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Thoughts on the new Microcosm Publishing statement?

http://microcosmpublishing.com/blogifesto/2011/06/a-statement-from-...

 

Personally, I think it's too little too late. Most of the comments are right on and bring up some really good points. 

 

Thoughts?

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apparently Microcosm didn't like what people were saying, so they deleted all the comments. Luckily I saved them all:

Comments
 Derek Neuland 0 seconds agoNot true regGreg, if Microcosm had addressed and cleared a lot of this up ages ago when they were first confronted about this, I personally would feel better about them. But sadly, they continually disregard the thoughts and requests of the people they have wronged and have used tricky wording in their statements in order to save face.


 Doug Taylor 2 minutes agoI don't think I know Jessie or Adam, but Rio, I truly feel for you. Matt, too. I know that you walked on stage in the middle of something and had no idea what was going on. I know that you have tried your best with what you were dealt and tried to move forward. But there's a reason I haven't gone to your store.I just can't.Have you ever been hated? Have you ever hated? I don't hate you, and I don't hate Joe. Hating is something that takes too much of a person, and I don't recommend it.Instead, I just try to understand how I feel, and I think that your well intentioned message is music to my ears.... four or five years ago. I do not know what has prompted this message, but I think of the trail of wreckage, and I can't help but think that the end has come already.It reminds me of a country western song where the guy comes back, hat in hand, freshly shaved and sober, pleading to a second story window: "I've changed, darling! It's the real me! I'm back!"A woman's voice shouts back: "Back again? Well just a minute......" the shutters open and two boots come flying down, nearly hitting him in his head."You'll need those to put the miles between us so sorely deserved. I've changed, too, for I'm not the kind of girl that let's the wolf back in. Now, GIT."If it's truly quitting time at Microcosm, I suggest getting a new job as well, or maybe going back to school. I hear college is nice this time of year, maybe even better in the fall with all the leaves changing color. Can't speak for Bloomington, but you can just about live on financial aid in Oregon if you're thrifty. Even more financial aid is available for individuals over 24.There is so much I don't understand about these Microcosm communiques. Each one posted leaves me with fifty questions, or feeling even more confused than before. I don't understand waiting until two days before Cindy's deadline to post something on anarchist news, let alone ANYTHING important on that site. Why feed internet trolls food they have never tasted before? Why not here instead? People obviously read this site.I am curious about what happens in the background that nobody knows except for the people that don't want it revealed. I am weary of the very thought of dealing with people, such as Rasmussen, as mediators that survivors have already declined to work with. I am irritated that the problem is still bracketed with "accused" instead of "acknowledged" or "identified". Even "self-professed" would be better.I try to help when I can, and it is very difficult. Sometimes I feel like I have done a poor job. Other times, I feel like I tried to put out a forest fire with a squirt gun. This thing hasn't really died, but life has got along well enough with really having to deal with "Microcosm Madness" all the time.Alex has been a true friend to me, and I would be remiss if I couldn't try to match that. I guess it is one thing to stick up for your friend, but it is something else entirely if your friend makes you constantly have to apologize for their behavior, or "almost" apologize, which is even worse. Think about that.--- Doug Taylor


 regGreg 12 minutes agoWho did Rio, Jessie, Adam, and the various authors, volunteers, etc. abuse?Think of how much more you could actually be helping victims of abuse (both in and out of your 'radical' circle), if this energy was direct to that goal instead of pushing forward a trial-by-mob on a zine distro and publisher based on it's (previous?) relationship to an asshole.It's too little too late for many of you because there was never enough that could be done in the first place. If that's the case you're not here to build or better anything anyway. You're here to help strangle the last bits of life from a project intended to push and grow a medium you purport to love. If it isn't then maybe you should stick around to help microcosm be better than it could be otherwise.Sounds like Rio, Jessie, and Adam are trying to put out their hand and it's being filled with spit out of practice and stubbornness.
 ManDuh 1 hour agoThis is the most victim-blaming bullshit I've read in a long time, especially the fourth paragraph. Doesn't sound like anyone in Microcosm wants to take responsibility for anything they've done. I knew there was a reason I stopped doing business with this organization.


