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The Business of Books
David Barsamian interview Andre Schiffrin
A ndre Schiffrin was managing director at Pantheon for 30 years. He’s now director of The New Press. He contributes a regular column on publishing to the Chronicle on Higher Education . He’s the author of The Business of Books: How International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read , published by Verso. Studs Terkel calls him “the dean of intelligent independent publishing.”
DAVID BARSAMIAN: In 1983, Ben Bagdikian wrote The Media Monopoly, published by Beacon, an independent press in Boston. He traced the concentration of corporate media at that time and he said there were about 50 corporations that controlled most of the media in the United States. In subsequent editions that 50 became 28, 23, 14, 10, and in the latest edition it’s down to 6. What are the implications of that kind of concentration?
ANDRE SCHIFFRIN: It shows that you need to revise your books often. It’s not simply a question of how concentrated the ownership is, but who are the owners. Obviously, only a few firms control most of publishing and the top five control 80 percent of American publishing in terms of sales. They are all parts of international media conglomerates for whom publishing is an ancillary activity, with the exception of Bertelsmann, for whom it’s a principal one. So that if it was Harvard University Press and the University of California and so on who controlled most of American publishing, it would be somewhat different.
These large conglomerates also own film, television, radio, magazines, and newspapers. The profit margins for most of those are much, much higher than they are for publishing. You can make 20 to 30 percent in newspaper publishing per year. There are radio stations that are supposed to make 40 or 50 percent or even more each year, while publishing traditionally only makes 3 or 4 percent. That is publishing over the whole of the 20th century and over the range of large and small companies.
You mentioned Bertelsmann, the German-based conglomerate. The others are AOL-Time Warner, Vivendi, Disney, Viacom, which publishes Simon & Schuster, and News Corporation, which publishes HarperCollins. You write that books differ in crucial ways from other media. Beyond advertising, what are some of the other ways? There are no ads in books per se.
Of course, that’s one of the reasons why they’re so much less profitable. Even if you could put ads in books—and people have tried to do that—the audience is too small in most cases for it to be worthwhile. The whole point about book publishing over the years is that it was relatively artisanal rather than industrial; that is to say, you didn’t need a lot of money, you could do it with just a handful of people. When the New Press started, over a decade ago, there were five of us and we had a bestseller with our very first book. So you don’t have to be huge to be successful. The advantage of having a small setup, obviously, is that you can take risks—you don’t have to have large shareholders who are demanding more and more money—and with a relatively small amount of money, as little as $20,000, you can publish a book nationally, and indeed internationally, and say things that the mass media obviously won’t be interested in trying out.
Talk about the structural, as well as the historical, tension of putting out what is called “worthwhile” books and making money. Isn’t there always going to be a problem there?
There is, and that’s what publishing used to acknowledge as the basic problem in publishing. Everyone talked about the cathedral and the bank and how a publisher had to be able to go to each of those at least once a week and see what they could do. The feeling used to be that the more popular, commercial books would pay for the more difficult books. Of course, you never knew in time what would end up being profitable. A lot of the big books nowadays that are supposedly going to be very profitable turn out to be huge losers. When you look at the first printings on Brecht and Kafka, which were 600 and 800 copies, both of those have turned out to be pretty successful in the long run. But we mustn’t assume that good books are always successful commercially. Very often they’re not. That’s part of what should have been the feeling of publishing responsibility.
You just mentioned Brecht and Kafka. There is also the issue of experimentation and discovery. In your book you cite Klaus Wagenbach, a German publisher, who says that if books with small print runs disappear, the future will die.
Wagenbach, by the way, is the leading biographer of Kafka, so he knows whereof he speaks. But also, Wagenbach has said not just the future, but democracy will die. That’s, of course, an important aspect of all of this, that you need to have dissenting voices. You need to have people, either artistically, aesthetically, or politically, who are going to do something that isn’t automatically a bestseller. Not that television and newspapers and so on couldn’t play that role, but on the whole they don’t. They already have to assume that they’re going to get a mass audience for whatever it is they do. Publishers could afford to take the risk and the small publishers still do.
