Penny-wise oaks

Letter by Ross Bradshaw, Five Leaves Publications, Nottingham

ImageI was interested to read the article by Milan Rai about radical philanthropy (PN 2546) though I worry slightly that readers might think you have to have a lot of money to create something useful.

This year Five Leaves Publications was involved, with Housmans in particular, in setting up the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing – a national award which received publicity in many places, including of course PN.

This cost us £1,000 and we hope to pull in other funders this year to enable us to reduce our commitment. Similarly, three years ago we set up States of Independence, an annual East Midlands book fair-cum-conference for the independent publishing sector, at a cost of a few hundred pounds.

Both Bread and Roses and States of Independence have the potential to grow, and become a permanent part of the infrastructure of independent publishing, at low cost and low maintenance. Yes, if would be great if well-off people used more of their resources ‘for the revolution’ but those acorn things work quite well too in creating oaks.

Editor response:

Thank you, Ross for making an important point. Whatever our financial situation, we can make a difference.

At the Edge Fund meeting referred to in the article, a Caribbean participant urged activists to use ‘sou-sou’, a West African informal savings system. Each member of the ‘sou-sou’ contributes a certain amount weekly. Every week, one new person from the group is chosen by lottery to empty the pot into his or her bank account, until everyone has ‘won the lottery’. Then the order of payouts from the first round is followed indefinitely. Everyone was very taken with the idea (though there are downsides: you lose out on interest, and there’s no legal contract to back up your agreement). – Eds

Topics: Activism, funding