As printed media struggles financially and the diversity of the world’s free press diminishes, small publications like the Transition Free Press make their way through the cracks. It’s key, we feel, that the presses keep rolling and our home-grown news is physical and visible and goes places that on-line media cannot reach. Here one of TFP’s founders, Mike Grenville, discusses why in an interview this week for International Permaculture Day.
Like CSAs and local businesses everywhere, small publishing ventures need the support and backing of regular customers. We are not mega-corporations with slick marketing operations and big budgets, we are a group of hard-working creative people starting from scratch on the kitchen table. So our community-supported media requires the same generosity and loyalty people show towards community gardens, people’s kitchens or food coops.
A Social Enterprise
Alongside many Transition projects within a REconomic frame, TFP is a social enterprise, so the paper needs to pay for the work that goes into creating it, as well as printing costs. If our paper were a loaf of bread, you might not question giving £1 for an honest, artisan loaf. So maybe a good way to look at this kind of home-grown comms is to see it as real crafted editorial. You can’t exactly eat our words, but one thing we are sure of: grassroots news is good food for the mind and heart!
While mainstream media are forced to squeeze staff, cut freelance rates and often push a hostile and corporate agenda, we look resiliently and in an earth-friendly way at what is happening in the fields of energy and food, transport and education. We look for the big untold narrative under the radar and report on how local action is changing the world as the strapline for Rob Hopkins’ new book, The Power of Just Doing Stuff, goes. How we can turn the ship around in our individual and community lives.
Our distributors – individuals, Transition Initiatives and local businesses – undertake to buy a bundle, so they can sell the papers and recoup their costs, as well as make some profit to plough back into their own publications. TIs in Lewes, Bristol, Bungay and other places all create their own newsletters this way and sell alongside the national edition in farmers markets, local shops, cafes, at Transition events and summer festivals.
We are not alone in our against-the-flow comms either. Last month also saw the launch of the printed version of the excellent on-line magazine STIR. TFP’s Jay Tompt writes about REconomy in a Transition Network column in this latest issue and editor, Charlotte Du Cann reviews Barbara Kingsolver’s novel about climate change and poverty in the Appalachian mountains, Flight Behaviour. You can find STIR in selected outlets and also, like our TFP, by subscription.
So dear reader, do support us all where you can. If you see a copy do buy one and pass on the news to a place or a person who might benefit from a liberating read! Leave one in your library or local cafe, or give to a friend or colleague. Or if you are not near a TFP hub, we’d love you to be one of our subscribers. Let’s grow and cook up this emergent culture together!
Images: community baked bread baked at Can Piella, photograph by Phillip Evans; cover of summer issue of STIR