on Saturday, November 3, at 3:00 pm

Los Angeles (October 31, 2012)—The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles is proud to present The Indie Shelves Initiative, a project that seeks to draw attention to the high-caliber work being produced by Los Angeles’ publishers and writers by devoting considerable shelf space solely to independent books.  Selections are chosen either from the catalogs of the participating independent publishers or by individuals in the city’s literary community who have been selected as curators in recognition of their work to promote a culture of literature.

The list of exemplary publishers involved in this project includes A Barnacle Book, Glass Table Collective/What Books Press, and Gorsky Press.  Acting as independent shelf curators are Rosalind Helfand (co-founder of The West Hollywood Book Fair), the Los Angeles Poverty Department (an organization active in giving voice to residents of and workers on Skid Row), Suzanne Lummis (current director of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival), and Mike Sonksen (also known as Mike The Poet; organizer of the monthly poetry gathering LAnguage; contributor).

The shelves are distinguished by several elements.  A placard is posted on each publishers’ shelf with background information on the press and the type of books they publish.  Each book on the shelves is accompanied by a short recommendation.  There will also be an explanatory marker next to the shelves themselves explaining the entirety of the project.  It is hoped that together these features will enhance the reading experience by giving the reader the tools they need to connect with a book, its writer, and the city in which they both live.

The launch of the event will be celebrated with a reading by several participants in the project.  Readings by  Jim Ruland (Gorsky Press), Chuck Rosenthal (What Books Press/Glass Table Collective), Sesshu Foster (2010 American Book Award Winner), and Todd Radcliff (Honorable Mention, 2010 Association of American Publishers PROSE Award for Cosmology and Astronomy).

the 6 books on the Los Angeles Poverty Department’s shelf:

Sundance, the Robert Sundance Story by Robert Sundance
This powerful and disturbing book demonstrates that one man can change the system. Robert Sundance (1927-93), a Lakota from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, was introduced to alcohol at an early age. After spending nearly twenty-five years on skid rows across the American West, Sundance decided to reform the system that incarcerated homeless street alcoholics. His efforts led to radical reform of the treatment of public inebriates and helped create the process of alcoholic rehabilitation.

Bridge to Shore by Michael Dolphin
Michael Dolphin grew up in Harlem, NYC in the ’60’s, and after a near mandatory stint as a heroin addict in his early years, this12 step workbook book reflects his 25 years of recovery. The workbook is based upon practical application of “The Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous,” garnered from Mike’s personal recovery journey and years of experience helping others. It is designed to help treatment professionals and addicts navigate the difficult but miraculous road “to happy destiny.”

SOT by Flo Hawkins
The first attempt by author and artist Flo Hawkins, to tell her personal story. Born during the Great Depression into a poor Chicago family, she details an early childhood that eventually leads her to a life in the fast lane. Numerous failed attempts at meaningful relationships finally lead her to seek solace in her love for art and writing. A journey through good times as well as bad, from the edge of despair toward the freedom of spiritual awakening, she invites readers to “Be Courageous”

Alcoholics Anonymous-The Big Book
This essential recovery text has served as a lifeline to millions worldwide. First published in 1939, Alcoholics Anonymous sets forth cornerstone concepts for recovery from alcoholism and tells the stories of men and women who have overcome the disease. The most widely used resource for millions of individuals in recovery, this book includes original text describing the A.A. program and philosophy, as well as dozens of personal stories that reflect the growing and diverse recovery community.

LAPD Archive
Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) is made up of people who make art, live and work on Skid Row. LAPD tells the rest of the story; what you don’t hear elsewhere. They create change by telling the story of the community in a way that supports the initiatives of community residents, leaving the narrative of the neighborhood in the hands of neighborhood people. LAPD works to generate this narrative and to supplant narratives that perpetuate stereotypes used to keep the neighborhood people down or to justify displacement of the community. They work to create recognition of the community and it’s values. This collection of photos and texts, taken from the LAPD archive is an overview of the works they have created with the Skid Row community since their founding in 1985.

Manuscript of “Imagined Enemies, Endless Wars: AGENTS & ASSETS convesations On the War on Drugs and drug policy reform 2001-2005”
Los Angeles Poverty Department’s performance “Agents & Assets” explored a controversial incident arising from a series of newspaper articles alleging drug dealing into Los Angeles by Contra connected Nicaraguans, done with the knowledge and silence of their CIA supporters. At this point, allegations of CIA complicity in the drug trade are indisputably true, though it’s still not of general knowledge.  Los Angeles Poverty Department’s  “Agents & Assets” has been performed throughout the US with cast members from recovery programs in Los Angeles, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia and New York City. Imagined Enemies, includes, the text of “Agents & Assets”, (which is taken entirely from a Congressional Hearing) and 200 pages of community conversations, and interviews with recovery program participants and managers, drug policy reformers, historians, and investigative journalists. This inclusive dialogue ranges from insights into the recovery process to documentation of the damage that the War on Drugs policy has caused communities in the US and beyond. The many voices of Imagined Enemies articulate a clear case for policy reform.

Video: Walk the Talk
Talk 5: Conversation & Performance: Creating a Recovery Community on Skid Row
on May 16, 2012, Volunteers of America Rotary House, Los Angeles, CA
Conversation with Darlene Berry, the first female hotel manager for SRO Housing Corporation, following manager of the two SRO parks and producer of the yearly San Julian Park, Recovery on the Frontline Cocaine Anonymous Marathon.  Redd Moore, drug treatment councilor for Behavioral Health Systems, and Orlando Ward, Volunteers of America and Midnight Mission executive staff member. All three panelists have lived in the Skid Row community.