Happy Ninth Birthday SubRosa! (and some Santa Cruz radical history)

Today it is November 1st and SubRosa is nine years old. Below is part of a post I wrote two years ago when SubRosa turned 7 (updated to acknowledge the passing of years)...

September and October 2008 we worked on the inside and courtyard at a space at 703 Pacific Avenue that was soon to be named SubRosa (check out the entry about this at this website Name Suggestions 4 Infoshop).  Lots of folks and lots of hours.  On Halloween we were still working on the inside, painting.  People would drift in and out in costume to help until late into the night.

The next evening, November. 1st was our opening with an art show and music!  It poured rain that night and the courtyard flooded.  We called the outside area the info-swamp and set down blocks of cement as stepping stone islands.  Inside the space was packed and humid.  The paint started dripping down the walls and quite a few people went home wearing the paint on their clothes as they unwittingly leaned against the wet walls...hopefully a nice reminder of a great opening night.

And now 9 years later we are still going...doing-it-together.  Come to SubRosa and check out what is going on.  Go to our events page at this website for more info at SubRosa Events.  The space is what we make of it, and this includes you as well.  There are many ways to contribute to SubRosa. Get involved with the space...join the collective...host an event...show your art...and so on.  Another world is possible.  We can create it now, and at the same time counter the coercive and destructive impact of the over-culture.  A question i often ask myself is, how can SubRosa be relevant to those endeavors?  Let's figure that out together and do it (especially in these times).

Much appreciation to all those who have contributed to SubRosa over the past 9 years...so many people in so many different ways.  And may we continue to thrive for years to come.

from indybay post from early November 2008:  https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/10/28/18547019.php

SubRosa, a new community space in downtown Santa Cruz, hosted its grand opening event on November 1st. The event included an art show, spoken word, live music, food, and a first look inside this vibrant new social space.

Music poured out into the rainy night, as people cramped tightly together to share in the musical performances at the grand opening of SubRosa. The small, but cozy space was filled with a vibrant youthful crowd. Event goers snacked on piles of free bread, and coffee from reusable ceramic mugs. Artwork from local artists covered the freshly painted walls, as well as a colorful display of ‘zines, and a lending library. The set had almost everyone jumping and singing along. The space will be a home to future performances, open mics, and Free Skool workshops. Stop in for a steaming cup of coffee and check out the extensive library.

SubRosa: A Community Space is a non-profit, donation-funded space for art and radical projects run by a collective of volunteers from the Santa Cruz anarchist community. Located at 703 Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz, SubRosa is open 7 days a week, 8am-1pm and 3pm-8pm.


Some Santa Cruz radical history...SubRosa is part of a lineage, in some cases direct and in other ways indirect. Here are some of those radical ancestor projects and spaces. Written from my perspective. -j!

-in early 2000s there was a radical/anarchist community space/ infoshop located on Walnut Avenue that shared space with Bike Church and Hub called the Rhizone.  It had a library and meeting space. I went there for Free Radio Santa Cruz meetings and other groups had meetings there too. Some groups had desks and work spaces there.  It ended in part due to complaints from upstairs neighbors (things came to a head after a particularly raucous show there) and money was also a stress. Santa Cruz radicals and anarchist went to Seattle in the late 1990's and this was inspirational for folks. I was not intimately involved with this project so I can’t comment on it much.  In the same building was the Hub at which an anarchist discussion group that met (this was after the Rhizome closed).  There was also a dumpster collective that used the fridge in the backroom of the Hub.  So much food abounded and was shared!

-What Is Art? was a radical performance and art space located at the other end of Pacific Ave. past the town clock.  Not explicitly anarchist, it was run as a collective and was around in the late-ish 1990's.  I was also involved with this space, as was another initial member of the SubRosa collective core: http://www.santacruzart.net/2007/04/now-what-what-is-art-collective-is.html

-Santa Cruz Anarchist Infoshop, that never really settled on a name, 2004: http://santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/9970/index.php and http://santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/8412/index.php  and http://santacruz.indymedia.org/feature/display/9991/index.php  and http://santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/10070/index.php and http://santacruz.indymedia.org/mod/otherpress/display/233 (this article originally in Good Times…one sided view and take with a grain of salt…it does point out some of the tensions involved in the group)

-After the above infoshop closed the @ library moved to the Sacred Grove and I tended it for some years.  This was meant to be temporary as we thought we would find another space but that didn’t happen.  Sacred grove folks were very supportive and even gave me a key to the space: http://santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/11122/index.php

And of course much more could be (and will be) written...

