Read. Discuss. Snack. Live.
You’re invited to come over to Diggers Books & Zines to read and discuss radical-left texts on 4 evenings during the month of September. Come to one, some, or all four nights. Limited space (max 8 people) so please e-mail to reserve a spot if interested in any of the discussions described below. Thursdays at 7pm at Diggers on September 7, 14, 21 and 28, 2017 Contact me by e-mail to reserve a spot at: email@example.com
SEPTEMBER 7 Anarchism 101 and Q&A An overview of what anarchism is and a discussion of its principles. If time permits, let’s talk about ideas within anarchism and how they might be used in everyday community organizing and in creating projects for a better world.
SEPTEMBER 14 Zine Club:Capitalism and the Mystique of the Local. It’s a short text so we’ll have time to read it on the spot and discuss the topic. This is a great little zine out of Grand Rapids, Michigan that deals with a topic especially relevant in our community.
SEPTEMBER 21 Lessons from The Common Ground Collective After the inspiring organizing by the CGC during Hurricane Katrina, the Collective is on the ground now helping those affected by Harvey and Irma. Could the community based strategies used by this group transfer to the County? Let’s discuss after reading a short excerpt from Scott Crow’s book on the subject and listen to a recent short interview as a starting point for discussion.
SEPTEMBER 28 Your Pick and Share
Read any anarchist(ic) zine, book, blog, or online article, share a brief summary with the group and what you thought of the piece. Some good texts can be found here. If you’re already familiar with anarchism and radical left politics, choosing something will likely be easy. If not, you might want to come to a couple of the previous discussions, especially the Anarchism 101, to get some ideas or to borrow a zine.
Looking forward to hanging out in September!
We had a great opening last Saturday at Diggers. Thanks to everyone who came out, especially friends who came all the way from Kingston and Peterborough to spend the day. We ate, laughed, came in and out of the rain, talked about recent actions, and about possible future events at the shop and in the County.
Ktown friends also brought more zines to add to the collection and copies of The Peak for the free bookshelf, which was greatly appreciated.
Reading zines in the shop is encouraged, so come to browse and feel free to sit at the table or out in the yard and read the zines. You don’t have to buy them. If there’s one you do want to take home or pass along, the $2 or $3 we’ll collect will be sent to the author(s) or distro to offset the costs of printing.
That’s all the news for now. Tonight I’m excited to be making another order to PM to replace what’s gone off the shelves already, and adding some great new titles,too.
I’ll be open this Saturday and Sunday, and future weekends for the summer from 11am to 4pm, and by chance whenever the sandwich board is out by the road.
Hey! I’m starting a little book shop!
It’s a radical-left / feminist / anarchist / book and zine shop where we’ll also host workshops and talks with drinks and snacks.
This is an idea that I’ve had brewing for a while.
For me, working toward building a better world has always been greatly informed and sustained by reading and I think the same is likely true for others. Books really can change lives! Zines can, too.
But one problem I’ve found is that books on how we might organize society differently for a better world, or that offer serious analysis and spark ideas to inspire us to action aren’t widely available.
So this is what’s happening so far with the shop that I hope will remedy that where I live.
First, I’ve been working on transforming what we call “the studio” into a store. This is a space beside our garage that we used years ago when we ran Art Jam camp. Since then, the room has mostly just been a place to store piles of stuff and to keep all of our Food Not Bombs supplies and various banners. Reorganizing that has proved to be a challenge, but it’s coming along and I’m almost there!
Secondly – and this has been the most fun – I’ve placed and received book orders from both PM Press and AK Press in Oakland, California, to bring in a curated selection of social justice, anarchist and feminist titles that you won’t find in any mainstream book store.
In the used book section I’m putting together, there’s a selection of homeschooling titles, some highly recommended works of fiction, and the largest selection of physics – yes physics – books in the entire county! Thought provoking zines, some silkscreened patches and t-shirts, and a few other surprises will also be available.
I’m really hoping to make this a fun place to visit, to stop by for inspiration, for shared learning and maybe have a tea or coffee, a snack, and on a hot day, a freezie.
