After a winter of meetings, brain storms and networking, Spring (the season) brought to Baile Átha Cliath an InfoShop collective, blossoming in the shape of the first Radical Book Fair. The Fair was held in Connolly Hall on a Saturday afternoon last February. The InfoShop's own bookstall sat with Trinity Students' Union bookshop, an unstaffed lesbian/gay/bisexual information table and the stalls of several ultra-left groups (Class War, Organise, the Workers' Solidarity Movement, Red Action). Down the back there was soup, coffee and teas, and a large low table loaded with coloured paper, crayons and kids. In a corner a guy playing guitar. The place was full and mellow. People were talking to each other.
Then there were bookstalls at a couple of gigs in The Furnace and outside the Bank of Ireland during the May Day parade. The selection of books and magazines ran from anarchism to zen, via ecology, feminism, peace, riots and tripping. Mid-May saw another Radical Book Fair in Connolly Hall, with most of the groups back again, joined by Comhar, the hunt sabs, MsChief, the Ballymurphy 7 campaign, Radio Active and the Trinity Greens. The crayon table was replaced by face painting and stories read in the backyard.
Some of them are not quite trustworthy (pushing thirty), some of them barely old enough to spoil their votes. Many of them have brewed up in squats from Sweden to Spain and been involved in radical campaign groups from the mountains of Guatemala westwards to Berlin, demanding land, clean water, free abortion, the decriminalisation of all drugs, sexual freedom, the end of the war, ten day festivals and quiet places to meditate. Some of them have long hair and some of them have hardly any hair at all. They have walked across deserts and flown the Atlantic with Aeroflot. They live in Dublin, most of the time, and they want an InfoShop somewhere between the canals, a centre where the radical literature currently unavailable in Dublin can be read, borrowed and bought, where local and global information now likewise unavailable can be found in message books, on noticeboards and in a properly organised archive. A centre where you can get a cheap cup of coffee that doesn't come from death squad economies, where you can find out what's going down. A quiet room where people teaching literacy can meet the people they are teaching. Where on a certain night there is a women's café, on another a cabaret or a seminar on the air we breathe. A conspiracy room open to all. A place to be borrowed and shared by any group trying for a free world.
The InfoShop is inspired by various such outfits seen in other cities, to be adapted to suit the building the collective finds and the desires of the people who come to it. For the last six months they have been raising money, spreading the idea and involving new people. Now they want a space with walls, windows, a roof and a door. And more people.
Tanya Drum is an InfoShop activist who worked with Emmet Grogan in San Francisco
An Caorthann (The Rowan Tree)
Irish green-alternative magazine
Editor: Laurence Cox
Web weaver: Anna Mazzoldi