In the end the world you take is equal to the world you make.
The Heroes and Hobos Poetry and Publishing Cooperative is a Coalition of Individual Poets and Writers, Independent Presses and Small Magazines/Journals. As a cooperative body we combine our services, skills, and products, on the one hand, and our professional needs and requirements on the other — offering our members a range of support services, training and educational resources, mentorship, and various other benefits that too often elude those who commit their lives to either personal or collaborative creative pursuits outside of normative institutional structures/supports.
Taking as our motto the Buckminster Fuller quote, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete,” our Cooperative seeks to answer the question, “How can we use the power of our community and its extensive, international network, to create and support ourselves (and each other)?” Using new technological/social media tools, and thereby via the virtual support/participation of the greater writing and publishing community (alongside the local “all hands on deck” cooperative model), we seek to inspire and empower ourselves and younger creatives to feel confidence in the viability of the writing/publishing life as a career – and to provide all of us with training/the tools necessary to make that a reality.
The space itself will serve as a hybrid — simultaneously serving as a central retail destination for the small-scale productions of these artisanal presses and publishers [both on site and via an e-commerce module], as well as providing a flexible, dynamic center for community needs and activity. For our members, we offer co-working space and office facilities, a professional mailroom/shipping and receiving, sliding scale space rental for workshops, readings, meetings and other events, a reading library, etc. All members are automatically eligible to sell their publications on consignment via the onsite/e-commerce bookstore, and receive discounts on space rental, classes, and any in house publications. Non-local members are eligible to sell through our platform and in-site store as well as to use the co-working facilities when visiting NYC – a welcome respite from the overpriced-coffeeshop freelance ritual we know all too well.
As a group, these organizations already offer a plethora of educational opportunities for all ages; many of our members also work within the school system in NYC and elsewhere (public and private, early childhood to graduate programs) – what a shared, permanent physical location makes realizable is the establishment of a community program and class calendar that can provide a continuous revenue stream for both the cooperative and its members.
Many of our members self-publish internationally recognized books at a very small scale – one that is not eligible (at less than 500 copies) for Small Press Distribution, leaving already strained individuals and organizations personally responsible for marketing and distributing publications. For publishers, writers, and anyone interested in literature, the establishment of a community hub which both serves and disseminates the work of the literary community from within is a potentially hugely important step – one that will bring value and visibility to some of the critical, groundbreaking work being produced by these people and organizations.
The Cooperative also takes as its operational imperative the concept of Open Source – suggesting therefore that replication, generosity, collaboration and sharing replace competition as a model amongst members. It also wishes to use the power of the network both utilizing new/social media and traditional organizing methods to create a resource center via which we can “lifehack” our profession – that is, relearn, adapt, reframe, and reskill: to create and organize community intelligence into a database of narratives and replicable models for personal, creative, academic, financial and other guidance. This will be community edited, along the lines of a Wiki, and will exist in hard copy on site as well as downloadable guides on the website.
Other goals include offering group health insurance and the establishment of a Writers Credit Union – we look to Etsy, Actor’s Equity, shared Artists Spaces like Proteus Gowanus, and the business model of local Food/Produce cooperatives (and the quick growth of CSA’s in NYC in the last few years) as examples of established, wildly successful and enormously popular organizations/businesses providing to other communities via a variety of mediums what our community so sorely needs.