Tuesday, October 14, 2014

In Other Words Feminist Community Center

In Other Words Feminist Community Center
In Other Words' former location on
Hawthorne Boulevard (2006)

Location: 14 North East Killingsworth Street, Portland, Oregon, USA

Opened: 1993


In Other Words is not lost yet, but it is seriously endangered. Here is their self-description from their website:

In Other Words has been serving the Portland community as a feminist bookstore, a low-cost and safe events space, and a community resource center since 1993. We are a feminist community center whose mission is to support, enrich, and empower the feminist community through literature, art, and educational and cultural events.

We were founded by Johanna Brenner, a PSU professor, and Kathryn Tetrick and Catherine Sameh, both women’s health activists. The center was created in response to the closure of “A Woman’s Place,” Portland’s only feminist bookstore.

We moved from the original location on SE Hawthorne to NE Killingsworth in 2006 to a bigger space in the former Albina Arts Center, which is still owned by the Albina Women’s League. The move to the new space enabled us to expand the programming we offered and accommodate more people at events in our space.

When we opened in 1993 there were over 200 feminist bookstores in the United States and today there are fewer than 30. In Other Words is the only feminist bookstore in the United States that also functions as a nonprofit organization, which has allowed us to serve a unique role in our communities.

As we have observed the demographic, cultural, and social transformations of Portland’s diverse feminist communities recently, we’ve identified new needs and shifting interests that have inspired us to undertake one of the largest expansions in our organization’s history: we are becoming In Other Words Feminist Community Center.

But now they are in trouble:

In Other Words is facing closure

Most years, October is a month of joy and gratitude as we celebrate our birthday.  This year, the month of our 21st birthday, felt bittersweet as we held an urgent community meeting on October 5th to talk about our capacity deficits and the fact that we are seriously considering closing our doors.

We heard your voices loud and clear that you don't want this to happen and that you are committed to having In Other Words around for years to come.  We gave ourselves until the end of the month to increase our capacity.  At the next public community meeting on November 8th, we will determine whether we have built enough capacity (re)commit to In Other Words so that we don't have to go out of business.

That said, now comes the hard part.  It is time to walk the walk.  We are in need of serious funding, and a serious increase in our volunteer capacity and our board of directors membership.  Part of increasing our volunteer leadership and board leadership includes asking YOU to help us lead In Other Words towards becoming the open and affirming feminist community organizing space we all crave and desire.

If you are interested in volunteering, please email us at volunteer@inotherwords.org; please email us at humanresources@inotherwords.org to express interest in joining the board of directors.
In addition to our critical need of increasing our volunteer base and developing our board of directors, we hope to raise at least $20,000 in order to keep our doors open, and ideally need to meet our annual goal of $60,000 in order to remain sustainable.  It costs us a bare minimum $5,000 per month in order just to squeak by, and we need all the support you can give in order for us to stay open into the year 2015.

We need to do some serious fundraising in the form of financial donations, and serious "friendraising" in the form of recruiting new volunteers and new board members. 

We have four weeks in order to build up our capacity in terms of new volunteers, new board members, and new donations.  If we haven't met our capacity goals by November 8th, we will need to close our doors.  Please contribute to this campaign to help us ensure that is not the case!

The question we get most often is, "but don't you make zillions of dollars off of the TV show Portlandia?!"  The short answer is:  NOPE.  Far from it.  Unfortunately, the fact that the TV show Portlandia features a regular feminist bookstore parody does not provide us with any substantial revenue flow and Portlandia-related donations are far from enough to pay our bills.  We aren't rolling in money from Portlandia, but we do have a great time meeting local celebrities Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, and enjoy chatting with them about feminism and community organizing in between shoots. 

As you well know, we are an entirely volunteer-run feminist nonprofit community space that truly relies on volunteers and donations to keep going.  

Please help us increase our volunteer and board leadership, and please make generous financial gifts if you are able, in order to help In Other Words continue to grow in to the passionate, committed, brave, resilient feminist community organizing space we all need and want.

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