Andy at desk across from Lydia’s
Chris’s desk in the ZNet office
Lydia emcees ZMI 2010 start
Michael teaching parecon
“Noam Day” at the local library
Socializing behind the Z House
Class in the Den with Chris
A typical day’s schedule at ZMI
Group wrap-up, final day
Closing night project group
Graduation ZMI 2010
From time to time we like to give our readers a glimpse behind the scenes at Z’s main office in Woods Hole and something about the four staff that work there and the fifth who works an hour away in Dedham, Massachusetts.
This seems a good time for such a journal entry, particularly as there is always a certain amount of confusion over the summer because (a) we produce a double summer issue (July/August, Number 7/8); (b) we take July off, which means we are difficult to reach in order to find out, after receiving your summer issue in July, when your August issue will arrive. New subscribers who sign up after June 12 call to ask when they will get their first issue and aren’t able to find out that it won’t start until September. Libraries seem the most confused, constantly sending in claims for the August issue.
A further confusion occurs in the years we hold Z Media Institute (ZMI) in early June, because this eight-day event pushes production and mailing of the summer issue back about two weeks. This summer, for no reason we can determine, the July/August issue arrived as late as July 29 even though it was mailed on July 6.
So for those understandably confused, please bear with us. We produce a double summer issue so we can take July off. While working at Z, a non-hierarchical collective, with fairly balanced job complexes, has to be one of the better jobs that radicals could ever have (or anyone, for that matter), we still get exhausted and need to visit with families and not think about the painful state of the world, which we have been documenting month after month. Plus, we live on a pond (with access to Vineyard Sound) in a beautiful tourist area on Cape Cod, within walking distance of the beach. So we’re not suffering, far from it, but we need that July vacation. Especially in the years when we have ZMI, which is a wonderful, but exhausting event as the Z staff are not only the organizers of the event, but part of the faculty as well.
Let’s be clear, by vacation we mean that we still do work—producing videos, maintaining the website, writing books—we just don’t answer the phone or have a magazine deadline. This July, Chris covered the second U.S. Social Forum at the end of June in Detroit (see his report in this issue) and then stayed on to visit with friends while he managed the ZNet site from afar. Michael worked on ZNet and kayaked. Andy visited with friends in Oregon where he lived for some years before coming to work at Z and then traveled to Georgia to visit his family. But he checked his emails and kept in touch. Eric prepared Z‘s subscriber list for a renewal mailing and spent more time with his three children. Lydia checked emails daily and rehearsed for her role as Maude in the Woods Hole Theater Company’s summer production of the stage version of Harold and Maude (based on the 1971 film) while enjoying visits from six grandchildren and trips to the beach.
Z Media Institute 2010
When we started ZMI in 1994, it was a yearly event until 1999 when we changed it to every other year, mainly because it’s a lot of work. This year’s ZMI was as fantastic as all the others have been, perhaps more so. Forty-five students came from all over the U.S., as well as Canada, Spain, France, Finland, Latvia, the UK, India, and Bangladesh. They arrive exhausted and then we ask them to spend eight days attending classes from 8:45 AM until 10:00 PM (see sample schedule). In addition, we ask them to become part of a student media or organizing project group with the task of creating a model institution, the details of which they will present to us on the final night—both in print of video format, combined with a dramatization or musical accompaniment.
Of course, classes are in living rooms, dens, community halls, sheds, and, some years, even in kitchens, which makes for a more informal atmosphere. Plus, we’re surrounded by water and science buildings and ships and boats of all sizes so somehow it all seems to work because the humor and good natured participation is evident from the first evening’s orientation through what’s become known as "Chomsky Day" through a hip-hop performance on participatory economics by Lonnie Atkinson (ZMI 2003) through the night when students and faculty tell moving (and humorous) accounts of why they became radical and what keeps them going through the entertaining and talented project group presentations at graduation. The photos included here tell the story.
You may not realize it, but Z Magazine print subscribers have access to Z Magazine Online (ZMO). However, you need to sign up through our website in order to get access. If you are a print subscriber and do not yet have access, you can email [email protected] with your name, an email address and password that you would like to use for your online Z account. (Instructions and links are also available at the ZMO part of our site.)
A year ago we put out an emergency call to our subscribers and Sustainers to help us raise $150,000. You responded generously and those donations have helped keep Z operating through 2010 and hopefully into 2011. But, like most other progressive media, we would be more secure if a few thousand more of you become sustainers and/or subscribers. The Sustainer program is currently helping to fund all of Z’s operations and is key to our long-term plans. Sustainers agree to donate a regular amount of money to Z, according to a schedule and rate that the Sustainer chooses. (Various options are available online.) Sustainers then have access to blogs, forums, interactive tutorials, and their own Z Space pages, as well as Z Magazine Online.
Upcoming Holiday Sale
Throughout the years, we have offered subscribers the chance to buy gift subscriptions for friends at "outrageous" discounts. This is a perfect way to take care of your gift list while helping Z reach new people who will, we hope, become regular subscribers and in turn buy gifts for their friends. Look for our new fall offer in the October issue as well as a video sale at outrageous discounts, including the Chomsky Sessions (a perfect gift), which have sold thousands of copies to date. We will also have new videos available from Z Media Institute’s many sessions, including "Chomsky Day at ZMI."
We hope you had a wonderful summer, in spite of the many troubling world events. We look forward to bringing you Z Magazine for its 24th year.
Z house/office photos are by Lydia Sargent. ZMI photos are by Antti Jauhiainen and Edgar Ziverts.