Friday, February 12, 2010

Red Emma's celebrates 5 years of worker self-management

Red Emma's, Baltimore's only unionized, collectively-run bookstore and coffeehouse, celebrated its five year anniversary in November 2009.

Since its inception, Red Emma's has hosted hundreds of speakers and extolled the virtues of fairly traded coffee, worker ownership, vegan and vegetarian deliciousness, and eye-opening literature. In March 2009, Red Emma's co-sponsored, along with the Baltimore Development Cooperative, the Indypendent Reader, campbaltimore, and the Campaign for a Better Baltimore, the City From Below conference which featured strategies for organized resistance in cities across America (and beyond). The conference took place at 2640, Red Emma's sister-space for large scale events, managed in partnership with the Saint John's Methodist church at 2640 Saint Paul St.

This summer also saw the birth of a new Red Emma's project, the Baltimore Free School, located at 1323 N. Calvert St at Mount Royal. This space offers free courses to the Baltimore community, and anyone is welcome to teach a course or lead a workshop on any skill or subject. September saw the return of the Radical Bookfair Pavillion at the Baltimore Book Festival, which featured tablers of radical presses and local booksellers, as well as some incredible speakers such as Amiri Baraka, Andrej Grubacic, and Bill Ayers, among others. The Pavillion was a great opportunity to introduce Red Emma's to the greater Baltimore community as well as expose residents to some radical ideas about a number of issues. And finally, in the winter, Red Emma's again teamed up with the Baltimore Development Cooperative to launch the STEW series, a monthly-or-so fundraising dinner held at 2640 in which participants directly decide which of the community/arts organizations presenting between dinner courses receive the proceeds of the evening. This gives diners the opportunity to make direct connections between where their donated money goes and the organizers trying to sustain wonderful projects in and around Baltimore, all over a 4 course meal of delicious, locally sourced food. All in all, 2009 was a busy year of organizing and growth for the Red Emma's collective, and 2010 shows no signs of slowing down. Onward!!

Red Emma's is located at 800 Saint Paul St in the Mount Vernon neighborhood. Weekly collective business meetings are held every Sunday at 6 pm (except the first Sunday of the month) and are open to anyone interested in learning more about the project or looking to get involved. For more information, check out

Photo: Baltimore Citypaper

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