Taste a better way and move towards it
When I started this magazine (along with Will Braun, Darryl Brown, Miriam Meinders and others) I had envisioned a “radical” workplace.
I was fresh off a two-year stint at Adbusters magazine, where I discovered a new way of seeing the world as an oppressive and toxic cocktail of business, entertainment, politics, militarism, consumerism, education, art and religion. I wanted some people of faith (especially Christians comfortable with power) to hear this critique. I also wanted people who are struggling for alternatives to gain a sense of connectedness and have a forum for discerning a better way.
Because part of me is a follower of Jesus, I have already seen and tasted a new world where love and kindness overcome hatred and bitterness. I’m juvenile again and believe compassion is the secret ingredient in all major religions and the path to enlightenment.
Because part of me is also a follower of Gandhi, I want to – here comes the platitude – be the change that I want to see in the world. Some call it a theology of incarnation, others call it a demonstration plot (Clarence Jordan), or the coming community (Georgio Agamben).
My Buddhist and contemplative Christian friends have helped me taste a future bliss that is here, in the midst of this toxic culture. But don’t trust me – a rich, white, heterosexual, over-educated man – to lead you there. Go see for yourself. Move toward those who suffer (including other animals) and discover exposed strands of the eternal. A new courage is here, the courage to resist an oppressor because you stand on the triumphant side of light against darkness … I feel a sermon coming on.
I’ve tasted a better way and need to embody it. This keeps me striving to be part of a workplace that is not dehumanizing or alienating (to use Marxist terms), but empowering and humanizing (in the revolutionary terms of Paulo Freire and E.F. Schumacher).
We started with high aspirations for the Geez workplace: no one is boss over another, workers do things in which they believe, grunt work gets shared, everyone gets the same rate of pay, thumb our noses at advertisers, resist pressure from big donors, come and go when we please, use recycled things as much as possible (paper, computers, chairs, desks, ideas), adapt to doing things the slow way (like take bikes instead of cars), and support other worker-cooperatives. In other words, be the inefficient change you want to see in the world.
Be the inefficient change you want to see in the world.
That’s a tall order. And guess what? We’re not able to do everything. We’re still ad-free, supported by subscribers and donors (grants amount to less than 10 percent of our budget), abide by a no-fly policy, flat pay scale and consensus decision-making process. Most significantly, we’ve moved the office out of our house (yay!) and into an old, inner-city church that is engaged in the community.
In the past four years, however, our practices have also become more conventional. We’ve formed a governing board, incorporated as a non-profit, and are seeking charity status. This is a fundamental compromise, obliging us to conform to many status quo business practices (read about some of the downsides of the “non-profit industrial complex” on page 32).
I see us as nimble actors, exploiting legal opportunities and being transparent about compromises. I also see us as limited human beings, not fulfilling every aspect of a utopian vision. Compassion is also available to those who fall short of their goals. This is not an excuse, it’s simply a loving acceptance of what is.
New in this issue
To give readers a broader selection of material, and to share the load with volunteer section editors, we’ve expanded our Experiments and News sections. Also, because culture is such a powerful vehicle for change, we’ve added sections for Reviews and “Culturosities.” In the table of contents (a new feature added last issue) we’ve also highlighted our regular columnists. Nicholas Klassen, our “Soapboxer,” takes swipes at our earnestness, and Carrie S. Martin, the Pastor’s wife, reminds us that there’s a lighter side to even the most serious Pastor’s family life.
Call for Experiments
My favourite section in this magazine is Experiments (see page 54). Here we have stories of people trying out new ways of thinking, acting and being. Did you try growing your own vegetables or going a week without electricity? We want to hear about it and spread the word. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aiden Enns is the editor of Geez magazine. He can be reached at editor[at]geezmagazine.org or (204) 772-9610.