(Photo: Alexa via
Wiki Commons)

On the eve of its 20th birthday, the radical Lower East Side bookstore Bluestockings has announced a membership program designed to keep the bookstore open for at least another 20 years.

The announcement came by way of a video released on Bluestockings’ social media accounts earlier today. In it, collective members Joan and Corey explain the meaning Bluestockings has held for oppressed communities in its 20-year history, and appeal to those same communities for support.

“We can’t imagine a future that doesn’t include the communities who lift us up time and time again,” the Bluestockings team wrote in an Instagram post releasing the video. “Instead of compromising the safer space the Bluestockings collective has worked so hard to maintain, we want to mobilize folx who really believe in keeping radical spaces alive.”

“For the twentieth anniversary of the bookstore, we are starting a membership program whereby people can make a one-time contribution or become a monthly sustainer of the space,” Corey says in the Bluestockings video.

The membership program will be coordinated through withfriends.com and seeks to raise $1,000/month. 

“Part of what the membership program is doing is making sure that people can contribute when they’re able to,” Joan says. Contributors can select different donor levels that come with certain perks and have the option to donate monthly, annually, or just once.

Bluestockings’ shift to a membership model is part of a trend among similar radical community spaces to ask supporters for financial support to supplement profits, in order to stay open in a capitalist world.

Although Bluestockings admits that life on the Lower East Side is expensive– with rising rents and gentrification– it emphasizes that it’s in no danger of closing its doors anytime soon. 

“While we’re not in immediate danger of closing anytime soon, it wouldn’t be our first time facing that threat,” Bluestockings wrote on Instagram. “As part of #Bstox20, we’ve been thinking about how to keeping Bluestockings thriving for another 20 years.”

Whether or not you decide to donate to Bluestockings, be sure to celebrate with them on May 31 at their 20th birthday bash. As their membership page says, 20 years in business goes to show that “radical spaces can survive and thrive.”