 Nate. 1 hour ago"This whole situation from beginning to end is the perfect example of what happens when people of positions of power and privilege in the radical community are left in those positions and aren't challenged because people refuse to support each other."Or because they are scared of losing their jobs.Whateve, Sparky is my homie and it really infuriated me to watch her struggle with this from the outside, and see a collective that actively promotes(!) confronting abuse WITHIN THE SCENE (or whatever) get railroaded by ONE SHITTY DUDE! Who did the EXACT same thing in another city with a different person!You guys are fucking politicans man, you can't trust anything you say.Gimmie my zines back, you people are ridiculous.I honestly wanna see this collective go down. I mean the least people can do is not support this kind of hypocrisy. They had a MILLION chances to do it right, and they didnt even come close. They didnt even try! I think if this whole shitshow went public, anybody would be shocked and enraged at how poorly this whole process went.I say boycott, this issue hasn't been taken seriously at all."the collective believes that ostracizing someone isn't a healthy, restorative response, and we've struggled with accountability being more than a radical judge-and-jury trial."^Wow i wonder how the victims who got booted from this collective feel. Ostracized? Whatever, this statement is fucking WEAK.I dont think theres anything left to say except BOYCOTT MICROCOSM.Love the rest of yall. Thats it.


 microcosm 2 hours agoAs a member of Microcosm for 4 years and a former partner of Joe Biel, I am sad to say that I no longer support Microcosm Publishing. I cannot support a group of people who so adamantly claim to oppose abuse, but in practice have let it continue for years. This abuse was perpetrated against me, and I have remained largely silent in hopes that Microcosm could be salvaged. I no longer believe this is possible.With much love and thankfulness to all my wonderful zine friends that I've kept or made along the way,-Sparky Taylor


 Derek Neuland 2 hours ago"organizational refounding" sounds like "let's try to dig ourselves out of the hole we're in"


 pollyvomit 2 hours agoI am really glad y'all have decided to work on this FINALLY and release a statement but this for something that has been going on for years that a lot of microcosm employees witnessed first hand, it really took y'all 5 years to work on your shit?As someone who has worked in collectives for years, there is usually a understanding in the radical community and resources readily available (that even MICROCOSM HAS PUBLISHED) that talk about how to support survivors, and deal with the topics of transformative justice, accountability, anti oppression work, patriarchy, abuse, etc.I know it's not easy especially when people are involved in the same collectives/projects. but it NEEDS to be done, when abuse is happening IT IS ALL OF OUR JOBS AS COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO HELP STOP THE CYCLE AND SUPPORT SURVIVORS AND HELP AGGRESSORS CHANGE.This whole situation from beginning to end is the perfect example of what happens when people of positions of power and privilege in the radical community are left in those positions and aren't challenged because people refuse to support each other.as a business that engages in the selling of radical leaning goods you have to practice what you preach, this just makes you look really bad and untrustworthy, like you're just in it for the money.also "As abuse creates cycles of hurt, it's been easier for those involved to put up a wall for personal protection rather than create resources for healing" this sounds like victim blaming, while it's up to survivors to state their needs and boundaries around the healing process you should respect their level of involvement. you can't expect survivors to orchestrate an accountability process, such as you can't expect a nonwhite person to teach a white person about anti racism, its not their fucking job. also using the word "accusing" makes it seem like you don't believe that joe has committed abuse, its just in bad form.but i wish y'all luck in what you do and hope that the collective thrives. if you need help with the collective side of things there is the US Federation of Worker Co-operatives. there are also resources in and around portland.


 alexwrekk 2 hours agoI also find it ridiculously hilarious that my tattoo shows up next to my name when I post. So, I think I'll do it again.


 alexwrekk 2 hours agoSo, are there only 3 "collective" members now?So, is this the public statement or is the one posted here:http://anarchistnews.org/?q=node%2F13086 at the very end of last year? Is that one also valid? And why was it posted on that site?Too little too late, indeed.


 punctual 2 hours agoDear Rio, Jessie, & Adam,I don't really understand why you can't let Joe do some apologizing rather than letting him use your words as a scapegoat for those he should TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for.You should expect to try to bandage some wounds, and you shouldn't have to shoulder an apology on someone's behalf (which equates to just the same amount of cowardice).... 

