Small Biz Spotlight on Brown Bear Herbs

Zines featured at the Brown Bear Herbs store

In an ongoing effort to tell the world about the great places that valiantly stock Microcosm’s work, this week we’re highlighting Portland’s own Brown Bear Herbs, an herbal apothecary in NE PDX.

Founded and run by herbalist Arati Ursus, Brown Bear Herbs stocks herbal cigarettes and blends, crystals, tinctures, teas, and a curated selection of wellness zines. Curious about this magical place, we asked Arati a few questions about what they do at Brown Bear…

 

1. What’s the story of Brown Bear Herbs? What makes you most excited to get up every morning and do what you do?

I like to help people wake up or become lucid with their personal stories. For me, herbal healing has been one of the biggest sources of “aha” moments and realizing that my reality is not as fixed as I thought. We can transform our realities. Calling certain things “bad” is poisonous to our minds and not at all conducive to deep healing. I like to make “bad” things “good”. I started with herbal chocolates that address the reasons people supplement with chocolate–mostly emotions. Now I primarily work with smoking blends and the reasons behind smoking. People can heal their
addictions by the same means that binds them. This is transformation!

I love hearing success stories from people who have quit smoking using my herbal cigarettes. Breaking free of addiction and dependence on greedy corporations is super empowering. It makes me smile to see it happen.

“Mother Earth, we are here to learn.”

2. Thanks for selling the books and zines we publish and distribute! What are your favorite ones that you get from us?

“Blood and Boundaries herbal bath, a chunk of raw hematite to ground intense energy and “What the Ladies Have to Say” to read while you’re in the bath.”

We have really been enjoying the School of Life Designs–but also like to have on hand political zines and books to help people get out and make a difference.

3. What’s your favorite thing you have in the shop right now?

A trio of support/empowerment: Our Blood and Boundaries herbal bath, a chunk of raw hematite to ground intense energy and “What the Ladies Have to Say” to read while you’re in the bath.

4. Based on your interactions with customers in the last couple months, what’s your prediction for our political/cultural future? Or what would you like to see happen?

I am inspired by the level of outrage and activism I see. I’d love to see a increasing surge in loud, voices and sharing personal stories. Everyone’s voice matters and everyone deserves respect and human rights. I want to see the realization that we (the collective minorities and undervalued and those who believe in human rights for all) are actually the majority and we will get what we demand.

Check out Arati’s shop online at BrownBearHerbs.com and in the real world at 309 NE Wygant Street, PDX, or follow them on instagram: @brownbearherbs or on Facebook.

The team at Brown Bear Herbs

Good Trouble Giveaway

Greetings!

One thing I love about my new position at Microcosm is that now I get to give away books — free! I mean, not all the time… but a lot, and it is becoming one of my favorite things to do.

Here’s the deal: This year I’d like to spend time telling the story of not Microcosm but the people who work here, make us what we are, and helped build this business along the way. But for each month I’d like to host a great big book giveaway of past books! Each giveaway (hosted on Goodreads) will offer up 50 copies of one back-list title.

For the first, though, we start at the beginning:

Good Trouble: Building a Successful Life & Business with Asperger’s is the memoir of Joe Biel, Microcosm’s founder, and the story of Microcosm itself; how it came into existence, the troubles it (and its members) faced along the way, and how it became what it is now [a thriving indie publishing house with books and zines all over the world, of course]. The history involved is deepened by Biel’s rocky childhood and (at first un-diagnosed) place on the autism spectrum. Published one year ago to mark Microcosm’s 20th anniversary, Good Trouble dives into all the shit and splendor that’s gone into making us who we are, from the very beginning.

Check out this book trailer from a kickstarter project launched for the book’s release:

So, starting today and ending March 31st, just before the start of Autism Awareness Month, enter to win one of 50 copies of Good Trouble, and get a nitty-gritty glimpse behind the Microcosm curtain.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Good Trouble by Joe Biel

Good Trouble

by Joe Biel

Giveaway ends March 31, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Stay awesome and good luck!

