By Josh Hume
Winnipeg’s Mondragon Bookstore and Coffeehouse is fighting for financial survival, having had to raise $12,000 by April 1 in order to continue operations. Throughout March, the Mondragon hosted a series of fundraising events with the assistance of local performers and speakers.
The Mondragon has played a pivotal role in Winnipeg’s activist and independent community since it opened its doors almost ten years ago in the city’s historic Exchange District.
The bookstore specializes in literature focusing on a range of radical subjects including anarchism, feminism, queer issues, ecology, economics and vegetarianism. It also carries zines, videos, music, children’s books, posters and an assortment of products that weren’t made by exploited labour.
Reflecting the diversity of the independent causes it represents, The Mondragon is a multifaceted environment that can support a range of events, and includes a café and a vegan restaurant that serves a variety of international food. They even have a selection of vegan beer and wine for those whose asceticism only goes so far.
It is a welcome refuge for any and all who feel a certain emptiness sitting in a Starbucks amidst the neon glow of a chain bookstore. The Mondragon has a modern-day church basement character, except with better food and with fair trade coffee, of course.
The Mondragon is an ongoing experiment in alternative economic systems. It is organized as a workers collective, where there is no manager and everyone is paid the same wage. The inspiration for the store comes in both name and spirit from a successful network of workers cooperatives established 40 years ago in Northern Spain, which today has grown into a complex system, employing 23,000 workers and boasting its own financial, educational and health institutions.
Should you wish to order books through their online service or support their effort to maintain solvency, visit www.a-zone.org/mondragon.