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Open Letter to Microcosm Publishing

June 30, 2012

brainscan21We signed on to this statement about Microcosm and Joe Biel after being informed about Joe’s behavior both in Brainscan 21 zine as well as from Cindy Crabb’s statement about no longer publishing her work with Microcosm.
June 29th, 2012

Dear Microcosm,

We write as zine distributors, zine-makers, library and infoshop collectives, community accountability supporters, and festival organizers from the DIY (queer, feminist, punk and/or anarcha-) community. We express our concern regarding your support of a perpetrator of abuse. The wide reach of Microcosm’s distribution can be intimidating for any individual to speak out against, so we write this together, in solidarity.

We refer to your statement from June 2011, regarding Joe Biel’s involvement in Microcosm. You ended with “We do sincerely hope to open the conversation” and “Expect to hear more from us soon!” We ask, was the conversation opened? And, what was the follow-up to this?

You wrote: “Joe stepped down from being a collective member, and Microcosm will be collectively owned by the remaining members by the end of this year [2011].” Yet in 2012, Joe is listed in your newsletters and homepage as a member of Microcosm. We think this to be insensitive, considering that people are emotionally invested in your real and genuine response to Joe’s lack of accountability. You mentioned transparency, but we ask, what has been done since June 2011? Why is there no visible communication, on your website, newsletter or annual report?

Restructuring is one thing, but our main point is the accountability of an individual who still works for Microcosm. His name was not added to your statement, and this appears as though he has other people speaking for – and protecting – him. A statement where he speaks for himself, and is clear about his role in Microcosm, is overdue. A statement about whether or not he wishes to take responsibility for his own behavior is long overdue. We are worried about the power that Microcosm gives to an individual who has been known to abuse his power. We are concerned that Joe is not working towards changing his behavior. Is Microcosm going to put into practice their rhetoric about supporting survivors, and reflect on their role in perpetuating abuser’s behavior?

We would like to support you, but cannot do so as long as you support a perpetrator of abuse, whilst being passive and/or unaccountable for it. We were surprised and left a little lost by the brevity of your statement/s. Your lack of action and communication has been frustrating, disappointing and puzzling to us – as anti-oppression, social justice, or anarchist collectives. Whether or not Joe continues to be a member of Microcosm, we feel that trust in the collective, in its ability and desire to respond and be supportive and to follow through, has been ruptured.

We don’t believe that boycotting Microcosm is an adequate response to abuse, but we are uncomfortable with having any kind of relationship with Microcosm without an acknowledgment of, and a response to, Microcosm’s continued work with and, through that, support of Joe Biel who has not been responsive to and responsible for his patterns of behaviour.

Hundreds of zinesters and collectives may not feel comfortable associating with someone who is not acting accountable for his abusive behavior. Has informed consent been given to all people that are being published or distributed by Microcosm?

These are some things you could do now:

  • Explain the situation to anyone you are working with. Ask for their informed consent to continue work with them from this point onwards.
  • Make clear how the process of decision-making is progressing, and make it visible and transparent to your colleagues and “customers”.
  • Keep an updated list of action points and major decisions somewhere visible, that are in response to concerns, eg. “The collective is working to create a Resource Council, an independent group of volunteers to offer support and mediation to Microcosm – This was done in Dec 2011”. List other things that the collective has aimed to do so people stay informed on if these things have been achieved.
  • If there is no continual process with Joe, if he is not currently working to change his behavior, then he should not be benefiting from his position of power. He should no longer be a part of Microcosm.

These processes and recommendations should have already been considered by the collective years ago. We realize that this is hard work, but it should have been, and should still be, your priority over business as usual. It is the responsibility of your collective to self-educate, and to conduct its own accountability process, without external pressure or provocation.

We hope to hear from you soon, as your response is long overdue. We would like to hear from you by the 1st of October, 2012.

  • Heavy Mental Distro, Berlin
  • Anna Vo, Fix My Head zine, Berlin
  • Cindy Crabb, Doris zine, Support zine
  • Sonia, Mimi Zine Distro
  • Sarah Tea-Rex, Brighton
  • 56a Infoshop, London
  • LiLi, London
  • Billy Phoenix, London
  • Emma, Angry Violist
  • Colin, Slice Harvester
  • Project Bridget, Melbourne
  • Cherry Bomb Comics, Auckland
  • Daniel Boyle, Capital Eyes Zine, Canberra
  • Ariel Silvera, Queer anarchafeminist, Republic of Ireland
  • Halley, Infecticitis Zine, Raumschiff Distro, Berlin
  • Minnehaha Free Space/MARS Collective
  • QUARREL, Oakland
  • Philly Survivor Support Collective
  • Wooden Shoe Collective, Philadelphia
  • For the Birds Feminist Collective, NYC
  • Support New York
  • South Brooklyn ABCF
  • The NYC Coalition for Safer Spaces
  • Papercut Zine Library, Boston
  • A-K Pirata, Princesa Pirata Distro
  • Neon Rouge, Wellington, Aotearoa
  • PRAXISS, Portland
  • Boxcar Books and Community Center, Bloomington
  • Alex Wrekk, Brainscan Zine, Stolen Sharpie Revolution, Portland Zine Symposium organizer, Portland Button Works co-owner

