The following was written by Firestorm Collective member Libertie Valance in response to the recent news of Internationlist's closing.
I'm so sad to see Internationalist Books & Community Center in Carrboro close it's doors. As a high school student this unique activist center and it's dynamic community were central to my political development. And for the last sixteen years, despite living too far away to be a constant participant, the Internationalist has exerted a quiet gravitational pull, shaping my world through the fact of its vibrant and improbable existence.
When Firestorm opened in 2008, we drew inspiration from Internationalist Books, among a handful of similar projects that brought together community space, the sale of radical literature and a commitment to collective self-management. Now, with news of their closure, I feel the loneliness of being the only such project in the Southeast. And at the same time, our eight-year old collective faces many of the same economic pressures that made sustaining the Internationalist (which had also just transitioned to a new location) impossible.
For the second time since April, we've had to choose between paying rent and paying ourselves, and members of our collective have routinely chosen to forgo compensation to help our co-op through it's financially challenging first year in West Asheville. How should a radical, cooperative business like Firestorm create space for the community to materially support its existence? This is one of the questions we're asking ourselves as we consider the contradiction of facing a lingering financial crisis while surrounded by a loving, engaged community that is eager to help.
We'll miss you Internationalist. May your next incarnation be as authentic, influential, and beautiful as the last! <3