If you look at the last year of the Bush administration, none of the major houses have published books critical of what’s going on. They’ve published books like Bob Woodward’s, which are propaganda for the Administration deliberately. All the books that are critical are coming from small, independent presses.
That’s Bob Woodward’s Bush at War, published by Simon & Schuster. There is the interesting case of Michael Moore’s book, Stupid White Men, which has been the New York Times bestseller, published by HarperCollins owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. They tried to prevent the publication of that book after 9/11 and asked Moore to rewrite major sections of it that were critical of the Bush administration, saying, “This is not patriotic, We are at war,” etc. He refused to do that.
What’s curious now is that we know that there is a very substantial audience for books that are critical. The little pamphlet by Chomsky, 9-11 , published by Seven Stories, has sold over a quarter of a million copies. Our 400-page collection of Chomsky’s lectures, Understanding Power , has sold over 50,000 copies without receiving a single review anywhere.
There are other books as well that have slipped through the cracks and are selling. For example, Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast have all appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. There are almost parallel universes here.
There is no question that there is and always has been a large audience for books left of center as well as right of center. We know right-wing books sell very well, because often they’re bought in bulk—Ann Coulter and people like that. What’s interesting is that the media, the so-called liberal media, on the whole are not giving as much time to the books that are critical. Barbara Ehrenreich has always done very well. She’s a well-established name and a marvelous writer. Her book has now sold half a million in paperback, which is a remarkable number. So clearly people are concerned about the social issues that were there before Bush. They’re concerned about the war.
You mentioned that some of these right-wing publishers buy up a huge number of copies of these books and drive them onto the bestseller list, creating a kind of buzz. Then the authors appear on all the talk shows.
I’m not saying the publishers buy the books. But there are lots of organizations that are willing to do that for them. So the books can become bestsellers. If you take Michael Savage, he has been offered a major slot on MSNBC, sponsored by Microsoft and GE. I was surprised at that because large corporations, on the whole, try not to back controversial stuff. They think people may get angry with them if they’re identified with one of these two poles. The fact that these two firms have decided to back this outrageously racist, person is a curious development.
How crucial is it for independent publishers to get on, for example, NPR’s Terry Gross show, “Fresh Air” or the Diane Rehm show or some of the commercial programs on television, on Fox and CNN, and get the authors some visibility?
It’s very important. Terry Gross is known as being the most effective way of selling books. Our salespeople say it’s better than a front page of the New York Times .
Is it better than “Oprah?”
Nothing is better than “Oprah.” If you have a book coming out and you can’t get it on the major media and you have trouble getting it into the newspapers, it’s going to be very hard for people to know that it’s there. What is remarkable is that all the books we’ve published in the last few months that were very critical of what Bush was doing—whether it was David Cole’s Terrorism and the Constitution , which is a very good book on Ashcroft, or Gabriel Kolko’s Another Century of Wa r, which is a critique of our foreign policy, or Lewis Lapham’s book Theater of War —they have all been reprinted within a few months of publication, in spite of the fact that in the first two cases there were no reviews at all in the U.S.
Medium and small publishers publish serious books, but lack the power to produce and really promote them comparable to the larger houses at a level that’s competitive and they lack equal access to the global sales machinery. You have referred to this as a kind of market censorship.
The market censorship is obviously a very complicated process and it’s partly the decision by large houses that they’re not going to take on a book because they don’t think it will sell. By definition, this process is inherently a conservative one. A new idea does not have a track record. When we first published Chomsky’s critique of the Vietnam War at Pantheon, if somebody had looked in their computer to see how many books by Chomsky had sold, they would have said, “Well, his book on linguistics has sold 300 copies. Obviously, we’re not going to take on this book,” which became a major force for disagreement in the Vietnam years.
When I look back at the thousands of books that we published over the 30 years I was at Pantheon, practically none of them would make their way through the decision-making process of a large firm today. Partly because the business people are the ones who increasingly make the decisions, partly because the profit targets are so high, as we’ve seen in the recent kafuffle over Random House, that people won’t take on a book that isn’t going to have a substantial first printing, 15-20,000 copies, whatever, and partly because there is this built-in unwillingness to take any kind of intellectual or political risk.