All being well, I’ll be opening on Saturday, July 8th. We’re at 2568 County Road #13 in Prince Edward County.
That’s it for now. My next post will explain why the shop is called Diggers and offer a peak at some of the titles we’ll have available.
Stay tuned and follow this blog if you’d like updates.
Thanks for reading,
If you’re looking for unique books on radical left politics, homeschooling, feminism, DIY, or some great fiction, drive down to South Bay in Prince Edward County and check out my sweet little bookshop!
We specialize in alternative literature, radical-left non-fiction, but I’m also a lover of good stories, so there are plenty of novels on the shelves, too. And I’ve read almost everything in the shop so I’m always happy to make a recommendation.
We also have silkscreened patches, postcards and some art.
Discussion nights at Diggers will begin on Thursday evenings in July and some special events are in the works for Friday nights, too, so please follow us on facebook, instagram, or subscribe to this blog.
According to a recent visitor to Diggers, the shop is “dope as hell” and were pretty stoked by the compliment! In trying to live up to that high honour, we’ve got lots of awesome new books and zines on the shelves for our season opener this Saturday, June 2nd from 11am to 7pm. In addition to new books, maybe being “dope as hell” has a lot to do with the atmosphere in the shop where you’re welcome to just hang out. There’s also interesting stuff like silkscreened patches, pins, coloring books for kids (that you won’t find likely find elsewhere) and art, along with free stuff. There are often vegan snacks and drinks, too.
The new titles in the shop are from recent travels to Victoria, Seattle and Portland with the bulk being ones I chose while at last weekend’s always-inspiring Montreal Anarchist Book Fair.
We’ll also have workshops and events at Diggers over the summer so come and learn what we’ve got in store and also let us know what you might like us to host.
You can find a full list of our books online, too at: catalogue
The zines aren’t listed though, so you’ll have to drop by!
Here’s a small sampling of the new titles (it’s so hard to choose what to highlight!): Against the Wall: Featuring the work of artists Banksy, Ron English, Blu, and others, as well as Palestinian artists and activists, these photographs express outrage, compassion, and touching humor. They illustrate the wall’s toll on lives and livelihoods, showing the hardship it has brought to tens of thousands of people, preventing their access to work, education, and vital medical care.
Fermentation on Wheels- Road stories, food ramblings, and 50 Do-it-yourself recipes Whitsitt, a self-styled “gastronomic nomad” and fermentation educator, takes readers on an entertaining and informative journey as she drives a converted school bus across America and spreads the gospel of fermentation. Fueled by love of teaching, community, and potlucks, Whitsitt, in her lab on wheels, explores the emerging fermentation subculture at organic farms, markets, off-the-grid communities, and urban settings—wherever the DIY food movement and passion for sustainable-living practices thrive. This cookbook (with such headings as “Fear Is the Fuel for Exhilaration”) offers basic fermentation recipes using starter cultures such as sourdough, koji, yogurt/kefir, vinegar, and yeast. She also includes recipes for basics such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and condiments, including a fermented hot pepper sauce and miso mayo. There are sourdough pancakes, English muffins, dosa bread, and beverages such as fig cider kombucha, fruited meads, and fizzies. Salinity charts, equipment lists, environmental-control tips, and information for sourcing starter cultures are also provided. Whitsitt’s adventures encompass battles with bus breakdowns, loneliness, and self-doubt, but she never loses sight of her mission: “Food was never a political statement before I discovered fermentation.” On her magic school bus, she is a veritable Ms. Frizzle, sharing the science and benefits behind the healthy microorganisms of our inner ecosystem.
Things that make white people uncomfortable: Super Bowl Champion Michael Bennett is an outspoken proponent for social justice and a man without a censor. Bennett is a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end, a fearless activist, a feminist, a grassroots philanthropist, an organizer, and a change maker. He’s also one of the most scathingly humorous athletes on the planet, and he wants to make you uncomfortable.