Collective Dreaming in the Sierras

In mid-September the SubRosa collective went on a retreat to a land project in the Sierras.  We had many intentions about why we would travel over four hours to be together for  four or five days.  There were themes that we shared in common:  to be together in a different place and have fun and share our days and nights...to be on and with the land and to share that experience together...to dream about SubRosa and the collective, about how those are now and could be.

We accomplished all of this and more...from coffee and yerba mate in the morning to honoring the bottle at night, we had full days of varied experiences...games and solo wanderings and focused conversations about our lives, about the project, about anarchy, about the place we live...what is and could be...

Changes are in the air...the continued changes in the season from fall to winter...and changes also at SubRosa...some quick and some slow...

Come visit us and we welcome you to join with us at this pivotall time of grounding our dreams.

And so it has been a couple of months that we in the collective have been back from the retreat.  Change can come at a varied pace.  Earlier in this journal there is a post about the starting the project, and over time we have changed, in part as a reflection of who is in the collective in this moment.  I feel that it is healthy and important for the project to shift and change so that  it is alive and to not stay the same, to not fall into the trap of the founders' syndrome, where the original intentions for the project become set in concrete and growth becomes inhibited.  This can be a delicate balancing, where the fulcrum can have a shifting place, to be grounded in set intentions, learning along the way and to also be flexible to try new things and to honor the energy of folks that are currently involved.

A sign we put on the gate reads:  Hello! The SubRosa collective is making changes to this space and to our intentions for its use.  For the next month or so, we may not be open during the usual times, but we will be hosting the  events listed on the calendar below. In the long term we will still hold open hours, with more energy focused on events: shows, classes, workshops, and more!  More info at subrosaproject.org.  And email us event proposals (meetings, performances, art projects, or something else) at subrosa-events@riseup.net

And we are still in that process of moving away from the main way we operate is in terms of open hours, to embrace more specific usages of the space.  At the same time, we need to bring in money to pay the rent and other expenses.  So, this is something we are still brainstorming about and putting into practice (more on that in another post).

We in the collective are figuring out how to put more direct energy into the space, to hold events and/or reach out to others that want to do so.  The previous model of staffing open hours as the primary way of being involved in the project had become routine and uninspiring.  We are working on a process of letting go, of including others to have have access to the space, who aren't collective members, of finding new ways for folks to be meaningfully involved in the project.

We had a get-together about that last Monday, as a response to someone in the collective who had questions about SubRosa's health and our general follow through after the retreat.  We emerged committed to this shift, to have SubRosa be a vibrant community space, where so much does and can happen.

About Free Skool Santa Cruz

SubRosa is a space where many possibilities unfold that range from happenings during open hours to music shows to art openings to film showings to educational events, like Free Skool classes. The project has been active for over 5 or 6 years or so. 

Here is more about Free Skool Santa Cruz from the Free Skool website (where you can access the calendar to see the full range of offerings).

A radically different approach to living and learning, Free Skool Santa Cruz is a grassroots educational project with classes held in homes, social spaces, and parks.  It is an opportunity to learn from each other and share what we know, with a focus on self-reliance, community, do-it-yourself culture, and creating a new and beautiful world.

The project strives to blur the lines between teacher, learner, and organizer, while posing a direct challenge to dominant institutions and coercive power structures. Part of creating a new world is resistance to the old one. Through this project, we want to change the way we learn, teach, and relate to each other.

with love,
the Free Skool Collective

Notes on Fundraising for an Anarchist Community Space

[These are notes from the collective member who handled fundraising from when we opened in Fall 2008 until Fall 2012.]

I’ve done fundraising for local public radio since the early 2000s, and for Free Skool and SubRosa since the mid 2000s. This is a small and very incomplete collection of thoughts about fundraising.
Asking for money is generally not easy of people, but I operate on the premise that if the project is one that someone supports, they truly want to give as much as they are able to support the project. I try to be honest, transparent, and direct. I also struggle not to water down my requests for money.
In my opinion, the ideal person to do this should be communicative, comfortable being direct, willing to listen, conscientious, have lots of connections in a wide breadth of areas, and be really on top of things.

I create a fall and spring fundraiser each year. The Spring fundraiser ends in early summer so people can get on with their vacations and stuff without worrying about money. The Fall fundraiser ends before the new year so people can take the contribution off on their taxes if they are so inclined.
In general, I talk about “support for the space” rather than “donations.” Donations feels like something you give to a charity, while we usually are trying to create a collaborative community project. Support can come in many forms, and while I am writing or calling to get financial contributions, I like to acknowledge frequently that support comes in many forms.