Cyn

Indestructible, Edition 3, Now Available

While our web-shoppers have been able to snag the new edition of Cristy C. Road’s rad intersectional memoir via our website, the rest of the world has had to wait– for today!!

Starting today, Indestructible: Growing Up Queer, Cuban, and Punk in Miami is now available wherever your favorite books are sold!

And, you know… on the website still too…

But what’s it about?

In her Miami high school, Cristy Road fought valiantly to figure out anddefend her queer gender identity, Cuban cultural roots, and punk-rock nature, and just be her own damn self. Her illustrated memoir of those times is particularly ideal for today’s social climate. Through daring writing and illustrations Cristy reminds us of the strength and ability of punk youth—for addressing things like rape, homophobia, and misogyny. This is no exception; giving a voice to every frustrated fifteen year old girl under fire from her peers for being queer or butch or punk.

Is it any good?

We think so! And other people do, too; here’s some of the praise it’s gotten:

“Literally drawn from the intersection of Road’s Cuban identity, her queerness, punk rock, …this portrait in black and white is electric.” — BUST Magazine

“Refreshingly candid, Indestructible is a worthwhile read for teenagers who are struggling with their journey in to adulthood, particularly gay teens, and for adults who have forgotten how difficult the teenage years are.” — Mass Movement

Road’s novel is a testimony of survival ­ a powerful reminder of how we must create (and re-create) our identities ­ whether the mainstream is with us or not.”— Feminist Review

“[Road’s] artwork is a party on the page, or a riot, or a revolution. With language and imagery she is creating a mural of radical joy.” – Michelle Tea


Who’s Cristy C. Road?

Cristy is a Cuban-American artist and writer currently in Brooklyn, NY. Her previous works include Distance Makes the Heart Grow Sick, GreenZine, and Bad Habits: A Love Story. She can be found sharing her radical art and magically rad new tarot deck on her website.

Getting in a rebel mood…

This month we asked a few staff members to share something they dig about a few of the books & zines in our new Rebel Alliance Superpack

Jeri Cain:

Edible Secrets: “Seems like the CIA tried hundreds of times to kill Castro, and still he died an old man.  He vowed to not die until he saw the destruction of America.  Then Trump was elected.  Castro died soon after….”

The Spanish Civil War: “A fascinating read with lessons to be gleaned in our current political climate.  Hemingway’s participation as a war journalist led to his penning For Whom The Bell Tolls.”

Cyn:

Coping Skills: Social and political burnout is getting more and more real by the day, people! I’m exhausted! Dr. Faith’s very useful zine is getting me through it one tip at a time. My favorite parts:

“Escapism is intentionally moving to another space in a mental and emotional way… It gives you a chance to soothe your tired self without getting trapped in a nasty cycle of perseverating on memories. Seriously. Go to a thrift store and buy up all the Babysitter’s Club books, run a bubble bath, and escape the fuck up outta this mess. Doctor’s orders.”

and

“4) Put something new in the world that didn’t exist before. Destruction, as you well know, is not an abstraction. It’s a very real entity we cope with on a daily basis. … When other people out there in the world take away from you, create back.”

Everyday Bicycling: One of the things we love about bikes here is the level of freedom they allow for so many different types of people. When I first started riding (I couldn’t afford transit tickets and was about to lose my car) this useful tome gave me a really good foundation to start from. And if you think about it (we do!) if the apocalypse comes, bikes are going to be the way to go, so start learning now!

Tomy:

Six Days in Cincinnati: Socially relevant, informative, and poignant… this is exactly what comix journalism is all about! It’s a must read for everyone who lives in this time of turmoil and social injustice, especially those who need to be reminded of what happens when the United States falters.

Projects Worth Kicking

Our Biketopia kickstarter campaign is going well (only 4 days left to be a part of it) and I just wanted to highlight a few other projects going on too that we love, and just had to share.

 

#RESIST Through Our Eyes is a documentary telling the experiences and concerns of deaf and hard-of-hearing people living in these turbulent cultural times (are there ever not turbulent cultural times?), and how they work to make their voices heard.