Small is Necessary – shared living on a shared planet: For centuries now, economists and governments have been relentlessly focused on growth. Bigger is always better, they say. But on a planet of finite resources, something has to give. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. With Small Is Necessary, Anitra Nelson show how shared living can help us solve a wide range of the social, economic, and sustainability challenges that we face today. Detailing a number of innovative approaches to shared living, she reveals a new way to think about our place in the world, one that is outward-looking, culturally rich, and ecologically sustainable.
The Feminist Utopia: 57 visions for a wildly better future: In this groundbreaking collection, more than fifty cutting-edge voices, including Melissa Harris-Perry, Janet Mock, Sheila Heti, and Mia McKenzie, invite us to imagine a truly feminist world. An abortion provider reinvents birth control, Sheila Bapat envisions an economy that values domestic work, a teenage rock band dreams up a new way to make music, Katherine Cross rewrites the Constitution, and Maya Dusenbery resets the standard for good sex. Combining essays, interviews, poetry, illustrations, and short stories, The Feminist Utopia Project challenges the status quo that accepts inequality and violence as a given—and inspires us to demand a radically better future.
I Mix What I Like: In a moment of increasing corporate control in the music industry, where three major labels call the shots on which artists are heard and seen, Jared Ball analyzes the colonization and control of popular music and posits the homemade hip-hop mixtape as an emancipatory tool for community resistance. I Mix What I Like! is a revolutionary investigation of the cultural dimension of anti-racist organizing in the Black community.
Blending together elements from internal colonialism theory, cultural studies, political science, and his own experience on the mic, Jared positions the so-called “hip-hop nation” as an extension of the internal colony that is modern African America, and suggests that the low-tech hip-hop mixtape may be one of the best weapons we have against Empire.
Jared A. Ball, PhD, (a.k.a. The Funkinest Journalist) is the host of FreeMix Radio, and associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University.
Antifa– The antifascist handbook If you’re curious and want to learn more about anti-fascism, and if you’re interested in history at all, this is a great read. It’s broken down basically into 2 parts: the history of antifascist struggle in Europe and USA and an analysis of antifascist philosophy and tactics. Whether you are straddling the fence or on either side of it, this book is broadly informative and interesting.
Revolution in Rojava: Democratic autonomy and Women’s Liberation in the Middle East is, above all, a testament to humanity’s political potential. Given the widespread violence and suffering in Syria, it’s not unreasonable that outsiders look at the situation as unrelentingly awful. And while the reality of the devastation is undeniable, there is reason for hope in at least one small pocket of the nation: the cantons of Rojava in Syrian Kurdistan, where in the wake of war people are quietly building one of the most progressive societies in the world today. Revolution in Rojava tells the story of Rojava’s groundbreaking experiment in what they call democratic confederalism, a communally organized democracy that is fiercely anti-capitalist and committed to female equality, while rejecting reactionary nationalist ideologies. Rooted in the ideas of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, the system is built on effective gender quotas, bottom-up democratic structures, far-sighted ecological policies, and a powerful militancy that has allowed the region to keep ISIS at bay. This first full-length study of democratic developments in Rojava tells an extraordinary and powerfully hopeful story of a little-known battle for true freedom in dark times.
Fiction – The Cost of Lunch by Marge Piercy: With uncompromising emotional intensity, Piercy (Gone to Soldiers), the author of 17 novels, 17 volumes of poetry, and a memoir, captures the complex female experience in her debut short story collection. From the title story featuring an aspiring female poet who weighs the price of sex and poetry to a student’s disenchantment with her high school teacher (“Somebody Who Understands You”), Piercy maps the interior lives of women across generations, paying special attention to the socio-politcal environment that affects them. Her writing maintains a skillful detachment, limning moments of isolation between characters with palpable unease: “He is gentle. If he does not touch her with passion, neither does he hurt her. That is very important, not to be hurt.” Piercy, whose work is inseparable from her feminist politics, includes many characters (seven of whom are writers) who are suggestively autobiographical in their histories and musings, including a girl dying of rheumatic fever (“She’s Dying, He Said”), an anti-Vietnam War activist shuttling men to the Canadian border (“The Border”). Piercy is best at unraveling what she creates-turning an answer into a question in “Do You Love Me?,” and a soliloquy punctuated by silence in “Little Sister, Cat and Mouse.” Powerful in scope, the collection feels driven by an idea rather than a story, demonstrating Pierce’s understanding of how social constructs evolve in deeply personal ways.
