Posts By: Elly Blue

Walking with Ramona (2nd Ed)

Explore the streets, schools, and sights of Portland, Oregon in the 1920s and 1930s—just the way that Beverly Cleary lived them! If you read the Ramona books as a kid (or Henry or Ellen), you’ll love Laura O.Foster’s deep dive into the history and culture of their setting. Includes a guided walking tour, photos, and generous notes.

What It Means that We’re Leaving Amazon

This week, when we made the announcement that we will part ways with our trade distributor at the end of 2018, we also announced that we won’t be seeking a new distribution relationship directly with Amazon. We’ve gotten a lot of virtual high fives for this, and there’s also been some misunderstanding about what exactly this means.

“I feel terrible because I still sell / buy on Amazon,” is one reaction we get. “But won’t your company / authors suffer if your books aren’t available on Amazon?” is the other. The answer is simple, but the background is complex, and this post is meant to help clarify the relationship Amazon has with publishers, authors, and consumers, and will hopefully give you some guidance in making more informed choices. (more…)

Call for submissions: Bikes in Space, trans/nb edition

Trans pioneer Roberta CowellIt’s time: We’re requesting stories for the seventh volume of feminist bicycle science fiction series Bikes in Space.

The fifth volume, Bikes Not Rockets, is funding on Kickstarter through August 8th. The sixth, with the working title Dragon Bike, is in edits. This seventh volume is scheduled to come out in early 2021.

For the first time we’re excited to welcome a guest editor to the series: Lydia Rogue, who stepped in to edit the most recent issue of the Taking the Lane zine, True Trans Bike Rebel, pitched the theme for this volume and we couldn’t resist.

Without further ado, here are the submission guidelines:
The theme for this issue is: trans and nonbinary characters and writers. Working title: The Great Trans-Universal Bike Ride
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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.

The Post-Structuralist Vulva Coloring Book

Never fear, neither gender essentialism nor pretentious continental philosophy are safe from the all-seeing gaze of The Post-Structuralist Vulva Coloring Book. Quotations from postmodern theorists intertwine with diverse vulva imagery from the sacred to the profane to bring you a one-of-a-kind meditative coloring experience. Edited by Elly Blue and illustrated by Meggyn Pomerleau.

Call for Submissions: Introducing the Self Care Healthcare series

Introducing Microcosm’s new open submissions series:

Self Care Healthcare

How do people stay healthy in an unhealthy world? That’s the question this series of small, practical, accessible books will answer, with a focus on taking care of your physical, mental, and sexual health.

Are you a nurse, an herbalist, a physician’s assistant, a naturopath, a surgeon, an acupuncturist, a family doctor, a physical therapist, a midwife, a reproductive health clinic worker, a dental hygienist, a medical anthropologist, an epidemiologist, or any other sort of health expert or practitioner?

What do you wish more people knew about taking care of themselves?

What would you tell your patients if you could see them for longer than 15 minutes at a time?

What knowledge and skills would most improve your patients’ health and quality of life?

This is your chance to share your expertise!

We are seeking authors for short, instructive books that fill a gap in public knowledge and augment the resources provided by the current healthcare system. Books should be focused on building practical skills and understanding the science behind why they work. Holistic perspectives preferred. A focus on the health of people in marginalized demographics is especially encouraged.

Help us reclaim these ideas from the reference shelf and make them easily and cheaply available to the public!

Manuscripts can be 10,000 to 30,000 words. You can come to us with a completed or partial manuscript or just an idea. We prefer submissions for this series by credentialed professionals, but we’ll consider proposals from folks with lots of hands-on life experience in their topic.

To submit, fill out the contact form on our FAQ page and mention that you’re submitting to the Self Care Healthcare series.

A statement about the Alex Wrekk lawsuit

On Friday, January 12th,​ 2018​​ ​Microcosm’s lawyer filed a complaint against Alex Wrekk, Joe’s ex-wife of nearly 14 years ago. The complaint comes after​ over​​ ​a decade of attempts at settlement, mediation, negotiation, accountability processes, and many other earnest attempts at resolution. It is our last resort and one we are not at all thrilled to have to take.

Our sole goals with this​ ​​complaint​​ is to resolve an old conflict so everyone can move on with their lives and end Wrekk’s persistent harassment of Joe Biel, Microcosm staff, and​ ​​people who believe in and support Microcosm.​ ​In 2006, Wrekk began publicly claiming that Biel’s literal communication style and disability to notice and respond to others emotional expression and nonverbal communication neurotypically were “emotional abuse.” Pathologizing of autism is common and if you’re unfamiliar here’s a story on Invisibilia about an autistic doctor who had seven medical assistants quit in one year due to, as she puts it, “over and over again the world didn’t respond the way she expected.”

Wrekk’s persistent campaign o​f ​​ bullying and​ ​neurophobic harassment has caused untold amounts of suffering to ​hundreds of people in the form of stress, ​trauma, ​poisoned​ relationships, canceled events, and ​friends told that they ha​ve​ to choose sides. We wish her no harm; we want only to be left alone to be able to go about our lives and our work without fear​, ​just as we leave her alone​.

We did not​ ​​want to continue having this conflict publicly ​​because our goal​ ​​has always been​ ​to seek an end to this drama. Howev​er, as she ​continues to harass us, we want to again push for resolution so we can all move on and do the things that we want to be doing. If you ​have questions, most of them should be answered here and if you have something pressing that isn’t, feel free to drop us a line.

Update – June 1, 2018 –
As you may have heard, in response to our complaint, Joe’s ex filed a motion to dismiss our case on first amendment grounds—stating that she has the right to continue to harass Joe and the staff and authors of Microcosm Publishing as a matter of informing the community about an issue of public interest. We disagree strongly, and contested this motion to the best of our efforts. Unfortunately, due to the statute of limitations, her motion was successful. We were simply too late in speaking up.

We are deeply disappointed by this outcome, but know that we did our best. From here on out we will continue to focus on our work, publishing books that matter to our readers and providing tools to build a healthier, more empathetic world. We ask that Alex and her cohort do the same: leave us alone as we leave you alone, so that we can all live and do better.

Call for Submissions: Bikes in Space #6

You’re invited! Our Elly Blue Publishing imprint has announced a call for submissions for its sixth anthology of feminist bicycle science fiction, with the theme of Dragons. The deadline is April 1st, 2018 (but it isn’t an April Fool’s joke, despite being a lot of good silly fun). Read the entire call for submissions and start dreaming up your story.

Take our Survey!

We’re not really big on “market research” here at Microcosm. In fact, as the “marketing director,” I can say with authority that most of our “marketing” work involves either submitting unspeakably mind-numbing spreadsheets to various distributor databases or giggling til our stomachs hurt over weird ideas and crass titles that tend to turn into stuff like our most popular books, our poster catalogs, and the most fun new events we get to attend.

But we’ve grown and changed a lot in the last few years (and definitely in the 12 years since our last reader survey in 2006), and we thought we’d check in with you all about what your needs are, how we’re doing, and if you have any wild ideas or pressing concerns that we can address.

So here it is. Please tell us whatever you like. If you decide to include your contact info we’ll add you to our monthly newsletter email list, but we won’t share it with anyone else. If you want to talk with us directly and get an answer to your specific question, feel free to email us.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

The Classic Bicycle Coloring Book

Color happily and reflect back upon the bicycles of your life with Taliah Lempert’s newest coloring book! The pages are perforated and single-sided for easy sharing. Enjoy this beautiful book of bike art!