Itƒ?TMs A Radical Hangout, Literally.

By Andy Ver Steegh

I’ve spent a couple of nights this past week in a room somewhere on our leafy campus filled with books and other assorted readables with such titles as “Exist!: Anarchism in a Nutshell;” “Fighting For Our Lives: An Anarchist Primer;” “An Activist’s Guide to Basic First Aid;” and “What is Green Anarchy?: An Introduction to Anti-Civilization Thought and Practice.” Can you guess where?No friend, it’s not the Harmon Reading Room in the DeWitt Wallace Library, but that was a good guess. Give up? I was in the basement of Kirk Hall, hanging out at the Macalester Infoshop, one of the most tangible incarnations of the Macalester radical activist scene.

The Infoshop is, first and foremost, a non-hierarchical coalition. The current incarnation of the Infoshop is “a place for people to collide on projects,” Sophie Smith ’08. Virtually any activist or radical group on campus has been involved in some way, shape, or form with the development of the Infoshop over the course of the past couple of years, and it appears that most of the people who staff the Infoshop are active in other organizations as well. What I gathered after talking to a few of the Infoshoppers is as follows.

The Infoshop first appeared as a collection of books in the upper floor of the Campus Center during the 2004 school year. The original intent was to amass a collection of radical/alternative literature not otherwise available on campus, and make it available to anyone who wanted to read it. Support for this project came from a variety of organizations including the Macalester Peace and Justice Committee (MPJC), Student Labor Action Coalition (SLAC), Chanter, the Queer Union (QU), Macalester Urban Land and Community Health (MULCH), MacGreens, and the Grapevine Media Collective. Eventually, the Infoshop outgrew its modest cart in the Campus Center, and with support from QU, moved into the Kirk basement last year. The Kirk space is open from 6-12 p.m. Sunday to Thursday for general use, staffed by volunteers. Materials and other resources still come from this broad network of organizations, as well as personal donations.

Despite the variety of organizations and individuals involved with the Infoshop, a few common threads seem to unify the organization. Very broadly, these threads entail anti-capitalism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, and no matter what your specifics beliefs are, a general commitment to activism.

“I got involved [with the Infoshop] because I think that Macalester lacks a space where alternative viewpoints can be expressed and supported,” Brendan Rogers ’10 said. “The Infoshop provides an area for organizing and sharing. It also has a library with material that can’t be found anywhere else on campus.”

With the Infoshop, everything comes back to the books; they are the beating heart of the coalition. To extend the metaphor further than it really should be extended, every heart needs a set of lungs, a brain, and some kidneys. To this end, the Infoshop library has an extensive selection of zines (including back issues of our campus favorite, the Hegemon), a selection of videos and a Wiki site (available at mpkb.net).

Says Rogers, “I hope that the Infoshop serves as a central place for students to organize their struggles and make progress. Come by any time we’re open and explore what we’ve got.”