Monthly Archives: May 2018

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!

Bicycle / Race

Bicycle / Race 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 colonial history of southern California is interwoven through Adonia Lugo’s story of growing up Chicana in Orange County, becoming a bicycle anthropologist, and co-founding Los Angeles’s hallmark open streets cycling event, CicLAvia, along the way. When she takes on racism in the world of national bicycle advocacy in Washington, DC, she finds her voice and heads back to LA to organize the movement for environmental justice in active transportation.

In the tradition of City of Quartz, this book will forever change the way you see Los Angeles, race and class in the United States, and the streets and people around you wherever you live.

This is Portland (2nd Ed)

Updated with a new edition for 2018 and 50% additional material, This is Portland is a first-hand look at a city that people can’t seem to stop talking about. It’s a guidebook of sorts, but not to restaurants and sightseeing. Instead, Alexander Barrett is your friendly guide to the quirky characters and atmosphere of Portland, Oregon and how fun, beautiful, and ridiculous it can be. With its approachable, often hilarious tone, this book is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about bikes, beards, beers, rain, and everything else important about the city you’ve heard you should like.