Added Signatures:

  1. Kathleen McIntyre, Editor of The Worst New York NY Jun 29, 2012
  2. Tee Rex Sour Puss zine, Brisbane Jun 29, 2012
  3. Cheyenne Neckmonster Copy That! Distro Lexington, KY Jun 29, 2012
  4. Tara Scherner de la Fuente Cincinnati, OH Jun 29, 2012
  5. Maranda Elizabeth Guelph, Ontario Jun 29, 2012
  6. Nicole Introvert Richmond, VA Jun 29, 2012
  7. Kye Ginger Brooklyn Jun 29, 2012
  8. Michelle Aiello – Indigo Zine Lexington, KY Jun 29, 2012
  9. Kit A. Montreal, QC Jun 29, 2012
  10. Justin Cory Portland Jun 29, 2012
  11. l b chicago, il Jun 29, 2012
  12. Derek Neuland All Things Ordinary zine, Portland Button Works co-owner, Portland Zine Symposium organizer Portland, OR Jun 29, 2012
  13. Blue Crow Portland Zine Symposium Organizer, Stumptown Underground Founder + Organizer, IPRC Volunteer Portland Jun 29, 2012
  14. Travis Wigginz honolulu Jun 29, 2012
  15. Kate Larson New Paltz, NY Jun 29, 2012
  16. Kisha Hope Chicago Jun 29, 2012
  17. Doug Taylor Oakland, former PZS organizer, zinester on hiatus Jun 29, 2012
  18. Frances Mican Bloomington, IN Jun 29, 2012
  19. lily pepper ottawa on Jun 30, 2012
  20. Elizabeth Mills Warner Robins, GA Jun 30, 2012
  21. Angela Asbell Bitch King Zine Jun 30, 2012
  22. amy leigh twelveohtwo zine distro Toronto, ON., Canada Jun 30, 2012
  23. Brad New Direction Fest organizer Olympia Jun 30, 2012
  24. Quinn St. Quinn Chicago, IL Jun 30, 2012
  25. Emily Orellana Portland, OR Jun 30, 2012
  26. Maya Hawthorn Louisville, KY Jun 30, 2012
  27. Sara Smaha Can’t Go Gently zine Jun 30, 2012
  28. Giz Medium Beausoleil, FR Jun 30, 2012
  29. Rae Logios omaha/lincoln, nebraska, usa; logios press + distribution Jun 30, 2012
  30. Lisa Dorazewski Bloomington, IN Jun 30, 2012
  31. Sarah-Beth Ellipsis zine Coventry, UK Jun 30, 2012
  32. Raquel Gunman Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa Jun 30, 2012
  33. Andrew Gramm Minneapolis, MN Jun 30, 2012
  34. Paul Baribeau Bloomington, IN Jun 30, 2012
  35. Adam Lavery Melbourne, Australia Jul 01, 2012
  36. Amber Dearest, Fight Boredom Distro Montreal, QC Jul 01, 2012
  37. Kim Naeseth Bloomington, IN Jul 01, 2012
  38. Emily Oh Vancouver, BC Jul 01, 2012
  39. leslie perrine, organizer of chicago zine fest Chicago, IL Jul 01, 2012
  40. Cheyenne McClain Portland, OR Jul 01, 2012
  41. Hoax Zine Baltimore, Maryland Jul 01, 2012
  42. Greg Harvester San Francisco Jul 02, 2012
  43. Mateo Casa de los Trucos zine Raleigh,NC Jul 02, 2012
  44. Justin Gardner Librarian, Lou. KY Jul 02, 2012
  45. Noemi Martinez hermana resist Weslaco, TX Jul 02, 2012
  46. Sarah Bee Long Island, NY Jul 02, 2012
  47. Siue Moffat Toronto Jul 05, 2012
  48. Rachel Casiano Hernandez Frederick, MD Jul 08, 2012
  49. alez barrows berkeley Jul 09, 2012
  50. Kent Ross Sackville Jul 09, 2012
  51. SB RC Halifax Jul 09, 2012
  52. Julia Caron Quebec City Jul 09, 2012
  53. Kika Saunders Brooklyn Jul 09, 2012
  54. Tukru Vampire Sushi Distro Chatham UK Jul 09, 2012
  55. Tina Armstrong Tacoma Jul 09, 2012
  56. Tuomas Järvenpää Joensuu Jul 12, 2012
  57. Sarina Ramirez Sacramento, CA Jul 14, 2012
  58. Caleb Hunt Philadelphia, PA Jul 18, 2012
  59. Nausea Nissenbaum Not Afraid of Ruins zine Wellington Aug 03, 2012
  60. Sarah Rose Once Upon a Distro, Philly Feminist Zine Fest Philadelphia, PA Aug 05, 2012
  61. Ashley Honaker Dover, NH Aug 06, 2012
  62. j. sisu/no history no self/null & void zines london, uk Aug 15, 2012
  63. Lucy Parsons Centre Boston, MA Sep 29, 2012
  64. rina anxiety australia Nov 06, 2012
  65. Gianfranco Ureta Huancayo, Perú Nov 08, 2012
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