Who are the editors at these houses that are making the decisions? Are they book people steeped in literature and interested in public affairs or are they bean counters?
Obviously, things are changing. There are still a lot of people who were in publishing who were at Random House when I was there. They are gradually leaving and being replaced by young people who have been taught that the major purpose of their career is to make money. The Random House story that made the New York Times front page, and is still being debated, is a very indicative one, because here was the best known name in American publishing—so well known that Bertelsmann decided to use it for their publishing worldwide—where a list that had some very commercial titles on it was deemed insufficiently profitable. The people who were running it, Ann Godoff and others, were fired and publicly humiliated.
A Chomsky book that had gone out of print, American Power and the New Mandarins , has been reissued. There are other Chomsky books that you’re bringing back, For Reasons of State and Problems of Knowledge and Freedom. That goes to the whole issue of keeping books in print.
This is part of the phenomenon that we’re talking about, which is not only to make a lot of money, because you can make a lot of money from your backlist—invariably in the past that was the way you did make money—but the question of wanting to make a lot of money on every book. When I was at Pantheon, we received a memo saying every book that sold less than 2,000 copies a year should be pulped, as if it had a contagion that would have infected the other books in the warehouse. You can make a perfectly good profit by publishing a book that sells 2,000 a year. In fact, most of the books that are on people’s backlists don’t sell more than that. But the idea was that every book should make as much money as quickly as possible. So the very idea behind publishing, that you could make half of your money each year from the books you had published in the past, has been jeopardized and abandoned by many firms.
A lot of the big commercial houses have been dependent on blockbuster bestsellers with their stable of stars who command millions of dollars in advances. If you’re sucking out that amount of cash and betting on one author, what does that leave in terms of your pool of capital for lesser known or unknown authors?
There is a polarization, but also, most people don’t want the lesser-known author anyway, so that’s not that much of a problem. The problem, in a way, is more the fact that everyone wants the same bestsellers, so everyone is overpaying for them. You can overpay by several million dollars and end up losing money .
But the problem is that this has raised the threshold of what is needed to publish a bestseller to the point where, in many cases, you can practically guarantee that you will lose money on it and that you have to take that out of everything else. In addition, there are the problems of the amount of time being spent on the bestsellers at the expense of the other books. I remember at Random House, at one point before Christmas, noticing that none of our books were being shipped from the warehouse, which is a crucial time of the year to do that. I asked what was going on and they said, “Well, the Nancy Reagan book had just been published and that had priority over everything else.” Nancy Reagan was one of these cases where many millions were paid that were never earned back. Not only had that book lost money in its own right, but it had harmed the sales of practically everything else on the list because of being given this kind of priority. That, in a way, is a symbol of what happens to large houses when all the eggs are put in this one basket.
In 1996 the Telecommunications Act was passed by Congress and signed by an allegedly liberal Democratic, President Clinton. This enabled Murdoch’s News Corporation and others to engineer a tsunami of mergers and takeovers.
Right, though I think it’s too simple to look only at money here. What also matters is support. Murdoch supported Blair, for instance, after having attacked him in the past. In one election the Murdoch press in Britain managed to defeat what looked like a sure win on the part of the Labor Party. The leading paper, the Sun , had as a headline, “It’s Us What Did It.” Murdoch was boasting of the fact that he had beaten Blair. The second time around, Blair had learned his lesson and had conferred with Murdoch as to what his interests were. One of the first things that Blair did in foreign policy when he was elected was to go to Italy to lobby Berlusconi on behalf of Murdoch’s press interests. That may have been the beginning of the happy alliance that they’ve created ever since, where Blair, theoretically a Labor Party leader, has made a very close alliance with the two most right-wing prime ministers in Europe, Berlusconi and Aznar in Spain. I’m not saying Blair did this only to please Murdoch. I’m sure he had other reasons. But the support of Murdoch was essential to winning in England and he knew that.
Silvio Berlusconi is perhaps the first media titan to actually achieve political power.