There is an important tool I use during each fundraising campaign: The Donation Appeals List. It is how I track who gave money when, who my contacts are, how I know about them, and so on. This allows you to tailor your requests to the people you are asking. “I know you haven’t supported SubRosa financially in a few years, and I’m thinking this might be a good time to check in with you about how things are going.” Etc.

Phone calls and in person meetups -- though time-consuming -- are way more effective than emails and should be employed if you can.

I don’t have a template for fundraising emails. Each batch of fundraising emails has to be unique and heartfelt. A general appeal might include
  1. greetings
  2. statement of our goals in the fundraiser
  3. what they are supporting / connect with what we both want to see in the world
  4. fundraiser progress
  5. suggested action
  6. reminders and little details
  7. thank you.
I generally send several batches, saving the most specific ones to go directly to my identified contacts (directly, never Cc’d or Bcc’d), and usually personalized based on my shared history with this person. Here are typical batches of letters I send out.
  1. Before the seasonal fundraiser happens telling people it is coming up. Usually with an invitation to chat more about what we are doing right or wrong. This helps identify people who want to be more involved with supporting the space.
  2. When the fundraiser starts, making our goal for the fundraiser clear.
  3. A quarter of the way through, giving an update on progress.
  4. Half way through, giving an update and whether we are going at a reasonable or worrisome pace.
  5. Three quarters of the way through, reminding people time is running out.
  6. Last week, Hurry!
  7. Last day, OMG!
  8. Thank you and report back on the success of the campaign.
Throughout the fundraiser I’m talking and exchanging emails with people about concerns, excitement, what happening at the space, and so on.

I also try at least once to make sure that our fundraiser is heard about outside of our own little community, because there are people out there in the world who'd love to support a great local project.

I create a WePay campaign for each seasonal fundraiser and use the progress bar graphics to show the fundraiser’s progress visibly on our website and in each update email I send. We used to use PayPal but they fucked us over so many times, it is ridiculous.

How are we doing?
Time Left
Support SubRosa
Support the Fall Fundraiser!

It is challenging to keep track of the money that will naturally come in from other channels -- direct donations in the space, checks, etc -- but important because this support also reflects the momentum of your fundraising campaign.

That’s it for now, though I might update this on occasion.

Toward a Consent Culture

“Today I'm going to fulfill a promise I made quite a while ago, and talk about what a consent culture would look like.”

Toward  a

An excerpt from the excellent sex and feminism blog 
The Pervocracy by Cliff P. at pervocracy.blogspot.com
A consent culture is one in which the prevailing narrative of sex--in fact, of human interaction--is centered around mutual consent.  It is a culture with an abhorrence of forcing anyone into anything, a respect for the absolute necessity of bodily autonomy, a culture that believes that a person is always the best judge of their own wants and needs.

I don't want to limit it to sex.  A consent culture is one in which mutual consent is part of social life as well.  Don't want to talk to someone? You don't have to.  Don't want a hug? That's okay, no hug then.  Don't want to try the fish? That's fine.   Don't want to be tickled or noogied? Then it's not funny to chase you down and do it anyway.

The good news is, there are things you can do to bring this about.  Things beyond just “don't rape people” (although that's an excellent start).

Here are ways you can work toward the creation of a consent culture.

>> Download a nifty printable PDF version of this one page zinelet.  

Ways You Can Work Toward the Creation of a Consent Culture

1. Don't rape people. It does bear saying.  And I don't just mean “don't put on a ski mask and jump on strangers in dark alleys” rape, either.  Don't have sex with someone who is not unambiguously, enthusiastically, and continually consenting.  Don't have sex with someone who says “I guess so” or “okay, fine” (unless they are grinning lasciviously as they say this).  Don't convince someone to have sex.  If they don't want you, really want you from the bottom of their heart and/or groin, respect that.

2. When someone doesn't want to have sex with you and so you don't, talk about it.  Share that you're bummed but also that you take pride in your ability to take it gracefully.

When you didn't want to have sex with someone and so they stopped, talk about it.  Share that despite the awkwardness you're glad they took it gracefully.

These are tough things to discuss (in part because they sound kind of Captain Obvious, like, no shit it was nice of you not to rape someone), but they're important narratives to put out there. Others' stories shape our ideas about sex, and hearing stories that fall outside the “have sex or you're a failure” mindset are important in changing those ideas.

