Sunday, October 12, 2014

Poetry as poetry...

10/12/14 by Zvi Baranoff
for the poets still here, the poets no longer here & the poet in each of us

poetry as a political act
poetry as a contact sport
as an act of love
as an exertion of self
as a denial of reality
as an expression of reality
and other realities & possibilities
poetry as revolution & counter-revolution
answering to no one
conforming to no one
street poets
bar poets too poor to buy their own drinks
unpublished or self-publishing poets
taking on the universe
one word, one beat, one syllable at a time
vibrating forever, timeless, boundless
trackless tracks in the sand 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Just Us

Just Us Book Project

This was the idea - and why we came to Philly. Unfortunately, to date we have not been able to find a partnering organization with space that we can work the Project is on hold for now.

The Just Us Book Project is a broad Social Justice program promoting literacy and culture operating on a regional level to bring about positive change both locally and internationally.
The task of The Just Us Book Project is to promote, encourage and organize ongoing book drives regionally on campuses and in schools as well with religious and social organizations and redistribute the collected materials where most needed.
 We believe that culture and literacy have an inherent value beyond quantification and beyond the limits of class stratification. We believe that culture and literacy are basic human rights worldwide.  The Just Us Book Project mission is to expand access.
We will be collecting books with three target groups in mind. We are partnering with the African Library Project to help build pop-up libraries in Sub-Sahara Africa. We are partnering with organizations that send books to prisoners in the USA. We are working hand in hand with various local youth literacy programs.

For donations of 25 or more items, we may be able to schedule a pick-up. Please call or e-mail.

If you are interested in organizing a book drive or getting involved in the effort, please contact us because until there is justice, it’s just us.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Bookworm & the Nonprofit Corporate Mindset 


The Questions & Answers that Lead to Ending My Job

Zvi Baranoff

The questions below were given to each store employee to answer by the new store administrator. I turned in my answers on April 21, 2014. 

On May 5 I was informed that I was no longer a full time, salaried employee. My new schedule would be 20 hours a week. I posted this change on my personal Facebook page. On May 7 I was summarily dismissed.

Write down what you do (not job description):

I process books and other media, develop ongoing relationships to assure regular donations and an understanding of our customer base as well as the concerns and interests of people that donate materials to us. 

I work on an ongoing basis to improve displays of materials in these departments. 

I network with others in our immediate community and the book community worldwide. 
Where do you see changes needed?:
The store is the most public face of Alachua Habitat for Humanity. As such, it should serve as outreach for folks interested in working on projects concerning issues of housing and social justice.  Shopping at a Habitat Store should be an educational experience.                                                                              
We need to do a better job of reflecting the core values of Habitat for Humanity in all aspects of our work. As a nonprofit organization, we have a responsibility to the community at large, especially those that donate to us and those who shop here, that we are serving a higher purpose and the common good. 
Mission-related displays as well as displays reflecting organizational activity need to be regularly updated and prominent.
The organization misses an opportunity when it neglects this valuable outreach tool and is shortsighted when it sees the store only as a funding source. Our “bottom line” must be understood not merely in terms of dollars and cents but also in terms of social good accomplished and a sense of purpose.
Store employees choose to work here because of their personal commitment to Habitat for Humanity's expressed core values. Therefore, Habitat employees should be seen as primarily social activist and not merely retail workers.
Store employees need to be reassured that the money they raise for the organization is well spent, fulfilling the goals of Habitat International. Better two directional communications of accomplishments and goals should be developed. Indeed, store staff should feel a part of the organization to the effect of influencing our development of programs that directly change conditions of poverty.
All Habitat Employees should earn a living wage. No full time employee should suffer with a lack of affordable housing, from periodic food shortages or find they are dependent on charity to fill basic needs.
Concern for employee housing, nutritional needs, childcare needs, etc. should never be considered as secondary, “only personal” or irrelevant. When employees find that they cannot meet their personal needs through their work, there is a loss of productivity. Additionally, retaining good workers requires understanding the needs of the workforce and finding ways to satisfy them.
Retaining workers will become a more prevalent organizational concern as the economy expands and even putting aside all moral issues, the market value of labor increases.
What would you do to increase sales and production?:
A comfortable shopping experience as well as a knowledgeable and happy staff encourages customers to return and also encourage those they know to be supportive of our endeavors.
Creativity and artistic flair should be encouraged from employees.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Gainesville, Florida - January 7, 2014

