We’re living in a world flooded with online educations and oversaturated blogs, thus SoapBox Books offers an intimate and personal experience for the modern scholar. SoapBox is Cincinnati’s first infoshop, and opened its doors in Northside just over a year ago in May of 2013. The shop is housed in the Village Green Foundation cooperative space alongside the MoBo bicycle co-op at 1415 Knowlton Street, and distributes alternative books, zines, and other educational information.
The shop is completely volunteer-driven.
“Mostly activists and students who’d been introduced to radical perspectives in a variety of ways,” spells out SoapBox co-founder and volunteer Robert Inhuman. “We’re entirely volunteer-operated, with resistance to hierarchy in our mission statement. There is usually a core of our most consistent volunteers, but people come and go often based on their availability and what else is happening in their lives.”
“We always need more volunteers,” Robert pleads. “And it mainly just means hanging out during whatever open hours you’re available, answering any questions, and just locking the place up afterwards.”
What makes volunteer efforts at SoapBox so rewarding is its non-hierarchy approach, which allows everyone an equal say in shaping the infoshop itself. “You define its use,” explains Robert. “Beyond open hours, volunteers are always of great aid when our team is doing events. Tabling literature, organizing at other venues, rallying people to check things out, or just having fun with us.”
A great example of SoapBox culture, and how it reaches beyond its hours of operation, is Robert’s monthly DIY calendar. You’ve probably seen it in a variety of places around Cincinnati, because it’s created and distributed by SoapBox volunteers Robert Inhuman and Josh (otherwise known as “They Are Us”). Each month, Robert collects events from indie promoters and activists, then implores a local artist to create an original event calendar with artistic flare to be distributed throughout the city-and widely promoted via social media. The calendar represents a multitude of events, creative conglomerates, artists, and venues that co-exist throughout the greater Cincinnati area; the antithesis of “there’s never anything to do”.
Robert reflects on SoapBox’s accomplishments in its first year of life. ”I think we’ve had a few very motivational events in our first year. Queer Power last October at Hoffner Lodge comes to mind. Insurgent Theatre’s play and documentary about police and prisons, hosted at Semantics Gallery in December, was fantastic, as well. June 11th just happened again, which is an annual effort for Solidarity with Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners; one of my favorites to work on because it offers a prompt to endorse vehement ecodefense and animal liberation. These events often attract a wide variety of ages, backgrounds, and orientations of many sorts; anything in Cincinnati that has the power to radicalize, uphold a positive Anarchist stance, and break through apathy in favor of compassion and confronting oppression in all its forms. This is what I see as a great thing and how I define the right path. Soapbox will always be a work in progress, as life itself ought to be, and I’m happy to participate and experiment with it.”
For more information regarding SoapBox’s hours of operation, volunteer opportunities, initiatives, and events, visit their official website at www.soapboxbooks.org.
By Nick Mitchell