3. When someone tells you about pressuring or tricking someone into sex (and you're in a situation where it's safe to do so), call them the hell out on it.  “That's not cool.  It doesn't sound like he/she wanted it.”  You don't have to use the R word, you don't have to tell them they should be arrested, you don't have to call them a rapist piece of shit--you just have to make it clear they're not getting any goddamn high fives.  When you hear someone bragging about sex like it was a prank they pulled on their partner, bring the mood in the room the hell down.

You can do this with fictional stories, too.  You don't even have to be no-fun then.  “Wow, you guys, 'Baby It's Cold Outside' is totally a date rape song.”  Without requiring a rant or a buzzkill, it just quietly plants the idea that no, that is not a “totally legit way to get sex” song.

4. When you see something that looks abusive or nonconsensual going on, don't turn your back.  At least be a witness--just the presence of another person can be someone's biggest guarantee of safety.  Stepping in and checking if everything's okay is even better.

5. Ask before touching people.  Say “do you want a hug?” and if they say no then don't hug them--and also don't give them any shit about not being friendly or affectionate.  Don't make a big deal out of it, just make it part of your touching-people procedure.  If they say “you don't need to ask!” nod and smile and keep on asking.

6. Negotiate sex!  Explicitly negotiate sex play, and BDSM play if you do that.  Be eminently clear about the fact that play is not a package deal for you, and your partner is free to change their mind about any part of it at any time--as are you.  Err on the side of blunt, and say corny shit like “can I kiss you now?” and “I'd like to touch your chest.”

Once in a blue moon (really not as often as some people would have you think), you may run into a partner who refuses to negotiate, or who says “I would have done it before you killed the mood by asking.”  Do not have sex or play with this person.  Their loss.  This is you putting the principle of “consent matters” above the principle of “have sex at all costs!”, and you can brag about it when you're busy changing narratives.

7. Re-negotiate sex!  While I don't think every step of “can I kiss you now?” is necessary in a long-term relationship, it's important to keep talking about what you want and don't want.  You're not strangers anymore, no, but you're also not merged into the same person.  Keep active consent alive in your relationships.

8. Learn to love consent.  I worry that I've made getting consent sound like a chore.  It's anything but. Asking for consent is a moment of delicious tension, of emotional connection.
A “yes” brings the joy of knowing someone is really hot for you, really wants you.  It means that they're going to not just go along with but be into the stuff that comes next.  That's not “prerequisite checked off,” that's “awesome, this is going to be so much better now.”

A “yes, conditionally” helps you be a better lover to them, someone who can give them just what they want and nothing they don't want.

9. Learn to appreciate “no.” A “no, not at all” is bittersweet--or okay, sometimes it's fucking crushing--but it brings some finality and certainty with it.  If you're not going to have sex anyway (and you're not, unless you were going to rape this person), at least you get to banish the “maybe I could have, why didn't I try” thoughts.

Remember that ultimately asking for consent is not asking someone to make a decision whether they want sex with you or not.  That decision's going to get made, one way or another.  Asking for consent is simply asking to know about that decision.

10. Talk about consent.  Make consent part of the stories you tell about sex.  Just a natural part of the process, something that ought to be taken for granted will be part of a sex story.

“So last night I asked Sandra if she wanted to hook up and she gave me an enthusiastic yes.”
“I heard that Rob and Josie totally agreed to have sex at Jesse's party!”
11. Bring consent out of the bedroom. I think part of the reason we have trouble drawing the line “it's not okay to force someone into sexual activity” is that in many ways, forcing people to do things is part of our culture in general.  Cut that shit out of your life.  If someone doesn't want to go to a party, try a new food, get up and dance, make small talk at the lunch table--that's their right.  Stop the “aww c'mon” and “just this once” and the games where you playfully force someone to play along.  Accept that no means no--all the time.

Beyond what's necessary for their health and education (and even that touches iffy territory), I don't believe in doing this to kids, either.  The size and social-authority advantages an adult has over kids shouldn't be used to force them to play games or accept hugs or go down the big slide.  That sets a bad, scary precedent about the sort of thing it's okay to use your advantages over someone for.

It's good to practice drawing your own boundaries outside of the bedroom, too.  It can be shockingly empowering to say something as small as “no, I don't want to sit with you.”  “No, you can't have my phone number.”  “I love hugs, but please ask me first.”  It's good practice for the big stuff.  Simply learning to put your mind in the frame of “this person does not want me to say no to them, and they will resist me doing it, but I'm doing it anyway” is a big, important deal.