From the kickstarter: “… will follow and document Deaf and Hard of Hearing people’s personal experiences and concerns when their human and civil rights are violated, challenged and threatened in the current political climate of chaos, toxicity, propaganda, “alternative facts” and uncertainty that exist under a regime Administration.”

 

This LGBTQ+ webcomic looks cute “af” and I can’t believe I hadn’t seen it before this kickstarter, but I’m now in love. “Go Get a Roomie!” is looking to print the 2nd volume of the webcomic (and reprint the first).

From the kickstarter: Go Get a Roomie‘s first book focuses on Roomie’s wild hijinks and the characters’ personalities. The second book softly branches out to a more tender and spiritual look on these growing bud(die)s, by focusing on the relationship.

Bringing oldies back and breathing new life into superheroes,“Not Forgotten,” A Public Domain Superhero Anthology is doing one of my favorite things — making something old new again, and being creative as hell while doing it. Assuming they give due credit to the original creators and bring diverse voices to the table, this looks like a rad comic project.

From the kickstarter: Reimagined by top creators in the industry, this anthology collects over 20+ short stories paying homage and tribute to some of the greatest heroes and heroines lost to time with brand new, never-before-seen, exclusive tales bringing these amazing creations back to life!

An Honourable Mention goes to “The Little Particle That Could,” Particle Physics For Kids, which is already funded but just too fantastic — I’m a firm believer in teaching young kids science in creative ways.

 

And if you haven’t checked out our campaign for Biketopia yet, check out the video below and help support the writers and creators involved….

This Valentine, would you be our… Patreon?

This year we’re diving into Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows YOU to be more involved in what WE do, particularly when it comes to our DIGITAL content.

First, it’s our way of putting all of this digital goodness together in one place. Second, it’s a way to send you zines and books that we love and recommend and believe in and think you will too.

While you can support us at pretty much any level… Might I suggest our new Zine of the Month club? A new zine sent to you every month and our latest e-book. You basically can’t go wrong.

Consider it a collection of tools and resources for the rebellion—the inspiration, motivation, and reminder that you aren’t alone in your fight.

See more here!

Happy Birthday Microcosm!

This year, Microcosm celebrates 21 years of getting shit done and growing your small world.

More fun than a beer in a bookstore, and much better for you, punk rock press Microcosm Publishing is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year. After so much time in the biz, 2016 was our best year ever and we have the world’s zinesters, readers, and fans to thank.

Established in 1996 and still true to the same mission, Microcosm uses a unique vertical integration model to thrive in an industry many thought dying. We now have a backlist of over 400 empowering books and zines, plus a friend and fan network across the globe. “Microcosm replaced my own drinking and it’s amazing to watch how self-empowering books that help you create the life and world you want to see are needed more than ever. Now, 21 years later, we are focusing around our own sustainability in order to amplify marginalized voices,” says founder Joe Biel. This year we’re diving into our mission more than ever, working to build diversity in the industry, tell even more outsiders’ stories, and empower readers around the world, one bad-ass book at a time.

This year, we’re building a rebellion and healing our selves with books like Unfuck Your Brain, getting wild with cultures in Basic Fermentation, growing with Cats I’ve Known, and having all the fun with our idols in a new edition of Henry & Glenn Forever

Joe Biel and Elly Blue sharing Microcosm with the world, 2016

Microcosm has long diverged from established publishing culture and industry practices, not least by focusing on publishing marginalized voices: representing women, people of color, queer folks, people who are transgender, people living in poverty, and those with disabilities. Now that we have entered what Roxane Gay has called “this rising age of American disgrace,” we are committed to doing this even better. Women of color, autistic queer kids, anyone who is thriving and forging ahead despite the odds, we want to hear from you.

To celebrate this milestone, we’ll be blogging, vlogging, sharing, snapping, and tweeting about our history, staff, and community. Later this year we’ll also be releasing a special 21st Anniversary zine compiling original content about the people that got us here and why we do what we do.

For more info, check out our blogifesto, catch up on our history with our latest comic-poster catalog, join us on patreon, or subscribe to our newsletter.

New on Kickstarter :: Biketopia!

Now on Kickstarter: Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures!

