Sat. Feb. 4th 6:00 – 8:00 pm The Dispossessed – book discussion of the 1974 scifi classic by Ursula Le Guin!

On the bleak moon, Anarres, utopian anarchists have created a new society far removed from the war-torn poverty-stricken planet, Urras. But then a curious scientist pursues a dream of reuniting the societies.

This is the first in a new series on anarchist speculative fiction, hosted by the Madison Infoshop!


The Potential to Storm Heaven – Madison Infoshop screening and discussion of a documentary about the 2008 Greek Insurrection – 8 pm Sat. July 23rd at the SJC (1202 Williamson St.)

Two policemen shoot against a group of youngsters in the heart of the Exarcheia district of central Athens, an area with a long history of insurrection against authority and riots for socio-economic and political grounds, inhabited mainly by anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and liberals. A police bullet kills 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. Outside of Greece, solidarity demonstrations, riots, and clashes with local police also take place in more than 70 cities around the world, including London, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Dublin, Berlin, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Sao Paulo, Nicosia, and Paphos, proving that people could spread the news and react through protests for the same struggle around the globe. We will also watch a short 12 minute documentary about the city of Exarcheia in Greece for context beforehand.


Sun. June 18th 8:00 pm Screening of Riotsville USA, preceded by community recovered food grillout starting 4:00 pm – SJC (1202 Willy St.)

Riotsville USA documents community resistance to construction of a simulated police training ground known as “Cop City” in Atlanta, GA – a costly project that threatens to wipe out nearly 400 acres of trees and wildlife in one of the oldest natural forests in North America. After the film there will be a discussion about the militarization of police and alternatives.


Cooperation Can Save the World – Spring 2020 Free Skool Series!

Wed. March 11th 6:00 pm Mutual Aid Workspace (MAW), Social Justice Center (1202 Williamson St.)  Join us for our second session exploring the theory, history, and praxis of cooperation. What is the Commons? Who is Elinor Ostrom? (hint – she was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics!) Why did the United Nations declare 2012 to be the Year of the Co-op? How could cooperation be more efficient, productive, and equitable than competition? Feel free to bring food to share for an informal potluck beforehand!


New “Protect the Great Lakes” Sturgeon t-shirts available!

Thanks to artist, Susan Simensky Bietila, and in solidarity with our many native allies fighting corporate resource extraction across the Great Lakes including the proposed Back Forty Mine on the Menominee River between Northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Madison Infoshop is proud to make available this t-shirt featuring our beloved sturgeon – an ancient indigenous fish whose future is now in doubt. These Made in USA light blue T-shirts are $20 each (+5 for postage) and come in S, M, L, XL, XXL sizes. Portion of the proceeds will go towards the No Back Forty Mine struggle. If you wish to order more than five t-shirts, please check with us about a wholesale discount. You can pay by check – send to Madison Infoshop, 1202 Williamson St., Madison WI 53703  by making the appropriate donation amount via credit card at:  http://familyfarmers.org/   Thanks for protecting the Great Lakes!


Mon. Nov. 11th 6:30 pm Mutual Aid Workspace, Social Justice Center (1202 Willliamson St.) Radical Utopias – Imagined, Real & Potential – Kickoff Session of the Fall 2019 Madison Free Skool Discussion Series!

This week we will discuss the Paris Commune, Christiana in Denmark, Rojava in Syria, Oceti Sakowin at Standing Rock, and other Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZs). Informal potluck starts at 6:00 pm.

Climate chaos and mass extinction got you down? Tired of social oppression and state terrorism? Well, to quote the famous Indian writer/activist Arundhati Roy, “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” For millennia, people have created societies of their own choosing – from pirate communes, quilombos, and the Civil War era Free State of Jones to today’s eco-municipalities, temporary autonomous zones (think Oaxaca, Standing Rock, or Rojava) and longtime anarchist communities like Christiania in Denmark. If the proverbial crap hits the fan, could Madison transform itself into a self-sufficient intentional cooperative safespace or would we become just another Mad Max episode in humanity’s social devolution.

Future sessions held alternate Mondays: 11/25 & 12/5.

For more info, visit the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/478177126352569/


Madison Infoshop Collective Meeting – Mon. Sept. 9th 5:30 pm – Mutual Aid Workspace (MAW) in the Social Justice Center (1202 Williamson St.)

Help us create our new home in the Mutual Aid Workspace (MAW) at the Social Justice Center and plan future Infoshop events, including discussion of our proposed Fall 2019 Free Skool discussion series on UTOPIAS!