 

Derek Neuland 3 hours agoxThe term "too little too late" comes to mind. Also, if you're all for transparency, why is there no mention of the fact that Joe Biel is still an employee at Microcosm.Also, stop using the chainring heart design!

I was hoping that someone captured the comments before they were taken down.   Thanks Derek!!
If it's a little too late, do you think any other distro or collective is ready to step up and take their place? I love that there are tons of smaller/DIY zine distros out there to keep the zine community alive, I did one myself for many years. But I really feel for zines to thrive there needs to be a few bigger distros and publishers with great distribution networks. There was a time when we could turn to one or two zine distributors to get our zines into record stores, book stores and zine stores throughout the States (or in the case of Clint at Tower, throughout the world). While about every big distro has failed, usually another has popped up to take it's place. Microcosm has been that distro for many years, if they fail because of this, who's ready to step in a run a big distro full time?
Too little, too late, too bad. My thoughts are still the same as expressed above.

Also: Taking down the comments was a super bunk idea. "we want to be transparent...." PSYCH! Thanks for the save, D.

I don't understand the policies over there at all. Why is it okay to post on Anarchist news, but not okay to have a comments section on your own website?

Also, I agree: kill the chainring logo, already. Surely you can come up with something that is not a wedding tattoo from a failed marriage. Why would you even PLAY with that bad mojo?

*sigh*.....

Microcosm.... Yup.

From a business standpoint though, it's smart not to have comments on your businesses website, especially ones that will generate controversy or speak badly of your business. They should have been smarter and not allowed comments in the first place, who allows comments to a public statement or press release? Any business that posts comments or has forums moderates comments, they should have at least had the foresight to do that. They set themselves up for criticism by first allowing comments and then for more criticism when they took them down, not very savvy on their part.


Dan -  If that is what people want then they have to show it.   Why do you think that I posted the thread about distros?  I know that I am not getting anywhere near enough business to even consider it worthwile to be a wholesaler.   I have to admit that I am not much interested in that aspect though. 

 

If people want more choices then they need to act upon that and support those of us who are out there being the other choice!


Dan 10things said:

If it's a little too late, do you think any other distro or collective is ready to step up and take their place? I love that there are tons of smaller/DIY zine distros out there to keep the zine community alive, I did one myself for many years. But I really feel for zines to thrive there needs to be a few bigger distros and publishers with great distribution networks. There was a time when we could turn to one or two zine distributors to get our zines into record stores, book stores and zine stores throughout the States (or in the case of Clint at Tower, throughout the world). While about every big distro has failed, usually another has popped up to take it's place. Microcosm has been that distro for many years, if they fail because of this, who's ready to step in a run a big distro full time?
Yeah, I read your post about distros just after responding, doh. I think the distro issue may be a major one about to face the zine community that could really be critical to it's long term survival. It sounds like smaller distros are not getting orders. And with the drama surrounding Microcosm, they too may fail (although I'm not sure how much of the controversy reaches the majority of their customers). Where will that leave things?
I love Microcosm, I like the stuff they put out and I think they are definitely a big supporter of small publishing. I don't really care about some drama that happened in someone else's bad relationship a long time ago. Sometimes relationships are unhealthy, you get treated like crap, you treat the other person like crap. You break up, move on and meet somebody else.  There is something I do care about... READING ZINES.  I love reading zines and Microcosm puts out a lot of cool shit. So to all the people that are causing drama-get a life!
So all is forgiven if you sell appropriately; how many published anthologies per indulgence? I just don't buy it, dude.

 

Sure, Microcosm allowing comments on the post in the first place may have been problematic. It is also the easiest way to, you know, be transparent and"open the conversation" as they expressed in the statement. They may be a business but a bulk of that business is selling to people with radical politics who should expect them to walk the walk. With that being said, I have several issues with the victim blaming excuse letter starting with the first sentence using the term "accusing" really? They say they don't want a judge and jury trial, but that's the language they are using. I find it an interesting phrasing that they say they care that the abuse was "named" and noticed that they never actually acknowledge that our (Sparky and my) experiences are/were valid or that, yes, Joe has issue with abuse and manipulation. Actually, in the letter posted last December, they did acknowledge that. Why not restate that?

