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Cliff Notes May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2

Socialist Mission


The woodsy and serene Student Center seems an unlikely place for a political collective. Yet there’s an important piece of UCSD history tucked between the UCSD Bike Shop and Grove Caffe. The Groundwork Bookstore, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, was founded as a collective in Solana Beach in 1974 and was relocated to the new Student Center at UCSD in 1975.

Groundwork’s activist goals have remained constant over the years. The co-operative bookstore presents itself as a “political collective and non-profit bookstore working towards social change” and operates and advocates accordingly.

For example, potential workers first must volunteer and study the “Red Docs,” which explains the socialist mission of the collective, before joining the bookstore’s staff. All decisions are made on a collective-opinion basis.

Students may only know Groundwork as the “other” bookstore where they can pick up assigned texts. But besides doing brisk textbook business, Groundwork stocks literature on everything from film theory to “herstory” (as opposed to history), and media to art criticism.

According to collective member Adriana Guajuardo, a master’s student in Latin American studies, faculty and community members frequent the aisles year-round.

Manuals such as Guide to Affirmative Action, How to End Sweatshops, and Songs of Protests are available for borrowing on the small “Groundwork Library” shelf. Groundwork also sponsors a “Books for Prisoners” program, in which customers can donate old books to benefit the incarcerated, and actively champions anti-corporate control and social justice ideals. It recently organized a week of educational events on the history of indigenous resistance in Mexico, based on the Zapatista ideologies.

Says collective member Veronicah House,“It’s about a socialist consciousness... it becomes a space where we can work together and empower each other.”

Last fall, Groundwork and the other co-operatives on campus became mired in disputes with the administration over the renewal of their leases and were faced with the threat of contract termination and even eviction. A definitive agreement has yet to be determined, although the co-ops are now to deal directly with the administration, with input from the respective student representative bodies.

For more information, visit http://groundwork.ucsd.edu.

Contributors to Cliff Notes:
Karla Devries, '04
Evelyn Hsieh, '05
Jessica Megill, '05
Darren Posey, '05


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"...a political collective and non-profit bookstore working toward social change"