Next week Tuesday (June 26), the Bloom Collective, a new Grand Rapids infoshop and lending library, will open its doors to the public. The space–located at 1134 Wealthy St SE–will host a vegan potluck beginning at 6:30pm. Folks are encouraged to bring a dish to pass or just to stop by and enjoy the food while browsing the selection of books, videos, and DVDs for available for checkout. In addition, there is a small selection of books, magazines, buttons, and art for sale
The Bloom Collective offers a large selection of media for checkout in an effort to encourage organizing for social change. The majority of the materials–covering topics including feminism, race, US foreign policy, war, anarchism, history, and more–are published by independent publishing houses and are largely unavailable elsewhere in Grand Rapids. The Collective believes that sharing these resources locally is one of the many ways in which we can inspire change and promote equality. Moreover, it is hoped that the Bloom Collective–with space for flyers and volunteers familiar with activism in Grand Rapids–will grow to be a hub for people interested in getting involved in social change efforts. Additionally, the Bloom Collective will serve as a workspace for Media Mouse and the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID).
The Bloom Collective is an infoshop, a type of library and information with origins in the European left movements. While their history is somewhat uncertain, infoshops are widely believed to have originated in Germany as part of the large anarchist and squatter movement that existing in the 1980s. These European centers inspired the creation of infoshops in the United States, although according to anarchist Chuck Munson, infoshops in the United States can also trace their history to the peace and justice centers that developed in the 1960s and 1970s to promote organizing against the Vietnam War. While some in the anarchist and radical movements have argued that the number of infoshops peaked in the late 1990s, several still exist in North America (and last year a new network formed to help connect infoshops to each other for the purpose of sharing resources and learning from each other. In recent years several infoshops have opened in Michigan, including Brighter Days in Lansing, Idle Kids and No Borders in Detroit, and the Mosaic in Grand Rapids–all of which are now defunct–as well as the recently opened the Northstar Center in Lansing. Around the country, infoshops continue to serve as valuable centers for grassroots activism.
More information about The Bloom Collective, including the online catalog, can be found at www.mediamouse.org/library/.