We Make Zines

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Why are Many in Zine Community Boycotting Microcosm Publishing and Joe Biel?

I am going to post a link, but I want to include an intro and the text of this initial link below. The Dinner and Bikes Tour was an event that would have involved a number of people in the wider zine community, which somewhat explains it's relevance to We Make Zines, but it's the behind the scenes story that really involves the zine community.

Once you read the content of the link below, you can get more information through the links in that note about Joe Biel, Microcosm Publishing, a history of abuse and poor accountability, and why many people in the zine community are boycotting Microcosm Publishing and events involving Joe Biel. Maybe you've heard something about this. Maybe not. In any case, if you go to link on Facebook that I'm posting (or read the text below), you can read about the latest situation that is being discussed in the zine community, mainly because it brings up the issues with Joe Biel and Microcosm, putting them on the table for discussion again--if they ever went away. And they shouldn't have ever gone away. In a DIY community, we need to DIY in terms of reading up on things happening in our own community. Otherwise, how will we have the courage to get involved in the greater communities in which we all take part?

So, I urge you to read up. Read the content at the link I am posting, and visit some of the links listed in the Facebook note for some of the back story. Be informed. Make your own choices. Take your own stand. Ideally, spread the word that we're not really into abusive folks having an influential role in the community unless it's influencing others by demonstrating their own efforts to be accountable for their actions. That's not the case here. 

Here is the text you will find if you go to the Facebook link regarding the organization, and then cancellation, of the Dinner and Bikes Tour. First the link: Click Here. And now the text, if you'd like to read it here, though I encourage you to read the comments on the Facebook page itself. The text:

Emails with Elly

by Jaimie Oller on Thursday, 29 September 2011 at 13:34


many folks have asked to see the emails between Elly and I reguarding the Dinner and Bikes tour. I've pasted them below and not edited them.  feel free to share these emails with others who may be organizing this tour or working with Joe or Elly in any other context. Thanks for all the love and support friends! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions/ideas!!


Aug 10th:


Hi my name is Jaimie Oller and I got your email address from Cait Giddings in a post from Ailecia Ruskin about wanting to bring your bike show through Lawrence, KS in Sept. I'd love to help set this up and was just looking for more information and the exact dates you were coming through town. 

thanks so much!


In Good Health,



Devoted to creating a world where every child has the chance to meet their full potential. Liddlekidz.org


Hey Jamie,

Thanks for writing! We'd love to do a Dinner & Bikes event in Lawrence, if possible. We'd be there on September 22nd, and would want to do the event from 7-9. Basically, our chef serves up a fancy vegan meal for the number of people we expect, then I give a presentation about bikes and the economy, Joe shows a bunch of super short (3 minute) movies about bike culture, and that's that.


What we need to make it happen: A darkenable-ish place with a screen or wall to project movies on (we have a projector -- and a sheet we can hang up if necessary. A place for the chef to cook -- doesn't have to be a fancy kitchen, either someone's house works or a sink & table & place to plug in his hot plate; and a guarantee to cover food, gas, etc in case only like 4 people show up and three of them forgot their wallet (it's happened). We usually ask for $150, and organizers usually find a sponsor (local bike shop, the library, the city) to cover it if they're worried about attendance. 


Lots more at our website: http://ramblingroadshow.com




503 810 9443



Sounds awesome! I think that $150 is totally possible in Lawrence and I know a space that has a kitchen and a screen! let's go ahead and set this up! and I'll make the space reservations tomorrow. if there's anything that needs to change, feel free to email me or FB  me (Jaimie Oller). I'll touch base again in Sept just to make sure everything is a go!

thanks so much! this sounds awesome!


In Good Health,




Perfect! Wow. Thanks a ton. Let me know venue details and I'll put them up on the website and on the fb page I just made. If you want to rsvp there, I'll make you an admin and you can switch up whatever you like: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=242560475778628


Likewise, if you need anything let me know. 


Thanks again! I'm excited to go to Lawrence!



Also, what's your address? I'll send posters.



