Northland Poster Collective is closing. As an organization that has struggled on for thirty years and three months, we have enjoyed long and deep relationships with many organizers, activists, students, teachers, leaders and rank and filers in unions, immigrant rights, nationalist, GLBTQ, farmer, women’s and too many other movements and groups to enumerate. We have worked community strategy sessions, union and labor dissident conferences and picket lines. We’ve designed demonstrations with high-schoolers and taught screen printing behind bars. We have friends for whom Northland has always been there and others who have just discovered us. We have friends who discovered us when they were rank and file activists and who are now national leaders.
Given these ties we have tried, once the decision was made, to close Northland in a deliberate, transparent and respectful way that will preserve some of the services that you have come to appreciate (see Life After Northland).
We don’t have to tell you that maintaining a small, insurgent political art organization, without institutional backing or grant funding for thirty years in a capitalist economy is a struggle. That we did it for so long is an achievement we can celebrate. A couple of years ago we engaged in a major fundraising effort that retired a mountain of old debt and set us — or so we hoped — on a course toward long-term stability. Given a few more years of steady growth without any global financial meltdowns we may well have gotten there. We didn’t get an opportunity to find out. After years of doing our part to undermine Wall Street, the darned thing fell on us!
When you helped us to raise the funds for another try, we committed ourselves to making a concerted effort to make it work, but one that would not subject us to missed paychecks or creeping debt. We already knew what that was like. While Goldman Sachs managers have been making off with billions, many of the people who are our constituents are not in as good shape. It became clear that we would face many years of ups and downs and that we didn’t have the buffer to ride out the downs without being sure if the ups were going to return. That’s the summary account.
There’s a bigger story that is worth noting that has to do with the way the cultural struggle for a better world is carried out. In short, the right wing is very aware that political power grows out of people’s beliefs and hopes and dreams and they support their cultural warriors unstintingly. Our side thinks in terms of “issue campaigns” and leaves its cultural workers to work second jobs or take out mortgages to support their projects. We may wish to rethink this strategy.
We are working to keep as much of our past production and art and union printing services as possible, available in new forms. How that shakes out will become clearer in the months to come. It’s been a wild and exhilarating thirty years! While we close a chapter with the closing of Northland, be sure that we’re not going away any more than you are. See you on the picket line!