Columnists :: Blast From The Past
Blast From the Past - South End Press
Wednesday Jun 22, 2011
When the South End News first hit the streets on February 15, 1980, gentrification was in full swing in the South End, but the swath of condominiums that blanket the neighborhood now had not yet arrived.
It was a time of change, a time of meetings, plans and actions that shaped the neighborhood we know today.
In our day-to-day lives it can be difficult to remember where we came from, and what brought us here. Therefore, in "Blast From The Past," the South End News will revisit its beginnings by republishing old articles online - from development battles, to trash concerns to profiles of people who still live here and as well as those who are long gone.
We hope "Blast From The Past" is not just entertaining, but that it provides depth to our paper and our community.
By Patricia G. Buddenhagen
The South End Press has received a loan commitment of $180,000 from the Massachusetts Community Development Finance Corporation to expand its operations. Ten new jobs will be created, with hiring priority going to South End residents and to members of minority groups.
The Press also plans to sponsor monthly talks for the public by its authors, who include Mel King and Noam Chomsky, beginning in the fall. And scheduled for the spring of 1981 are courses- on typesetting, layout and design skills, and on social issues of relevance to the community.
In securing its loan commitment, the South End Press was aided by the United South End/Lower Roxbury Development Corporation (UDC), a private, non-profit organization working for neighborhood revitalization which is eligible to receive funds through CDFC.
"About a year ago, people from the Press came to us with their expansion plans," said Sylvalia Hyman III of UDC. "Their plan to buy a building in the South End and provide employment for residents fit in with our goals of promoting commercial activity through community involvement."
The loan to the Press is contingent upon its receiving commercial bank financing for the building and equipment, and the staff is now looking for a building to buy. "We need approximately 2500 square feet plus a storefront as we hope to open a retail bookstore," said Barbara Beltrand, spokesperson for the South End Press.
Books will not be printed on the premises, but editorial work, production, and order fulfillment will be done there. UDC will be co-owner of the building.
The South End Press was founded in 1977 as an alternative publishing company. "We do books that wouldn’t be taken on by the big, established houses because they are too controversial, or deal with ideas that are out of the mainstream," said Beltrand. "Our major areas of interest are racism, sexism, economics, and the environment."
As an example of a controversial work published by the South End Press, Beltrand cited the two volumes of The Political Economy of Human Rights by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herbert, in which the authors analyze U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, Asia and Africa, and charge the media with distortion of the truth. Other published titles have covered people’s theatre, solar energy, apartheid in South Africa, Marxism, feminist poetry, the New Left, and the American labor movement.
The South End Press’ current bestseller is No Nukes: everyone’s guide to nuclear power by Anna Gyorgy and friends, which was favorably reviewed by Barry Commoner. Upcoming titles include Mel King’s book, Chains of Change; a book by Thomas Hayden called The American Future; two collections of short stories, and a first novel.
According to Beltrand, 20% of South End Press sales are to libraries, 20% to organizations, and the remaining 60% to bookstores, (half of these sales go to university bookstores). Books are published simultaneously in hard and soft cover.
"Our library sales have been growing, which is an important sign of success for a new publishing company," said Beltrand, "and when we have more staff we’ll be able to better promote our books."