Just Work? Migrant Workers’ Struggles Today :This offers a vast range of original, grass-roots perspectives on global migrant labour organising in the twenty-first century. An important book that shows how the power of organised labour – precisely because of the potential of mass movements to disrupt entrenched habits – can help solve complex societal issues.
From diverse worker’s organisations in South Africa to migrant worker resistance in the Gulf, from forest workers in the Czech Republic to domestic workers’ structures in Hong Kong, the book brings together a wealth of lived experiences and hidden struggles for the first time.
Birthright? Travelogue of an American Rebel in Israel / Palestine: In 2013, author-activist Nani Ferreira-Mathews participated in a popular free ten-day “birthright” tour of Israel offered by the Taglit-Birthright organization in an effort to explore and reconnect with her Jewish heritage. This day-to-day account of the daily programs, activities, and dating games—as well as the tour guides’ stubborn refusal to discuss or even acknowledge Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories—reveals an agenda animated by racism, heterosexism, colonialism, and militaristic nationalism.
Drawing upon her experience as a person of both indigenous Hawaiian and Jewish heritage, Ferreira-Mathews interrogates the meaning of “birthright” within a settler-colonialist nation, where national identity is so fundamentally entangled with the systematic displacement of native peoples.
I recently travelled to the west coast – Victoria, B.C., Seattle and Portland – and had such fun adventures including checking out great bookstores and infoshops. It was especially inspiring and useful now that I’m back home getting Diggers ready for this season. We’re opening again on Saturday, June 2nd and everyone is invited to help us celebrate the day.
Now, back to my travels. One of the highlights was going with my friend Tara (so great to catch up with friends!) to Camas in Victoria. I picked up interesting zines and free local lit, too, so much so that I mailed everything back to my place before travelling on to the US. Beside the fact that I like to travel light, I’m not sure I would have wanted to carry what I picked up through customs.
In Seattle, I went to Left Bank books. Located right in the downtown Pike Place market, the store has been collectively operated since 1973. Owned and run as an anarchist collective, it has no bosses or managers. Decisions are made in bi-monthly collective meetings based on a consensus process.
I could have browsed there all day! I did pick up more zines here, too, which I’ll have in the Diggers shop this summer if anyone wants to read them.
Portland was where I spent the last week of my trip, and it did not disappoint! Awesome town. Unfortunately, when I went to the anarchist Anarres infoshop, I found it closed. But fortunately, even mainstream bookshops in that town have rad books. The Powell’s on Hawthorne, just down from where I was staying, had books I wanted, though no zines.
I did find a treasure trove of books and zines at Microcosm (check out the video on their fb page) and put in an order with them for Diggers as soon as I got back home (more on that in my next blog post).
I always visit public libraries wherever I go. Seattle’s was impressive and I spent half a day there. Half a day at a communal table in a public library is highly recommended if you want to get a feel for a town or city.
The public library in Portland, though not as initially impressive, did have zines and I spent a few hours at the downtown branch where I also found copies of the Industrial Worker, the quarterly publication of the IWW.
Speaking of the IWW, I was lucky enough to catch up with folks from the Burgerville Workers Union. A chance meeting on the bus with one of the workers on his way to the picket made it especially nice for me because I got to take part in their 2-year anniversary celebration and soft picket at the Powell BV location.
What they’ve accomplished is exciting and an encouraging example of how collective direct action can change our lives for the better.
This trip was full of beauty – the Hoyt arboretum was a fave – and unexpected inspirations including lots of wheat-pasted posters of resistance to business-as-usual,
BLM signs on people’s lawns, street art, cheap and extensive public transit, water fountains everywhere, worker and community owned shops,
lots of vegan food and so many plants! Everywhere, flowering trees and greenery between sidewalks and roads, and sometimes over them.
And bikes. Lots of bikes. And dogs, of course.
Next post is about the new books that just arrived in the shop. Please consider following the blog if you’re interested in updates.