If you have any ideas of what the Infoshop should be doing, please come and share your ideas.  We are excited about being in our new space and are eager for some creative synergy.

New folks are most welcome!


Check Out Sharefest! Sat. May 4th Noon – 3 pm Social Justice Center (1202 Willy St.)!

The theme of this spring’s Sharefest is Growing Abundance! Let’s put our energy into what we want to grow – whether that’s literal (plants) or metaphorical (human connection & resilience & skills).

There will be a potluck brunch, workshops with hands-on opportunities to build & create; plant/seed swap & stuff swap; connections with other members of the Social Justice Center, as well as chance to learn more about TimeBanking and sign up, if you haven’t already! The Madison Infoshop’s button maker will be in full swing!

Sharefest workshops include: Oatmilk Making, Coop Development, Posh Life Design, Know Your Rights, Zero Waste, Everywhere Gardens, Bird/Bee Houses and more. And this day will launch our ongoing Library of Things/ Swap we’re creating in our (becoming-) lovely lower level.

At 3:00 pm we’ll toast the major contributors to the Social Justice Center. Join us to celebrate – and consider making a contribution yourself! We want to welcome you to the transformed SJC to see our newly-improved hub of social justice in action.

Info? Visit the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2090873474545033/


Madison Infoshop’s 2019 “Reclaim the Commons” Seed Swap is OPEN – 1202 Williamson St.!

In celebration of Ground Hog Day and the eventual coming of Spring, the Madison Infoshop – in conjunction with the Mutual Aid Workspace (MAW) at the Social Justice Center (1202 Williamson St.) – would like to invite the community to participate in our 2019 “Reclaim the Commons” Seed Swap! Local heirloom and open pollinated varieties are preferred, hybrids will be “tolerated,” while patented genetically engineered seeds are most “unwelcome.”

It is also good to note that older seeds (3+ years) will have poorer germination rates (50-70%) but are certainly worth trying if you wish. While visiting the Madison Infoshop, be sure to check out our array of free zines on seed saving, agroecology, organic gardening, making compost, and the like, as well as the related book titles in our lending library available for check-out.

Seeds are a treasure that belong to everyone, so thanks for joining this collective effort at reclaiming our heritage!

 


This Labor Day Don’t Forget Those Working Behind Bars – The Dirty Underbelly of the U.S. Prison Labor Industrial Complex

By: John E. Peck, Madison Infoshop (IWW I.U. 620)

This summer tv screens have been dominated by heroic images of firefighters battling blazes in California and elsewhere. The mass media largely ignored that these wild fires are a deadly consequence of climate change. Unbeknownst to many, as well, is the fact that over 2000 inmates (including 50 youth offenders) are among the ranks of the firefighters on the frontline, risking life and limb to save others, even as they prepared to head back to their own cells. A CA state official was caught bragging that this move saved taxpayers $100 million per year since the inmates are only paid $1 per hour (plus $2 per day) with the possibility of mandatory 72 hour shifts.

On Aug. 23rd prisoners in 17 states across the U.S. launched a nation-wide strike demanding an end to prison slavery, poor living conditions, and death by incarceration. Organized by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak and the IWW’s own Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), among others, the strike began on the anniversary of the death of George Jackson and is expected to last until the anniversary of the Attica Prison Uprising. The strike was called in response to the death of seven inmates and a prison-wide lockdown resulting from inhumane conditions at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina in April. A similar nationwide prison strike in 2016 that began at Holman Prison in AL quickly spread to involve 24,000 inmates in 24 states.

The Food Chain Workers Alliance is among a growing group of allies in this most recent strike, in part because prisoners are exploited by agribusiness when other labor is not available. For example, when Colorado cracked down on undocumented migrant farmworkers, guess who was tapped to pick produce instead? Minimum-security female prisoners from the La Vista Correctional Facility in Pueblo, CO were outsourced to hoe and weed fields of cabbages, onions, and melons for $4 per hour (though the farmers paid the state $9.60 per hour for their labor). Over 30.000 inmates work in the nation’s food service sector, which is already notorious for lousy wages and oppressive working conditions. Would you like some more abuse with your side of fries?

As Azurra Crispino, cofounder of the Prison Abolition Prisoner Support(PAPS), another supporter of the latest strike, noted, “The reason prisons exist is not to keep anyone safe — but because money gets made from prisons. So they’re saying, look, if the reason you have us locked up is because we make you a ton of money, then if we strike and you give us minimum wage, we won’t make you a ton of money anymore. And that will ultimately lead to reform for decarceration and prison abolition.”

