francisco. I was a book-loving nerd, like I am now.
What was your life like? What were you up to?
Lots of art openings and poetry slams and substance abuse. Here’s a pretty good scene report. I didn’t have sex with Daphne Gottlieb, but I kissed Michelle Tea, and hung out with Bucky Sinister all the time.
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?
Better: I don’t do drugs anymore. We had a fun kid so I hang out with my family more often.
Same: The books are still terrific. I will read anything by Beth Lisick or Bucky (check out his new Black Hole novel) or Michelle, and I heartily recommend the Kapow! poetry/comics anthology that just came out.
Worse: I don’t get to see as much live music/art shows/poetry/performance art as I used to, but am working to improve that. It’s hard to bring a kid into a nightclub, so thank heavens for Gilman St.

Nathan

Young Nathan

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you/your life like?
 1996 was a turbulent time for me personally and a lot like Joe’s big decision to start his own company, I also made a huge decision which monumentally altered the course of the rest of my life. I had graduated from high school in 1994 and started college, but then dropped out to work full time and then after a year I quit after an argument with my boss. I was dealing with a lot of inner turmoil due to some childhood trauma between my father and I which manifested itself in lots of rudderless wanderings between work and school, and arguments at home were frequent, despite my trying to work things out. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. It was also around this time my mother, who had previously been my ally, made a comment to me about not being able to get a job due to drug use. In a moment of desperation I went to my previous boss at my former job for advice and mentoring, she suggested joining the military. Based on that one recommendation and my mother’s concern, I went to a recruiter station in defiance to show her I could pass a drug test, but the strictest drug test of any employer. Unfortunately, even after I joined, they weren’t ready for me to start basic training, so I had to continue to live at home with my parents for an additional three months before leaving for basic training in September of 1996. Military life was rough because as a result of running away from an abusive father I was suddenly surrounded by what felt like a hundred abusive adult men all yelling and screaming at us privates to try harder and push ourselves further. It was the most micromanaged I’d ever been. It felt like I had traded one male adult over stepping their bounds and attempting to control every aspect of my life to a hundred adult males attempting to run me into the ground. It was a very important time for me as I attempted to reconcile with the hard truth that I had dropped out of school, quit my job and ran away from home because I had serious issues with authority figures as a result of that childhood trauma, and it was going to continue to follow me no matter where I went or what I was doing, so if I wanted to truly be free of my fear of those in authority I was going to need to find a way to surround myself by people who directly opposed authority in all its forms whether it be in government, the workplace or personal relationships I could finally see power and the abuse of that power to be the true source of all my pain and suffering.

As a result, and after several years of soul searching, I finally found Microcosm Publishing and a place where my pacifist, punk rock ideals could be encouraged. Every day I reminded of this by a poster I walk past each and every day that gives me hope in humanity and the role I can play in bringing it to a better place, “i will not rule and also ruled i will not be.”


Cyn

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?
I was an 8 year old bookworm and an early Romantic, feeling quite displaced in North Carolina after moving from south Florida not long before.
I was obsessed with Sailor Moon, and magic, and fantasy books, horses and unicorns, and feminist pop/rock music like the Spice Girls and Alanis Morissette. I helped take care of my brother, a toddler at the time, and spent a lot of time at my family’s workplaces. I had a Sega Genesis and played Sonic and Ecco and played Doom on our cobbled-together PC. I spent lots of time imagining or in books, my mom reading the Wizard of Oz series to me, my dad, The Hobbit.
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?
I’ve moved across the country — one coast to the other — which has changed virtually everything. I traveled a lot before now, which I actually blame on a wanderlust my mother instilled in me with sudden roadtrips and activities throughout my childhood. (Having driven across the country three times now, that wanderlust has mellowed out quite a bit.)
I didn’t know it at the time, but I grew up poor, and my parents spent years working to build a better, more stable life for us all, so by the time poverty was something I could understand, we weren’t dealing as much with it anymore. As an adult I’ve re-entered this cycle, but every year things get a little bit better financially, and mentally for that matter. Growing up I also had a lot of basic, unfixable health problems — anxiety, dismenorrea, insomnia, ulcers, etc — that I learned to put up with, and eventually learned to manage more functionally with cannabis, which (growing up in an opinionated Puerto Rican family that said NO to drugs) I never thought I’d do, and things continue to be on an up-swing. These days I feel fully independent and capable, and supported by my workplace, which I love. 22 years ago, this is not the life I would have expected, but I dig it 🙂

Sidnee

Looks like someone took away Little Sid’s book…

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?
I was hanging out in my teen mom’s womb, waiting to come disrupt her life in the best way.
What was your life like? What were you up to?
Life was chill, just developing limbs and organs!
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?
Things have just changed, period. I think I’m due for a rebirth soon. I’m really glad I was born, and I’m really glad Microcosm joined me in the endeavor of existence.

 


 

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And if you haven’t yet, don’t forget to enter to win our March mental health books on the blog HERE!

On the Podcast – Bringing Your Book To Its Audience

Microcosm owners Joe Biel and Elly Blue bring you a workshop they presented at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association regional trade show, about the importance of connecting your work to an audience and the vitality of putting books in boxes (and all of the various dangers and how to avoid them).

Link