Being part of Adventure PEC, the inaugural scavenger hunt that had teams driving around the County while trying to win money for their chosen charities, was a blast! Though Diggers wasn’t officially open, we were super happy to be one of the stops on the May 5th adventure. Almost 70 people came by to find clues in the trees outside the shop and to help us write a Mad Lib that was later read at the after party at Prince Eddy’s Brewing Company. Eating popcorn was good for an extra 50 points when the scavengers stopped by, too.
Many thanks to Krista Dalby who pulled this fun time together and to everyone who included Diggers on their route. Come visit us again when you’re not on a mad-dash scavenger hunt! Our official opening day day is Saturday, June 2nd, 11am to 7pm.
It’s been cold – there’s no heat in the store – so, not much has been happening over the winter other than making plans for the epic spring and summer coming up!
I’m looking forward to all kinds of fun in and out of the shop at Diggers when the warmer weather arrives. Discussion nights, which proved to be a hit last summer, will start up again. That’s where we pick a topic, sometimes sparked by a zine in the shop, discuss and drink tea.
I’m planning on some free “make it” events, too, including zine making, card crafting , and my latest obsession, embroidery to both repair clothing and make some statements.
A talk and slide show about craftavism and street art gathered from some of my travels may also be in the cards as well as some music events. And there will be potlucks!
I’ve been reading a lot over the winter and combing through catalogues to bring you the thought-provoking, community building, and inspiring books you won’t easily find elsewhere in the County.
Lastly, I’m also building an interesting collection of used DIY books and some entertaining fiction, all under $5 or pay-what-you-can.
As always, there are some free reading materials to take home, and zine reading in the shop is encouraged.
The “official” opening of Diggers will be Friday, June 1st and with an evening social.
I’m looking forward to warm days and lots of sharing the love of the written word and community with everyone. And if you want to be kept in the loop, please follow this blog or find us on instagram and facebook at Diggers Books and Zines.
Cindy’s Milstein’s writing has been significant in helping inform my politics, inspiring me, and it has given me language to help me articulate my ideas.
A few years ago, I was fortunate to hear Cindy present a couple of workshops at the Montreal Anarchist Book Fair. Her engaging, welcoming talk was a highlight of the event for me, so I’m really excited that she’ll be at Diggers on the evening of November 27 as part of her book tour.
Going back to 2010, Cindy’s Anarchism and Its Aspirations was my first introduction to her work. It remains one of my favourite introductory books on the topic and is a staple at Diggers. Her contribution to the Lexicon pamphlet series, a project of the Institute for Anarchist Studies, is still one of the best little primers on anarchism I’ve found as well. It’s free to download here.
The current book tour that brings Cindy Milstein to us in the County – via Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto and Hamilton – is Rebellious Mourning – The Collective Work of Grief. Caretaking of her two sick and dying parents in 2013, followed by again caring for her second chosen mom who died in 2015, prompted Cindy’s writing this new book about love, caregiving, loss and grief as well as about caring communities from a politico-personal point of view.
“Via first-person and/or frontline stories, the anthology’s thirty-seven contributors illuminate, bittersweetly, that we can bear almost anything when it is worked through collectively,” writes Cindy. “Grief is generally thought of as something personal and insular, but when we publicly share loss and pain, we lessen the power of the forces that debilitate us, while at the same time building the humane social practices that reduce suffering and accentuate quality of life for everyone.”
I’m so thankful that Cindy is taking the time to come and speak with us and share her writing.
Please join us on Monday, November 27 at 7pm. Come earlier at 6:30pm if you’d like to share a meal with us beforehand.
While not necessary, it would be very helpful in planning if those who intend on coming, could let me know. You can respond on the facebook event page, or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org (see and ask why).
It’s going to be a special evening. Hope to see you then.
Kropotkin knew a few things. And despite the fact that he died in 1921, his works are still around to help challenge our assumptions, examine how we see the world, and to offer ideas of clarity in dark times.