Contained are 10 stories, a comic, and some rad reviews, all focused on this triumvirate of themes: Bikes – you know, the things you ride; Feminism – the more inclusive and diverse the better!;  and some form of Extreme Future – utopias, dystopias, etc..

 

If you’re in the US with us, you might already feel like we’re in our very own “extreme future” right now. With everything going on, that’s understandable, but these rad-as-hell stories might just be the thing to pick you back up and show you a new way of looking at it all.

Love and resistance in the end times, solarpunk ecotopian visions, crushing social control, and the freedom (hopefully) of life on two-wheels, are all explored in a book that, honestly, I’m hella excited to be a part of.

Some of the titles include… “Riding In Place”; “Questions With The First”; “Signal Lost”; “Maaike’s Aquatic Center For Bicycles Raised By Fishes”. So far every time I finish a story I like the whole book a little more, but so far my favorite is Gretchin Lair’s “Signal Lost” (graphic below). Am I allowed to have a favorite? Whatevs, I’m doin it!

At the moment, we’re just under 25% funded, and there’s plenty of time to help us reach our goals!

In a few days I’ll hopefully be back to spread some of the kickstarter love with another Projects Worth Kicking post. Also, I’m super excited to say that all of the projects I highlighted in the last PWK post succeeded and flew past their goals! There’s so much good work being done out there.

[Side note: if you don’t follow us on social media (T, FB, I), ya should! There may be some special giveaways and freebies floating around while the project is running… just sayin…]

Stay strong, stay awesome.

 

 

 

On the Podcast: Kate Berube, children’s author and illustrator

Today on the podcast, we talk through Kate’s journey of sixteen years to become a children’s illustrator and author. We discuss about racism, her time working for Trump, her current resistance to Trump, what she went through to get published, and share many tips for combating depression, writer’s block, and hard days in general.

Cyn’s Picks for January

I know I’m not alone in being hella grateful that 2016 is finally over. Because last year was particularly bad, I’m looking forward and not back as much as possible. But I also want to learn and grow in the new year. So here’s to a new year of progress, not purgatory, and happy reading.

 

I’m re-reading and still in love with our new graphic novel, Soviet Daughter. It’s just the right amount of personal narrative, history lesson, and feminist survival story, with wild hand-done art.

 

 

Thing Explainer is currently my favorite gifty book, because I’m kind of in love with infographics, and I love complicated science but am terrible about learning. This makes learning fun again, which is awesome, and there’s a sense of humor to it that I adore.

 

Despite basically being a picture book, Thin Slices of Anxiety is particularly feels-inducing, and filled with a painful amount of truth for anxiety-sufferers, but in a non-threatening adorable style; like a truth-punch to the chest followed by a soothing, prickly hug of camaraderie.

 

Along similar lines, This is your Brain on Anxiety is a great primer on what the fuck is going on when you’re suffering from anxiety, and offers possible relief, while This is Your Brain on Depression gave me a lot more confidence in my understanding of [the many types of] depression, as well as my approaches to solutions. I’ve sent both zines to some of my best friends because it resonates with me so much, and the information is so critical.

And if you’re like me, your best bet is probably to start an emotional support collection with Dr. Faith’s 5-Minute Therapy Superpack.

I’ve mostly avoided the coloring book fad, but The Bicycle Coloring Book: Journey to the End of the World still captures my attention every time I open it. It’s fascinating and bizarre, like a tome of bicycle-themed science fiction dreamscapes, and this is a coloring book worth diving into and exploring.

 

Oh! I almost forgot!

https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/zines/7776My last favorite is the zine-ledger we recently
picked up, Leaflet, that my partner and I make. It is a tracking ledger (like a wine journal or beer diary) for legal cannabis: You write down the details and effects of marijuana strains you try, that way you can actually remember the ones that blow your mind the next time you’re at a dispensary and lost in a menu.

 

 

Honorable Mention: I can’t wait to dig in to “Grief and Other Things Men Gave Me.” Elly described it as “like if you took a feminist essay and the most intense stories of your life, mixed it together and boiled it down to make bullets with,” and I really dig that.

 

Happy reading!