Berlusconi is the ideal press magnate, a very corrupt and dishonest press magnate, who is able to control the media in Italy as well as the politics. It is a new kind of right-wing government that Orwell thought might be possible in the past, and Hearst as well, but we’ve never seen it in that full flowering.
What role does distribution play in getting books out?
This is all part of the related phenomenon. One of the reasons the situation in America is as bad as it is is that bookstores were conglomerated at the same time as the publishers were. In other countries, for instance, in Germany, two firms, Bertelsmann and Von Holtz- brinck, control two-thirds of the publishing, but the bookstores are still independent. There are no chains.
There are thousands and thousands of independent bookstores that do a very good job of selling books. This is something that no longer exists here. Independent bookstores account for something like 17 percent of the sales each year and each year in recent years that number has diminished. I think it may have now plateaued out and not gone beyond that. But 17 percent is very little. So it means that the chains can decide what books will become bestsellers.
They do this in part by a system of, in effect, organized bribery, which is called co-op advertising. That is, they say to the publishers, if you want the book to be displayed prominently, then you have to pay—usually an extra dollar or so a book. There have been lawsuits about this in the past and in northern California the independent bookstores won the lawsuit. But it means that the larger firms have a great advantage because they have the money to pay this kind of additional discount.
New York is the center of the publishing industry in the United States. Perhaps you can count the number of independent bookstores left in the city on one hand?
In 1945, there were 350. There are now under 30, and most of the independent stores are in museums and institutions. So you have very few stores left. That’s partly because real estate is very expensive in New York, but it’s also because the chains have driven out many of the independent stores that were around for a very long time.
I know the case of Midnight Special, which is on the Santa Monica mall in California. On one side of the mall there is a Barnes & Noble, on the other side there is a Borders. Midnight Special, which has been a very successful, independently-owned bookstore, is being forced to move not just by the pressure of those two stores being in such close proximity, but also rents are going sky high.
That’s been a clear policy on their part. Part of the problem is that we don’t have any countermeasures. In France, the independent publishers have created a small foundation to help small bookstores survive. In the U.S., the very place where small bookstores should be thriving, which is the university campuses, the universities have for the most part sold out their bookstores to Barnes & Noble or to another chain. So that even the Harvard Co-op and the Yale Co-op, stores that for many years were important intellectual centers on the campus, are now run as parts of the Barnes & Noble chain. So the universities are in part responsible for this.
Talk about the value of having someone in a store who knows the inventory and who cares about literature, so when you ask about Neruda, for example, they can refer you immediately to this book.
This is a question of pay. Most of the people who work for the chains are making as much as people who work at McDonald’s. So you get fast thought, is what I call it, in addition to fast food. In Germany, you need to have a diploma, not an MA or anything, but a diploma that shows you’ve taken a course on how to be in a bookstore and how to identify where the books are. Obviously, if you’re paying people as little as the chains do—they’re not quite as bad as Wal-Mart, but they’re certainly not much better—then you’re going to get people who don’t have a clue.
I remember when we had published Dr. Seuss Goes to War , which was a very popular collection of Dr. Seuss’s cartoons of the Second World War era. We were selling tens of thousands of copies. I went into the main Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue to see where they had the book. I asked the clerk at the reception desk where it was. Not only had he not heard of the book, which is understandable perhaps, but also he had never heard of Dr. Seuss, someone whose work has sold in the tens of millions of copies over the years.
Amazon.com has been drowning in red ink over the years. It has yet to turn a profit. Yet it has had an enormous influence on the book publishing industry.
The interesting thing about Amazon—and indeed it was true of Barnes & Noble for many years—was that making money on the shares was not the major intent. It was getting the stock prices as high as possible. So the share prices on Amazon were high for a long time, because people thought this was the wave of the future. They, in turn, would spend tens of millions advertising the brand name and getting everybody to think of them as the place where they could get a book. In many cases Amazon doesn’t have the book, any more than your local bookstore. They order it from the publisher and will send it to you in a few days. Any bookstore in the country could have done the same thing. What Amazon did was to use the vast amount that was invested by their shareholders not to buy lots of books, but to buy lots of ads. That was very successful, but it was also successful at a very high cost.