****Cancellation Message sent to Facebook Event list****

after doing the groundwork to get this event going, it came to my attention that one of the touring members, joe biel, has a long history of behaving in abusive & manipulative ways with women. he has failed mediation & three community accountability processes. i do not feel comfortable inviting such a person into our community to discuss feminism or other elements of radical activism. it’s my belief that such behaviors, particularly when coupled with a lack of accountability, help to create a culture in which survivors of abuse & misogyny are expected to take a backseat–that these issues are considered ‘personal’ & therefore irrelevant. the fact that joe’s tourmates would choose to overlook this history & bring him into communities across the country without being transparent about joe’s actions & lack of accountability calls their judgment into question as well. i don’t want to live in a community that looks the other way when it comes to abuse & misogyny, & i hope that you don’t either, so i have decided to cancel this event.


if you are interested in learning more about joe’s long history of abuse & failed accountability, here are some links:







For more information on radical community responses to abuse & misogyny, here are some links:









Sept 12th:


I wanted to let you know that after I agreed to organize this event I was made aware of Joe's history and his failed attempts at community accountability. I really don't feel comfortable bringing someone with his history into my community to discuss feminism or any other radical projects while ignoring his lack of accountability, and therefore I must cancel this event. 


--  In Good Health,



Devoted to creating a world where every child has the chance to meet their full potential. Liddlekidz.org


Sept. 13th:


I'm floored. And stunned. That about sums it up.

It sounds like you've made up your mind. So I've crossed that one off and we'll work out something else for that day.

Best wishes to you.



Sept. 25th:




Please consider this email a formal request for a retraction of your defamatory statements about Joe Biel, Microcosm Publishing, and the Dinner & Bikes Tour. 


Also attached is an invoice. We had agreed to a $150 guarantee for our event in Lawrence. But because for such an event we would expect to make at bare minimum $300, and because the cancellation was not in good faith, I am attaching an invoice for the larger amount. Payment is due immediately.


Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I hope that we do not have to take this to the next level.




Sept. 28th:



I want to let you know that you have no right to send such an email to me. I in no way agreed to pay you and you, yourself cancelled the public invite to the event and then replaced that night with another event in Kansas City. Legally speaking, you have no legs to stand on and I suggest that you act more carefully in the future before threatening legal action towards strangers. 


In regards to Joe, Microcosm and your Tour: I will not be taking my statements back and if anything, will be making this threatening email public to allow others to see the bullying tactics you also use.  Nothing I stated is unfounded and all of it can be proven.  My suggestion is if you want folks to stop pointing out how fucked up Joe's behavior has been in the past, maybe you should encourage him to work towards fixing it.  


I will be disregarding your letter and demand for payment, as well as letting all other radical organizers in Lawrence and surrounding areas to no longer support Microcosm or any other projects that Joe or yourself may be involved in. 


Sept. 29th:


I absolutely encourage you to publish our correspondence. Sunlight is an excellent disinfectant.



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Comment by James N. Dawson on October 14, 2011 at 2:52pm

Joe friended me here & on Facebook & I have no intention of unfriending him.  I don't really know either Alex or Joe personally, just via the Web, and have no desire to sort through their dirty laundry.  I'm sure this has been said before.

Ayn Rand used put members of her inner circle on trial for deviating from her ideology.  Some were so submissive they actually attended when they were "summoned".  Sounds a bit like your "mediations" and "community accountability processes". It smacks of a witch trial to me.

Who else would be subject to this kind of scrutiny?  I'm not even sure if I "belong" to the "zine community" or the "DIY community"---not that I yearn to or anything----so I guess I'm immune.  Not a big enough fish to fry I suppose.

If I were to peer into the bedroom of all the people I trade and interact with, I'm sure I'd find them wanting somehow in some principle I try to follow.  Shunning and boycotting everybody who doesn't meet my standards of perfection would get a little inconvenient.  I don't think most of us could afford to be as narrow and judgemental as the Boycott Joe Biel Crusade.  The distastefulness of it aside, it'd get mighty complicated and inconvenient, if we aimed for any kind of consistency.

No.  No boycotts for me.  I'm much more comfortable down here with the sinners.


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