Civic Media Center invites memberships
Joe Courter
September 2000

Writing about the Civic Media Center is hard because it is so many things to so many different people. In its core mission as a not-for-profit reading room and library it's a wealth of resources, with over 2000 books, over 300 video tapes, and over 700 audio tapes; all available for check-out to CMC members. Memberships are available for a $10-20 sliding scale donation. Dozens of people check out materials every week from our location at 1021 W. University Ave.

For others it's an organizing space for meetings-this includes the volunteers of the CMC, the North Florida Green Party, the Gainesville Cuba Friendship Network, Food Not Bombs, the Labor Party, Student Peace Action, and others

For local poets and fans of poetry it's the home of Gainesville's longest-running poetry event, the Poetry Jam, where every Thursday night since 1994 the cry of 'poet on the floor' (literally and figuratively) is heard. These poets and writers, singers and storytellers range from teens to elders, and the readers not only share their words, but build friendships and a sense of community that is so rare in our society, especially for youth.

That the CMC is an open community space which welcomes and encourages political thought and action is one of its greatest characteristics. As the words on the front of the building say, "Know Your History, Know Your Rights." The windows facing onto University Avenue are layered with information about upcoming events and a variety of issues. It's a magnet for students and community members who want to know more than what the corporate media doles out.

It's a place where volunteers learn new skills and meet other people who become friends and cohorts.

It's been a catalyst and inspiration for actions, protests and similar projects in the community, like Free Radio Gainesville, Food Not Bombs and Wayward Council. Musicians and bands who have played their first shows at the CMC have gone on to record and play for bigger audiences, gaining regional and national recognition.

The many presentations in our First-Hand History series have shared the knowledge and experiences of speakers of local, regional and even national prominence with students and community people.

For activists trying to find a place to have an event, the CMC is a great asset because of our central location and the flexibility of our space-the bookshelves are on wheels and can be moved around to accommodate a variety of events.

Another important category of CMC appreciators is those who support the concept and reality of the CMC without ever even using it directly. Donations from folks like these round out the funding base for the approximately $2,000 a month needed to keep the doors open and the lights on. You, person reading this, ought to be plugged in on some level, because what the Civic Media Center is to people who visit Gainesville is a wish that they had a CMC in their town.

If you've never seen the CMC, come visit. If you appreciate it, get a membership or send a donation. If you're familiar with us give us a suggestion on how we can make it better. If you can, tell others you know about it. Bring them to an event. Visit the website. The core group of volunteers work hard to keep the Center going, with much sacrifice of time and energy. Folks are willing to give much of themselves to CMC work because they are intellectually enriched and politically inspired by their participation in the heady swirl of activities at the CMC, but to keep it going we need the support of the community. Please be part of it, it's open to anyone; the curious or the hardcore, young or old, mainstream or radical, there is stuff here for you.

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