I’m not sure which books by this beard-rocking Russian anarchist/geographer/philosopher/writer I’ve enjoyed the most, but I’ll choose Mutual Aid: A factor of evolution today, especially since you can read it online for free. Of course, we have the book in the shop. too. We also have Memoirs of a Revolutionist, Fields, Factories and Workshops and The Conquest of Bread. Mutual Aid explores the role of mutually-beneficial cooperation and reciprocity both in the animal kingdom and human societies, past and present – well, relatively present. It argues a case against Darwin’s theories of competition (indispensable in upholding capitalism). He also makes a case against the starry-eyed representations of cooperation in the writings of people like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who felt universal love was behind cooperation rather than self-interest.
I just revisited pieces of Kropotkin’s writings and they stand the test of time.
“…in the long run the practice of solidarity proves much more advantageous to the species than the development of individuals endowed with predatory inclinations.”
― Pyotr Kropotkin
By the way, the Diggers shop will be open Friday, the 13th and both Saturday and Sunday, October 14 and 15, if you feel like browsing the shelves, having some tea, and/or reading some zines.
Stay tuned for news in the next post about a couple of projects we have underway for the fall and winter.
Recently, a couple in their early to mid twenties on bikes dropped in to Diggers, our little bookshop just a little ways passed the rock cut in South Bay. They were headed to Little Bluff when they saw my sign for the shop. Visiting from Montreal, they said they were so happy and amazed to discover a shop like Diggers “in the middle of this place”. Apparently a little radical left bookstore, where you can sit and read zines, have tea and hangout, isn’t what people expect amidst the wineries and the rural back roads.
Chatting, I learned one of them had just attended, for their first time, the annual Montreal Anarchist Book Fair in May. Much of the literature they’d seen there was on our shelves. They hung out for a while in the store, then bought a couple of books and zines and were on their way.
Another guy came by one day who was a retired union head and we had a brief chat before he took home Unfree Labour: Struggles of Migrant and Immigrant workers in Canada. This book explores labour migration to Canada and how public policies of temporary and guest worker programs function in the global context of work and capitalist restructuring. Contributors are directly engaged with the issues emerging from the influx of temporary foreign workers and Canada’s “creeping economic apartheid”—the ongoing racialization of economic inequality for many workers of colour. The essays also examine how migrant and immigrant workers have organized for justice and dignity in Canada. As opposed to a good deal of current writing that often ignores the working conditions and struggles of racialized migrant and immigrant workers, the authors contend that migrant workers, labour organizations, and migrant worker allies have engaged in a wide range of organizing initiatives with significant political and economic impacts. These have included both court challenges to secure legal rights to unionization and grassroots alternatives to traditional forms of unionization through workers’ centres.
For the past few days, everyone who’s come by has had the option of taking home some organic pears from our backyard. Yesterday, two couples came by and one of the gentlemen saw a little book I’d found in a thrift store years ago called Civil Disobedience – Theory and Practice. It was written in 1975. The visitor said he’d played sports back in Oslo with one of its authors, Christian Bay.
I’ve had so many interesting conversations in the shop with everyone from neighbours I might not have met otherwise, to friends of friends from out of town.
Last Thursday, we had our first “Discussions at Diggers” nights. The topic was Anarchism – what, why, how. Imagine, sharing ideas face to face! So much better than on social media. This was the first of four Thursday evening discussions happening this month, each focusing on a different topic (Read the previous post blog for details).
In closing, I have to recommend a book I’m currently reading that has been especially meaningful with hurricanes Harvey and Irma underway. Black Flags and Windmills – Hope, Anarchy and The Common Ground Collective by scott crow (intentionally lower case) is a powerful and inspiring story about the work and organizing the collective carried out during hurricane Katrina. Here’s a short video about the book.
As one of the reviewers said, the book would make a great movie. It reads like a novel, but it’s all true and speaks to the amazing achievements of communities coming together.
I’m actually putting in an order for a couple more copies of this title.
That’s all the news from Diggers for now. Please come by for a visit sometime soon. We’re open weekends and sometimes during the week, until it gets too cold. Follow us on facebook or instagram, subscribe to this blog or text or call at 613-920-4914 if you want to come by outside of regular hours.