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Hello Libertarians, Vegans, Vegetarians, and Zinesters!

In a message to two libertarian forums several years ago, I lamented
the absence of libertarian outreach papers, a.k.a. "freebies":

http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/lpradicals /message/ 2178

Finally, I decided I better put my time and money where my mouth was
and produce my own. I just finished it a week or so ago.

It's just 4 pages (one double-sided 11 x 17 sheet, folded in half),
and I've only made 200 copies. I've left 10 off at the local college,
and about 15 each at laundromats in Cheney and Spokane respectively.
It doesn't look like anybody's touched them in about the week they've
been there, but I haven't actually counted. I'm too much of a coward
to ask any place else if I can leave copies there, because I'm afraid
it may be too "unconventional" for them. My main targets will be
laundromats and college campuses, either on tables or in large
envelopes/folders tacked onto bulletin boards. I hope to distribute
these sporadically throughout Whitman and Spokane Counties and other
nearby areas in Eastern Washington and Idaho. I'm also considering co-
publishing the next issue in the "Big Mail". At 22 cents a copy for
these I've already made, I only hope a few people will read them---and
appreciate them.

The title is ALTERNATIVE ADS, CONTACTS & OPINION. The facing and
second page are all "contacts" and/or "found ads" which largely
reflect my beliefs, values and interests as an animal-rights
libertarian and papernetter (the "Papernet", for the unitiated,
includes "snail mail", zines, paper-publications, etc., transport via
the US Postal Service). Here's what it said inside a box underneath
the title, issue number and date:

"Ad Rates: $1 for the first 60 words or less, and 10 cents per word
thereafter. We are generally open to all ads and encourage ads for
unusual and little-known movements and ideas, but on ethical and
aesthetic grounds we must draw a line somewhere, and reserve the right
to refuse any ad we deem unacceptable. Some or all of the
advertisements or contacts herein are found, which we have included
because we thought they were interesting or just caught our eye. If
paying in check or money order, please e-mail or write first. If
paying in cash or stamps, there is no need. Frequency: Roughly
quarterly. Circulation: 200."

What I am trying to do, as the title I hope makes plain, is offer a
local adsheet, of which there are several in my area already, in which
residents with "alternative" views and interests feel comfortable
advertising, and also just putting something out in "the public
square" a little more interesting than what's now available.

I have to admit that I'm not an out-going or gregarious person, and
I'm nervous about ruffling local-cultural feathers, but I've long felt
that there's a need for this, especially in smaller communities where
there's little for the individual of unconventional values---the
"oddball". I'd rather that somebody else took up the task and the
risks involved, but it seemed nobody wanted to do that, so milquetoast
though I am, I felt I had to.

Back in the late eighties through maybe the mid-nineties, in Mendocino
County, California, a Marco MacLean used to do an alternative weekly
freebie called Mendocino Commentary, that was chock full of ads,
articles, rants, poetry and letters to the editor, bitterly and
bluntly complaining about and critiquing the local police, business
owners, and what all. It was a very grassroots-call- em-as-you- see-em-
eye-view of the local scene. He must have been a smooth talker,
because it seemed to have been widely distributed, even in places I
would have thought would have rejected it for its radical,
iconoclastic content. Sadly, at some point, he sold it. It took on a
very "lite, breezy, yuppie" tone and appearance, and it soon just
faded away.

This is my own poor attempt to revive the free alternative newspaper
that Mendocino Commentary exemplified, in an area that has absolutely
none. (Again, there are a few local freebies, and they're sort of
left-leaning, but otherwise quite safe and conventional) .

I don't aim to shock with this paper, just to introduce some new ideas
with ads and editorials. I'm keeping this ad/editorial sheet seperate
from my zine adsheet, which I have freer reign with as to what I'll
include. I'm more cautious with this one, just to let you zinesters
who might be considering advertising know. One of my main purposes is
to put my own 2 cents worth in toward libertarian education and
outreach. Pages 2 and 3, which I've innocuously dubbed "The Back
Pages", under a column I'm calling "Libertarian Resistance", I include
an explanation of my philosophy and purpose, and two articles on
libertarian healthcare from authors I've "borrowed" from and
credited. (The word needs to get out).

It may turn out that the Internetters are right, that nobody in my
area will care about my efforts, that everything worth reading or
looking at is already on the all-giving Internet. That there's too
much apathy, or even worse, too much hostility toward my little
paper. If this is the case, I may well abandon the project, are at
least, re-organize it. I may just circulate it mainly in the "Big
Mail" with only a few copies here and there in "the public square".
But I have to get it out of my system.

I did not use my USPS P.O. Box for this paper. I rented a private
one, at $21 for 3 months. (I wish getting a mail box weren't so
fraught with regulation and restrictions, were simpler and more
straightforward. I had to produce several legal documents and sign
several intimidating papers). I rented this seperate box to shield my
identity a little, as I'm not sure what the local reaction to my paper
might be. I also got a seperate e-mail address for it.

Anway, we'll see how it goes.

If you want to place an ad or have any comments or questions, write or
e-mail me at the address below. If you want a sample issue, just to
see what it looks like and says, send me a SASE. If you do, feel free
to duplicate and distribute it in part or in whole.

ALTERNATIVE ADS
PMB 963
1921 First Street
Cheney, WA 99004
aaco58@gmail. com

Any advice---or horror stories---from anybody who's done their own
local freebie would also be welcome. Please feel free to crosspost,
forward or otherwise share this with others you think may be
interested.

Thanks.
James N. Dawson

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Replies to This Discussion

This sounds like a great idea, I really hope it works out!
Hi, James--just wanted to chime in saying this sounds great. I can relate to a lot of what you say and wish you all the best.
Thanks laura & incurable.

Clementine,

Actually I want to make this look as much like a regular local freebie or ad sheet as possible so I don't scare off potential carriers. Of course I want to make it look a little interesting but not in your face and threatening. I still don't quite know what the social and political climate is here, since I've only been here since May 1. I think the title is sufficient to give potential readers/advertisers an idea of what it's about.

If it succeeds at all, it'd be a broadbased "alternative" newspaper.

I do an ocassional ad sheet called JND Ads & Contacts that's directed more toward the zine community that I'm a little freer with. Actually, I like the look of the old ad sheets I grew up with their "professional" veneer. Outwardly they're not super "underground" looking, but there's often a sense that interesting things lurk inside, because I've found them over the years myself.

It doesn't seem like anybody's picking up any anyway, so I don't have very high expectations for it. I'll give it 4 issues & a year.

hey, just wondering what size P.O. box do u recommend or do u just go by price?

At both my USPS POB and my private mail box I used the smallest size available---"personal" as opposed to "business".  At my PMB, for my local freebie, I get such a trickle it doesn't matter, but I've never found any disadvantage in having a small box.  9 x 12 envelopes containing zines, standard-size magazines, etc. are just "soft folded" to fit and if you get something like a CD, DVD or videotape, or book, you get a yellow card to give to the clerk and they give it to you.  I guess if you had a thriving mail-order business, or a really heavy mail flow, maybe having a larger box would be an issue.

My USPS box is free, because there's no street delivery in my town.  I just paid for my PMB and it was $39 for 6 months.  It's $21 for 3, and $66 for 12.  I'm paying a little less than $7 a month, which doesn't seem that much to me, considering all the other discretionary spending I do with my "fun money". 

Anna Xenophon said:

hey, just wondering what size P.O. box do u recommend or do u just go by price?

good to see you still trying new things James... thats all you can do really, give it a shot and see what happens... hope all is well on the zine front as well... ive been incredibly slack on that front though the ideas are still all in my head and on little bits of paper! 

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