African Libraries Get Gainesville Books

Habitat Bookworms is shipping books to Africa and needs your help! 

Habitat Bookworms, the staff and volunteers of the Book Department at the Alachua Habitat for Humanity ReStore - in conjunction with the African Library Project - is gathering and packing books. $500 for shipping will make Alachua County’s first library in Africa possible!

Habitat Bookworms’ first shipment will be sent to Ghana, in Western Africa. Habitat Bookworms expects to follow up with additional shipments as supplies and funds allow.
In Sub-Sahara Africa widespread poverty conditions are the norm. Many people are living barely at a subsistence level, existing on incomes of less than $2 per day. In rural African communities the overwhelming majority of the populace live as subsistence farmers in homes that often lack electricity and running water.
Habitat International is a nonprofit organization founded in 1976 that believes that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Habitat has helped build or repair more than 800,000 houses and served more than 4 million people around the world.
The African Library Project was founded in 2005 with the purpose of establishing libraries in rural Africa. The African Library Project mobilizes volunteers in the USA to organize book drives to gather useful materials and raise money for shipping. The ALP partners with organizations in Africa that establish and maintain the rural libraries. Since the organization’s founding over a thousand libraries have been established and more than a million books have been shipped with many more on the way!
The Alachua Habitat for Humanity ReStore serves as a fundraising mechanism for Alachua Habitat for Humanity. At 2317 SW 13th Street in Gainesville, Florida, the ReStore sells gently used furniture and household goods, second hand clothing as well as building supplies at greatly discounted prices. This model provides low cost basic needs to the community, reduces the flow of materials that may otherwise end up in landfills and raises money for local building projects. A percentage of the ReStore’s income goes directly to Habitat International to fund the work done worldwide.

For the last two years, the ReStore has significantly expanded the display and sales of books. The book department now consists of over 600 square feet of the store, raising around $4,500 per month. 
Recently, the large supply of books has been supplemented with the help of the Friends of the Library, as well as many donations directly from members of the community. With this opportunity, the ReStore has culled many of its older stock of books to make room for the new supplies. Many of these are now earmarked for the African Library Project.
The goal of providing the basis of life beyond poverty includes both a healthy living environment and culture that includes literacy and educational opportunities. The work of Habitat for Humanity and the African Library Project dovetail nicely. Both organizations have an active presence in Malawi, Ghana and Zambia. These are each countries where English is the official language or the primary language of education.
The Habitat Bookworms are seeking donations to cover the shipping costs of our part in this project. The books will be boxed at the ReStore, mailed to the ALP warehouse in New Orleans and then sent by cargo ship to a distribution point in Africa. The cost of shipping a load of 1000 books is $500 or a mere 50 cents per book! Checks can be made out to Alachua Habitat for Humanity. Please designate African Library Project on the check’s memo line. Cash donations are, of course, accepted as well.
This is one more case of small change making big changes; As the Habitat Bookworms are inclined to say, “Building Community One Book at A Time!” or as the African Library Project slogan says, “Changing Lives Book By Book”. To help, please contact the Alachua Habitat ReStore.
Harold Baranoff, Book Department Manager
Alachua Habitat, 2317 SW 13th Street, Gainesville, Florida 32608
Phone: 352-373-5728 Cell: 352-870-0384
Find the Habitat Bookworms on Facebook @ Habitat Bookworms
The African Library Project can be found on the web @