George Orwell Resource Center
by Josh Sullivan and the George Orwell Collective
The George Orwell Resource Center, set to open May 1 in downtown St. Petersburg, will offer resources for grassroots community organizing. The Resource Center will house a lending library of non-corporate media and a radical book and record distribution. It also will include an independent media center that covers topics often ignored by the mainstream media, such as censorship, the environment and Native American and African-American history.
The mission of the Resource Center is to empower and motivate individuals to question and challenge oppressive social structures and to build a sustainable community based on self-determination, mutual aid, voluntary cooperation and respect for all life.
Goals of the GORC will be to have a lending library, archive and media resources for social issues. Eventually, there will be a free school consisting of workshops, study groups and speakers. The Center will be a place for accessible cutural events including art shows, video showings, concerts and public forums.
The art community is going to benefit drastically from the presence of the Resource Center in the community. The free school will be a place for local artists to share their skills with the public. Members of the art community will have the opportunity to help plan and paint a mural to be displayed at the center. A dark room for prospective photographers and members of the community to use has been discussed. If you want to learn about pottery, there are plans to have a pottery wheel, too!
One of the first art-related events planned is an auction of works donated by local artists such as photographers, painters, cartoonists, sculptors, etc. This will give artists a chance not only to help out the Resource Center but also to exhibit their work to the community. Donations are being accepted now. Call (727) 723-2612 for more information.
Another artistic event the Resource Center is organizing is the FILM maniFESTival on April 28 at Vitale Bros. Artworx in Pinellas Park. The fest will include films by local and independent filmmakers, including one entitled "Killing Time..." that appeared in the Sundance Film Festival in January. The fest offers an opportunity for up-and-coming artists to display their work and for community organizations such as the American Indian Movement to present videos related to issues they are addressing. It is also a chance for the community to come together for an exciting social event.
Looking for the independent publications you won't be able to find at the newsstand? It's a sure bet that the George Orwell Resource Center will have it. There will be newspapers, zines and all sorts of other material pertaining to a wide variety of subjects, such as the role art has played in activism over the years with the use of puppets, billboards, hand-outs illustrated to convey messages, etc.
The indie media center will fill people in on what the newspapers and major news magazines will most likely leave out. The popular media is owned by huge, multinational corporations that are concerned more with their profits than with fully informing the public. This brings about a serious need for a center such as this to be opened in the Tampa Bay area.
Some goals of the Resource Center's indie media center will be local reporting of uncovered issues as news sources for current independent media along with a local IMC Web site. There is going to be a local independent media newsletter or newspaper containing information and statistics obtained through close work with Society for Humane Living, an organization that educates the public about social issues.
Membership in the George Orwell Resource Center will be available on a sliding scale of $20 to $100 annually, depending on ability to pay. Scholarships will be available to low-income individuals. Members of the George Orwell Resource Center will receive notice of events and discounts on those events, 10% discounts on saleable merchandise and a membership card. Only members will be allowed to check out books from the lending library.
The George Orwell Collective, the non-hierarchical decision-making body organizing the Resource Center, meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 8 p.m. Meetings are in St. Petersburg at 610 8th St. N, upstairs, and are open to the public. Please e-mail Lauren at email@example.com for directions. Check out: http://www.GeorgeOrwellResourceCenter.org for added info on upcoming fundraisers and a pledge card you can fill out to donate money to help the Center open on time. There is a wish list, too, of things such as appliances, books, magazines and art supplies that the Resource Center needs. For more info about the Resource Center or the Collective, e-mail GeorgeOrwellResourceCenter@yahoo.com.