Consent culture is a tough thing to build. It's barely starting to get tiny little footholds in the mainstream culture.  But it grows in little microcultures, tiny bubbles of sex-positivity and circles of friends where consent is the norm, and it has potential to grow so much more.   Make it part of your own life, and it becomes just a little bit bigger part of the world. Start living consent culture.

>> Download a nifty printable PDF version of this one page zinelet.

Security Culture and Personal Info

Hey, y'all.  Thinking about security culture and sharing personal info. This is something long-term SubRosa staffers know, but not necessarily patrons, visitors, and prospective volunteers.

Our policy is to never give out any personal info about staffers and volunteers without their explicit consent.  That includes telling when someone staffs, sharing phone numbers, confirming someone's name or nickname, or, for that matter, even confirming who does and doesn't staff at the infoshop. 

It is good basic security culture (and good manners) to respect where other people draw boundaries around their own privacy, which may be different from where you draw your own boundaries.

Here are some examples of things you can expect us not to share:
  • Anyone's phone numbers, full names, nicknames, or other personal info without their explicit consent
  • Staffer's schedules or when they work at SubRosa
  • Private or staff emails
  • Things said in our staff meetings
  • Challenges or conflicts with other staff members, volunteers, or patrons
The reasons for this are many:  First, we want to know we trust each other to have our backs. And part of that is knowing we can respect each others boundaries.  
Next, consider just a few possible scenarios in which staffers, volunteers, or patrons may wish to keep their info private: Individuals may be the subject of law enforcement interest -- the tiny bits of information you inadvertently give them may be used against friends.  Some individuals are survivors of physical or sexual violence or intimidation by ex-partners -- they may prefer to remain under the radar.  Some individuals may have public positions that could be endangered by sharing publicly that they are involved in an openly anarchist space. For that matter, some people may just prefer to keep their info private.

Your unwillingness to volunteer info about others may frustrate some people, but if they are really friends, they should understand.  Generally, you might try something like: "I'm not comfortable sharing information about that person without their consent.  I hope you understand. I can try to pass a message on for you if you'd like."
In a similar vein, SubRosa has a photo/recording policy that attempts to protect people's privacy.  We ask video and audio recorders to let the staffer know they want to take photos or record and get explicit positive consent from anyone who might be recorded or photographed.

This is important for all of our safety, so I hope people take it to heart.  I'd like to hear other people's perspectives and voices on this.

Cheatsheet for Promoting Events at SubRosa

This is both a cheatsheet for staff and a transparent look into how event bottomliners promote our events.

Music and non-music events

  • Add to SubRosa events google calendar (it will show up automatically on the website)
  • Send email to SubRosa announcement list, subrosa@lists.riseup.net (you'll need admin privledges for that)
  • Send email to other appropriate email lists (Free Skool, the Hub, UCSC lists, whatever)
  • Go to blogger, publish the draft that gets created when you send to the SubRosa list.  First strip footer and extra stuff from title.  Give it the appropriate tags/labels.
  • Post facebook event from SubRosa FB page
  • Post on the wall of the SubRosa FB page
  • If you have a few weeks notice, submit to the two free weekly calendars

Art Shows

  • Point artist to Artists Guidelines and Tips of a Successful Art Opening - a month before show
  • Get artist's material (bio, show description, & image) early - three weeks before
  • Write press release using artist's material & PR template, submit to weeklies and paper with image - two weeks before (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
  •  Submit to weekly calendars online (with image if possible) - two weeks before (Good Times, Santa Cruz Weekly)
  • Make flier or get one from artists.  Flier around town, or give fliers to people who do - one week before
  • Do all the things above that we do for regular events, SubRosa email list, blogger, and Facebook - one week before

Happy Neighbors

We like to keep our neighbors happy and let them know that we respect them and want to work with them.  So every now and then, especially before a loud show, it is good to bring them a little flier to hang up on their fridge.
Hi!  I'm Jo.  I bottomline shows and events at SubRosa.

We have all sorts of events, live music, movies, speakers, that we'd like to invite you to.  Check our events calendar on our website:  subrosaproject.org

We try to end all of are shows before 10pm.  But if one of our events is too loud or if there is another problem, please call me or the other event coordinator. Here's my phone number... and here's the other event bottomline's number.

I'd appreciate it if you called me rather than the police, so if there is a problem we can work it out together before it is a problem.

Thanks.  We're glad to have you as a neighbor.

Are we forgetting anything?