In the last two months, we've been saddened by closure notices from two 35+ year-old social movement bookstores: Modern Times Bookstore Collective in San Francisco and Internationalist Books and Community Center in Chapel Hill, NC. The latter’s departure makes Firestorm the sole remaining bookshop collective in the Southeast; a loss that hits us hard in the context of an increasingly violent and oppressive political climate at both the state and federal level.
We believe that Asheville, and the Southeast, need spaces like Firestorm. One space isn’t enough, but one is what we have now and in the last six months it has become clear that, like our friends at Internationalist Books and Modern Times, we will be forced to close our doors if we do not dramatically improve our financial position.
Since last May when we announced that we were being impacted by the international boycott of North Carolina, we’ve had time to think carefully about what course of action would put us on a stable footing. Some of these actions are already underway: we’ve launched a new website that paves the way for online book sales and we’ve embarked on a redevelopment of our cafe menu to better meet our customers’ needs. We believe in our ability to grow, and our entire collective has voluntarily taken temporary pay cuts to create the space necessary to do so.
As members of an anarchist collective, we split our time between running a conscious, co-operative business and supporting Asheville’s grassroots communities. In the context of a saturated coffeeshop market and a flagging publishing industry, this has only been possible due to the sacrifice and undercompensation of our labor.
While we are willing to make sacrifices, we can’t keep doing so without steady support from our community. We’ve heard many of you state that you want a specific way to contribute, so today we’re launching a Firestorm Community Sustainers Program.
Sustainers will ensure that our co-operative continues to have the resources needed to do grassroots community work that is unmonetized and accessible to everyone. This includes hosting over 200 free and unique events per year, providing space for numerous activist organizations,* offering free computer access, regularly donating resources to local changemakers, and acting as a platform for the community work of our members.
To ensure our survival we’ve determined that we need to sign up at least 50 sustainers by January 1st, 2017. If you can afford as little as $7.50/month, we’re asking you to take action now and help us meet this goal. As a way of expressing our appreciation, we’ll offer you a discount on all purchases and a snail mailed copy of our monthly community events calendar, loaded with content that you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you helped to underwrite.
So if Firestorm is important to you, or if you also believe that the Southeast needs grassroots institutions that are radically democratic and committed to a vision of liberation for all people, please visit the following link and join our Community Sustainers Program! <3
* Including The Center for Participatory Change, Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Accion, Asheville Showing Up for Racial Justice, Asheville FM, Asheville Vegan Society, Green Grannies, Rainbow Community School, The Steady Collective, Tranzmission Prison Project, WNC Veterans for Peace, and numerous other meetups.