do you run a print shop? if not why not? what can the movement do to support you?
i ran a print shop under the banner "mobile front" for a few years in portland maine. i distributed free/pay what you can zines, and offered free/pay what you can printing services to working class activists and organizers. passive donations, people paying what they chose to at the point of exchange, paid for things like paper and ink, and food, drinks and cigarettes for unwaged workers producing and distributing media and at meetings. we also fundraised more actively using crowdfunding platforms, and direct donor requests of more priveleged activist allies in the community.
i also offered "featured zine sets" where folks could mailorder 3 zines in a certain subject for $5-15. i successfully applied for one 1k microgrant through a radical non profit movement based foundation, that was divided up among the print shop and food not bombs sandy relief. and i did one larger fundraising campaign, for 1k, which was split up between homeless solidarity project, buying socks and shoes, and the print shop.
the equipment all shit the bed last year in the middle of a large job, printing a statewide homeless newsletter for peer support and advocacy group i was trying to start, to educate, and organize direct action housing solutions. and i haven't bothered trying to fundraise to get new equipment yet but I would like to. kinda got jaded and given up on a lot of movement stuff, and grappling depression these days, seeking treatment and support, with my sights on restarting mobile front, and homeless solidarity project, and food not bombs, in a more sustainable sort of way.
think i depended too much on social media and online outreach and organizing, and so relationships with volunteers and participants were always kinda superficial and work oriented. im on the spectrum, so need to find partners who can help navigate the more interpersonal shit people need to feel engaged because as much as i love people, and love working with people on movement stuff, i just lack certain cognative capacities that people need to feel connected in a group.
so yeah, this is where im at and taking steps to work on it. learning about my personal issues that got in the way of my organizing. and also exploring different funding mechanisms. i think next time i will be stricter about priveleged activists paying more, and possibly trying to market the print shops pay services to greens and non profits, so there is a reliable income to fund anarchist prop. also want to do more micropublishing, producing original content, rather than focusing almost exclusively on redistributing found zines. last time i was also homeless, using friends basements, with unreliable access, for production space, and distributing out of backpack, on foot. this was limitting, so with more personal stability i hope to do an all around better job at mantianing an indemedia presence and grow something sustainable.
please share your print shop stories, good or bad, what you learned, obstacles you encountered. if you want to start a print shop but don't know where to begin, feel free to ask im sure folks are willing to share their experiences. and if an exciting project pops up maybe as a movement network we can help throw down to get it off the ground, or grow something already established. maybe we can also talk a little strategy, are there certain locations maybe where anarchist media may be needed more than others? maybe where there isn't much already?