New Village at 10 Years: Still Powered by the Grassroots

December 11th, 2015

Email This Blog Post Email This Blog Post Filed under: New Village Commons— Lynne Elizabeth @ 10:34 am

As we approach the end of 2015, we at New Village Press are feeling more reflective than ever—this year marks, as our friend Roberta Schine dubbed it, our Tenth Press-iversary! To propel us into our second decade, New Village Press is running a monthlong crowdfunding campaign—New Village Press: Building the Beloved Community. Please consider making a contribution (tax-deductible) and sharing our campaign with your community. But first, join us in our time machine as we travel back to Friday, August 26, 2005!

Mat Schwarzman opened the door of his New Orleans home for a highly anticipated package—his advance author copies of Beginner’s Guide to Community-Based Arts, his and New Village Press’s first published title! Mat and the book’s co-author/illustrator, cartoonist Keith Knight, were excited with us about book launch events scheduled in and around NOLA. History, however, like that city’s famous curve in the Mississippi, bent the way it would. Saturday morning, fervent neighbors grabbed Mat and his wife Mimi—who were recently without an operational car—to evacuate with them, warning of a coming hurricane. The next morning, indeed, Katrina hit New Orleans.

Keith's prescient drawing of Mat in their book's introduction.

(That’s Keith’s prescient drawing of Mat in their book’s introduction)

After a few nights in a remote hunting lodge that offered shelter, Mat, Mimi, and loyal canine Lundi Gras were lent a car by complete strangers and drove all the way to the San Francisco Bay Area, where they could dry out their socks in the company of friends like Keith. It was there they learned that New Orleans residents would not be allowed to return to their city for three months. Three months!!! Mat could have put book peddling on hold to lament this forced diaspora—but wasn’t this the moment people most needed creative tools for community building? With a nudge from Keith, they took their dog-&-book show on the road, playing community centers, bookstores, museums, libraries (also a few pizza parlors) as far as Detroit to share New Village Press’s inaugural book and the power of grassroots social change.

We look back at our beginnings grateful to have been lifted by Mat and Keith’s resilience, by their good humor in difficult times, and especially by the strength found in coming together to create positive change. This commitment to developing an openhearted society is what carries us through obstacles, distractions, and dips in the road. We’re also buoyed by the fact that this very first book we published remains a top seller after ten years!

As we step out of our time machine, we’re asking you to help us bring readers the best in social justice, participatory planning, community building, ecology, and community-based arts. Please help us continue our distinctive publishing—which the sale of books alone does not cover—by making a contribution before the end of December!

 


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