Another wave of the future was E-books, electronic books, books online. It was being heralded as the coming thing. The actual hard copy of a book that you could leaf through was going to be obsolete. That’s kind of regressed from that initial euphoria that greeted it.
There has always been in American culture an assumption that there was going to be a quick technological fix to any problem that we had. The E-book thing lasted just for a year or two. But the problem was that this really works in a negative way. In other words, if the publishers don’t keep their backlist, if the stores don’t keep the backlist anymore, then, of course, saying you can get an E-book is the inexpensive way of doing that. But it also means that no one is going to go into a bookstore and find a book that they didn’t know they wanted. That’s, of course, one of the services bookstores traditionally played.
Talk about the value of books in terms of transforming people. Howard Zinn told me that he meets lots of people, and no one has ever told him, for example, that this movie changed my life, but many people have told him that this book has changed my life.
That’s been one of the traditional roles that you expect of books, whether it’s fiction or poetry or nonfiction. I think everyone can think back on books that affected them, whether it was a book they were made to read at university or school or which they discovered on their own. The important thing is to maintain the possibility to surprise people and to maintain in books the variety that makes them interesting because, if they all end being the same book, obviously people will stop turning to them.
One of the successes you’ve had was a book by James Loewen, a historian, Lies My Teacher Told Me .
His book was a marvelous examination of American history high school textbooks. When we first published it, we thought it would have a limited audience because only people involved in secondary education would probably read it. We discovered that was far from the case. The book has now sold over a quarter of a million copies in its various editions. We’ve discovered that parents and students are much more interested in what’s being taught in the schools than people credited them with.
We did a book called Other People’s Children by Lisa Delpit, which was a marvelous discussion of what happens in classrooms where the kids and the teachers come from different ethnic backgrounds. It’s a book that no commercial publisher would have touched and which has now sold well over 100,000 copies. When we published the book May It Please the Court , which was the recordings of the major cases over the last 50 years in the Supreme Court, everyone said this is highly technical stuff. Only lawyers and law professors will want it. We sold 60,000 copies the first year.
The systematic underestimation of the public has led people to think there is no audience here and everyone assumes that you never lost money underestimating the public. Obviously, the large houses have. They have constantly turned down possibilities to do books on subjects that are key to our history.
We did two books of tapes of interviews and text, one called Remembering Slavery , which were the recordings that had been in the Library of Congress for the last 70 years. They were done under the New Deal. They were the actual voices of the slaves being questioned about their past. It’s interesting that no one bothered to look at that stuff until we decided we would publish it with the tapes and so on. Now Skip Gates has taken the idea and made a very successful HBO series out of it.
But it shows that there has always been—and this goes before the conglomerates, obviously—a certain bias as to what people are willing to read. That has elements of class bias in it, has elements of racial prejudice in it. It assumes that there are no audiences for certain areas, that all these black folks are not going to want to read about their past in that way.
In your book, you describe going to the Yale Club and speaking to a group of your former classmates. You had some interesting conversations with them.
I was talking about what’s happened to publishing. At the end of the talk, I was besieged by former classmates who said, “Oh, you think you have it bad. You should see what it’s like to be a lawyer, a doctor, or an architect.” It was clear, then, in all of what we used to think of as the liberal professions—and publishing was among those—money had taken over and people no longer were able to make decisions of their own on the basis of what they thought was needed, whether it was for a plaintiff or for a patient or for someone who wanted to build a house. The decisions were being made for them by the people who controlled the money in those firms. Law firms and the like, which one used to think of as being able to do cases pro bono and to have other standards than money, were as much caught up in this as anywhere else.
Obviously, what we hope and we see with the small, independent publishers that there is a younger generation that is not going to buy into the money culture and that has decided that some of these values still matter to them.
David Barsamian is founder and director of Alternative Radio. He is the author of Decline and Fall of Public Broadcasting as well as Propaganda and the Public Mind, with Noam Chomsky. He is a regular contributor to Z , the Progressive , and other publications.
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IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.