Local Community and Radical Transparency

I think a lot about the concept of community, and community member’s responsibilities back to the “commons”.

I live in a small town in Marin called Fairfax. If you have ever driven or ridden from San Francisco out to the Pt Reyes, coast, you have probably passed through. Among the many things that make the town special are it’s collection of small, locally owned businesses. One of my favorites is BookBeat cafe, which, as the title describes is a bookstore and cafe. I recieved an email earlier this week from the owner (I’m on their mailing list), and I was really floored by Gary’s frankness in the email. There has been a lot of talk about transparency in the business world latley.

Here is what it looks like folks:




Everybody seems to believe that BookBeat is successful. Thriving, and growing richer every day. In some ways it is. It is rich in community. It is rich in it’s music scene. It still holds it’s own as an independent bookstore and cafe. Financially, however, BookBeat, is not doing well at all. I began BookBeat 8 years ago with the community in mind. I envisioned a place that would be vital to the social, artistic, and literary world in which we reside. A place that would support a 90 year old artist who had lost his memory, or a child with only one parent who could find help when in need. A place to showcase school aged poets and musicians. A place to meet and discuss how we can best live our lives. A place that could become emergency headquarters when we had a devastating flood. A place to show independent films. A place for kids to safely study after school while they wait for their parents. A place for us to meet and get to know the community in which we live. BookBeat has become all of this and more. And there has been much reward for me in this.

However……I still have to feed myself and my 2 kids.

As BookBeat has become busier, I have had to face the additional cost of more employees and also the rising cost of most goods. I have rarely been able to pay myself anything these past 8 years and in fact have borrowed a great deal of money to keep open the doors.

And now I ask for your help.

I am so thankful for everybody who already supports BookBeat. If you would like to see BookBeat remain open, here are some things you can do to help.

1. Shop as often as you can at the store. Do you have gifts to buy for others? We have books, hats, ceramics, shirts and sweatshirts, journals, gift certificates, and more. Meet friends there and have breakfast or lunch. Come out to our evening music events and enjoy food and drink.

2. Please, please, please, forward this email to anyone you know in driving distance to BookBeat. Spread the word that one of the last Independent Bookstore/Café/Music Venues is in great need of support. Not many of us want to see this building turned into a nail salon.

3. Sign up for the BookBeat email list so you can know what is happening.

4. Sign up to be on a list of volunteers who could help do things for the store when there isn’t money available. (Such as hanging up flyers for upcoming events, painting walls, or even waiting tables during a busy evening). You can email me your contact information and let me know what things you could be called upon to help with.

I love BookBeat and I know many of us in this community do also. Please help me keep the doors of BookBeat open. I can’t do it without you.

Thanks, gary

gary Kleiman BookBeat

email: gary@bookbeatfairfax.comphone: 415-256-9060web: http://www.bookbeatfairfax.com

I’m not sure how I what I would do in a similar situation, but I applaud Gary for having the guts to hit send on this.

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