As a survivor of emotional abuse, I am offended by this statement:

As abuse creates cycles of hurt, it's been easier for those involved to put up a wall for personal protection rather than create resources for healing.

Really? After all I have gone through it is somehow my job to create a resource for healing for other people? Oh, I'm sorry, I was too busy working on shaking off the ghosts of abuse,  building back my self worth and learning to form healthy relationships again. I didn't know that I somehow had more of a responsibility.

As for Joe stepping down, I don't buy it. I'm sorry,I just don't. Someone I know e-mailed Microcosm to ask about it. He's not really leaving, he's just not a voting collective member. I'll bet that means he still has his hands in just about everything he does now but they are trying to paint a pretty picture, aren't they? and I see "Non-Adherence Policy" is just like saying "We don't really care. We don't think this is important. We don't have the time but we have this really corporate sounding term to hide behind even though we distribute lots and lots of things that express that we really do care about radical politics, feminism, and supporting survivors of abuse."

Something else that concerns me is that there are only 3 people who signed the letter. Isn't the collective supposed to be 6 or 7 people? Where are the other members? Did they quit? Where they fired? It seems really suspicious to me.

The weird paragraph about partners of Joe being talented and creative was really awkward for me to read. The other partner they are referring to is Sparky. When I was in Chicago for the zine fest I met Sparky and we had a lengthy conversation about the situation. She expressed hope in the re-founding and so I kept quiet with criticism to wait and see what came out the other side. But with her statement:

As a member of Microcosm for 4 years and a former partner of Joe Biel, I am sad to say that I no longer support Microcosm Publishing. I cannot support a group of people who so adamantly claim to oppose abuse, but in practice have let it continue for years. This abuse was perpetrated against me, and I have remained largely silent in hopes that Microcosm could be salvaged. I no longer believe this is possible.With much love and thankfulness to all my wonderful zine friends that I’ve kept or made along the way,

-Sparky Taylor

Her name is obviously not signed to the statement Microcosm released  and she clearly doesn't work for Microcosm any more. She said she didn't know how the other statement got onto Anarchistnews and she had fought to make a public statement something with substance that would show true effort at change. What made me most sad was hearing her experiences of emotional abuse that so mirrored mine as a partner of Joe and as a Microcosm worker and how easily it starts and how hard it is to stop.

Sparky and I were talking again and she wanted to know how to get the word out about her feelings about her experience with Microcosm. I offered her my support and to post her comment. Sparky is a smart, talented and creative woman and I wish her the best in whatever direction she goes from here. She and I both know that the only way is up.

Overall, the Microcosm statement isn't worded how humans talk to each other. It is so intricately crafted as to say absolutely nothing of substance yet hits at hiding things. I wish I could say I wish them the best, but I no longer have any sympathy.
I think Buddy's opinion, and it's one I've heard from a lot of zinesters, is they don't see how the relationship drama has anything to do with the business/zine distro, especially with a bunch of other people running Microcosm now. Many (most?) zinesters don't get heavily involved in forums, relationship drama, feuds, etc., they just publish their zines and look for a quick and reliable zine distros to buy from and sell to. It's been fascinating to watch so many intimate details of people's private lives and relationships get spilled in a large public forum and argued about by a bunch of people who were never involved with it however. It reminds me a little of the Sky Ryan vs. Debbie Goad vs. Jim Goad drama on alt.zines, only so much more detailed. I understand how the drama is important and relevant to the people involved, but most of us are just bystanders rubbernecking a car crash seeing how it all plays out.

DruglessxF said:
So all is forgiven if you sell appropriately; how many published anthologies per indulgence? I just don't buy it, dude.
You know, I think that makes a lot of sense, Dan. I guess I feel frustrated by efforts to raise awareness of dodgy dealings, and become treated as if I created the problem. "Kill the messenger", right? I will try to maintain patience with Buddy's opinion, but it is one I encounter all too often; not only in zines, but all over. The squeaky hinge gets the grease, but the tall nail is pounded down.

All I really want is for my friends to feel safe and for organizations to hold fast to their creed. I know that's asking for a lt more than a $2-3 ppd zine, but I didn't get into this thing to give up. I have always believed that it is what we do matters, above all elese; it is perhaps the last shred of idealism left, but still the most important part.

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