The Lucy Parsons Center

By Sublett

The Lucy Parsons Center is Boston's collectively-run radical bookstore and community space. Named after the famous anarchist organizer and IWW co-founder, the LPC is entering its 40th (they think) year of operation.

In addition to selling a wide variety of radical books, 'zines, DVDs and other literature, the LPC provides meeting space for groups and events. Wednesday night is reserved for radical film screenings, and fundraising events and author appearances happen on a regular basis. Comfortable couches, free wifi and a public Internet terminal are available for the convenience of visitors.

Decisions at the LPC are made on a consensus basis at bimonthly steering committee meetings, which are open to any collective member who wants to attend. Agenda items can be proposed in advance by members even if they don't go to the meeting. This system allows members to choose their own level of involvement, neither being forced to assume a greater burden than they can handle nor trapped in a permanent underclass.

In February, the LPC set up a computerized inventory system using software acquired from the wonderful people at the Red Emma's bookstore in Baltimore. A weekend-long data entry party saw the entire stock categorized, inventoried and re-shelved. Since then an LPC member has added several useful new features to the software.

Currently, the biggest problem at the LPC is finding enough active members to cover shifts. Unfortunately, the store is sometimes closed simply because no one is available to work. While several new people have joined the collective in the past few months, they have mostly been offset by existing members leaving the country. To alleviate this situation, the LPC is recruiting trainees to join the collective. Trainees work four training shifts, during which they observe the operation of the store, and four double shifts, during which they run the store with a collective member standing by to answer questions. In addition, they write a brief letter of introduction stating why they want to join the collective, and observe at least one steering committee meeting before being voted in.

The Lucy Parsons Center is located at 549 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA 02118. They can be contacted at 617-267-6272 or at lucyparsons AT

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