TRITON Magazine Spring 2019 | Page 18

HOMEGROWN PROGRAMS Along with Groundwork Books , Course and Professor Evaluations ( CAPE ) is another student-led initiative of the ' 70s that remains today . Learn more at tritonmag . com / CAPE


How Groundwork Books led co-op culture .

IT ’ S ONLY FITTING that it should start with a squeaky wheel . “ I can remember sitting in class hearing the cart being rolled over ,” says Roberto Riley ’ 90 . Rattling its way across campus , eventually that sound would stop in Revelle Plaza , or make it over to Muir Quad , where the cart , shelves brimming with leftist literature , would serve to feed the minds of a campus already steeped in social change and activism .
Radical , leftist , revolutionary — the origins of Groundworks Bookstore came from ideals of the era , as energized student activists and community members wanted to empower others with texts that might not be found on college reading lists , anything from Marxist theory to community organizing to how to fix your own car . “ Knowledge gives power ,” says Chia Wood , a former student of the ’ 70s and founding member of the collective . “ We wanted to give people power over their own lives .”
The name spoke to the “ groundwork ” they hoped to build — a foundation of community and autonomy , adhering to the core values of a co-op by having no organizational hierarchy or power structure , but in which everyone ’ s opinion was valued equally . For the first few years , these ideals centered around a simple bookshelf on wheels . But once the Student Center was built in 1976 , Groundwork found its new home as a brick-and-mortar , student-run business .
The bookstore debuted as a rustic , cozy spot , with mismatched furniture adding to the charm . Volunteers kept the shop running and organized events like International Workers ’ Day celebrations , activist reading groups and movie nights for thought-provoking films like Attica and Hearts and Minds . As for a business with no formal hierarchy , the collective was able to function through consensus-based governance . “ I was interested in the working through relationships and decision-making without the hierarchical financial and power structure around us ,” says Riley .
Of course , no radical bookstore comes without its clashes . When Groundwork added textbooks to its inventory , the