This reality is hardly lost on prisoners themselves. To quote one WI inmate’s letter printed in IWOC’s Sept. 2016 Voices from Behind Wisconsin Prison Gates newsletter: “The State of Wisconsin has capitalized off of incarcerating inmates—this includes the county jails, the courts and the prisons. It is no secret that D.O.C. is a billion dollar business—we are an assembly line to them… The prisons would cease to function without the collective effort of the inmates. If all the inmates refused to work statewide, the WI prison system would die.”

One of the key demands of the current prison strike is that all those imprisoned in the US. be paid the prevailing wage in their current state or territory for their labor. Contrary to popular belief, prisoners are not paid minimum wage for their work while incarcerated, and this cheap docile labor force is conveniently exploited by corporations to undercut unions, labor rules, and other regulations to obtain an advantage in the “free market.”. Ever wonder why Starbucks, or McDonalds, or Whole Foods or AT&T can be so profitable – perhaps it is because they exploit prisoners at less than $2 per hour to bag their coffee, make their uniforms, raise tilapia, or answer service calls… On average, prison wages have declined nationally over the last fifteen years – from an average daily wage of $4.73 in 2001 to $3.45 in 2017 – and in several states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Texas) inmates are often paid nothing for their work. Sounds a lot like modern day slavery…

After the horrific Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, BP naturally turned to prison labor as a cheap source of clean-up help. Known as “the inmate state,” Louisiana has the highest rate of incarceration in the U.S. with 70% of its inmates being African-American men. Since the state only has beds for half of its inmates, it makes sense to outsource them to private companies like BP which pay them at most forty cents an hour. Under the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit, private-sector employers get $2,400 for every work release inmate they hire. On top of that, they can earn back up to 40 percent of the wages they pay annually to “target group workers.”

Here in Wisconsin we have over 20,000 inmates (twice as many at MN which has a comparable overall population and crime rate) in nearly 40 facilities that cost taxpayers $1 billion+ year to operate, more than the entire state budget devoted to the UW college system. When Waupun was established in the 1850s, the state’s oldest prison, it was constructed with prison labor by legislative decree. Legend has it that the first WI inmates literally built their own cells and then walked inside and shut the doors. Today, inmates at Waupun milk cows for the state, earning from 50 cents to $1.50 per hour. Last year, Wisconsin’s three prison dairies alone earned taxpayers more than $5 million – you can savor their hard work next time you enjoy a Babcock Hall ice cream cone at UW-Madison. Over 1600 WI inmates actually pay the state $740 per month for the privilege of being in work release programs.

Badger State industries was established in 1913 as a means to outsource WI prison labor to the private sector. There are now 11 operations in 10 state prisons using inmate labor to do everything from printing and making furniture to recycling and license plates. Many local governments are following the DOC example. For instance, Racine County intends to outsource all of its landscaping, painting, and snow shoveling jobs that used to be done by unionized workers to its prisoners.

Some have argued that employing prison labor provides valuable vocational skills that will be useful once inmates re-enter society. This ignores the fact that many of them face such long sentences they will never enjoy the freedom to utilize the supposed job skills they gained. Others, because of their criminal record, have few good options once they get out – many of the prisoners fighting fires in CA can’t even be hired to do the same job as civilians.

For those involved in the contemporary prison abolition movement, the struggle that began over 150 years ago to end slavery is still ongoing. Genocidal conquest and violent industrialization – the bloody hallmarks of the U.S. “success story” – could not have occurred without the capitalist exploitation of forced labor – both slaves and prisoners. My own ancestors who came to the U.S. as undocumented immigrants fleeing a neocolonial 19th century “famine” in Ireland were unwitting victims of this imperial project. If they had not come as indentured servants, they could just as easily have come as convict chattel. Over 50,000 prisoners were used to originally colonize Virginia and Maryland alone.

Today the US imprisons five times as many people per capita as any other industrialized country – well over 2.3 million are now trapped as human cogs running the machine of our prison labor industrial complex. Those who have seen the movie 13th will know quite well that slavery has persisted in the U.S. long after the Emancipation Declaration issued by Pres. Lincoln during the Civil War. Forced labor is still allowed under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” As we celebrate Labor Day amidst a nationwide prison strike, let us not forget all those behind bars who have little or no choice about whether or not they will ever get to enjoy the fruits of their own labor.

For more info, visit: https://incarceratedworkers.org/