by the Civic Media Center Board
Going back decades, the Civic Media Center’s Board, with the help of the coordinators and volunteers, have organized a fundraising event in the spring, which we cleverly named the SpringBoard.
The goal was to raise funds to put us ahead financially before the slower period of summer, by means of a community dinner event where we could celebrate with our supporters, present a notable speaker, and with the partnership of United Faculty of Florida, Veterans for Peace, and the Alachua County Labor Coalition, occasionally present the Jack Penrod Brigadas Award to a local organizer/activist.
In the initial years, the event was a house party, which it outgrew and became an event at varied community locations, including the Matheson Museum, the Thomas Center, Prairie Creek Lodge, the Wooly and, most recently in 2019, Forage Hall at Working Foods.
2020 was supposed to be there too, but the pandemic put the kibosh on that. Instead, the CMC experimented with digital events over the summer of 2020, including talks on the history of Seminary Lane and on mutual aid organizing in Gainesville.
Here for 2021, we have adapted to the options available to us, and a practice we knew not much about last year – but now we all know – an online event using Zoom.
On May 21, at 6pm, join us over Zoom to hear from author and bookstore owner Danny Caine. Caine is the owner of the Raven Bookstore in Lawrence, Kansas, the winner of the Midwest Independent Bookseller of the Year Award, and author of several poetry collections and the book “How to Resist Amazon and Why.”
With the Bessemer, Alabama unionization drive, the labor abuses at Amazon were in the national spotlight, as was the possibility of concerted resistance and solidarity against Amazon and all tech giants. While Amazon pushed anti-union propaganda, many workers testified to the reality of working for the tech giant, which made clear how high the cost of convenience really is.
In “How To Resist Amazon and Why,” Caine outlines the history of the tech giant and the brutal conditions in Amazon’s warehouses. He also suggests ways that we can refocus our civic and financial investment to support our communities, not big businesses. Caine’s book was originally a zine, and the paperback edition was published in 2021 by Microcosm Press.
The Raven, Caine’s bookstore, has been in business since 1987, with Caine taking over ownership in 2017. The Raven is the only survivor of three other specialty bookstores in Lawrence, Kansas, with the others driven out of business by the arrival of Borders Books in the late 1990s.
Caine is dedicated to the Raven’s place in the Lawrence community, and the place of local bookstores in communities more generally. Speaking with Publishers’ Weekly, Caine described running a small business in the era of Amazon as an “uphill battle,” but one where customers are able to shop their values, even if it costs a little more. Caine told Publisher’s Weekly the Raven’s “mantra” is something like “Yes, you are paying more, but you get a lot more with it: author events, community support, political activism, donations to charity. The book costs $5 more, but this is what we’ll do with that $5.”
At the SpringBoard event, Caine will talk about his book, drawing on his experiences as owner of the Raven and from his research on the history of Amazon and “big box” stores. This talk will prove illuminating for anyone interested in reevaluating their own relationship to consumption, and especially to people looking to learn more about the history and economic realities of one stop online shopping, or to kick the Amazon habit for once and for all.
Danny Caine will be introduced by Heather Halak, CMC board member and owner of Third House Books, an independent bookstore in Gainesville. She will discuss the challenges facing independent bookstores in the era of Amazon.
Third House opened in 2016 as founder Kiren Valjee’s response to the loss of other local bookstores and community sites in Gainesville. Current owner Heather has been with the store since 2017, taking ownership in 2018. The store aims to create a space for community building and particularly a “safe space” and home away from home for Gainesville’s marginalized people.
Tickets for SpringBoard are by donation, with a suggested donation of $5-$10 this year. You can donate and register via Eventbrite at tinyurl.com/Iguana1187, or find more information on our facebook page, facebook.com/civicmediacenter. You can buy Caine’s book at Third House Books on their website: thirdhousebooks.com.