May 032006
Authors: MICHELLE ZILIS The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Amid the music, wide array of artwork, poetry readings and writers’ workshops, the volunteers for the nonprofit Wolverine Farm Publishing celebrated the release of their two new books at a festival called Pangaea, which was held outside across from New Belgium Brewing Company Saturday.

Wolverine Farm Publishing has been labeled many things by Fort Collins residents in its four years of existence, including environmentalist, radical and anarchist, yet it tries to stay away from the one-label classification.

“We’re not really just one -ism, we just consider ourselves passionate people,” said Todd Simmons, publisher and editor of Matter, as well as the driving force behind the publishing project.

Wolverine Farm Publishing was founded in late 2002 with the initial goal to put out a journal that featured local artists, which had its debut in March 2003. Since then the journal has come out twice a year, and last Saturday marked the release of the eighth issue, entitled “Matter: Land.”

Frustrated by the lack of opportunities in Fort Collins for young artists to have a showcase for their work, Simmons wanted to create a journal that would be dedicated to publishing works by locals. Simmons, a writer with an environmental science degree from the University of Kansas, said he understands the struggles one goes through to just have his or her work seen.

“There was frustration at the lack of places where local artists can have their voices be heard,” Simmons said. “We were frustrated with the war, the government, and with citizens not being very active. We wanted to pair up art and activism.”

And thus, Matter was created as a “journal of literature, art and movement,” according to the Wolverine Farm Publishing Web site.

The group wishes to take action and create movement by fusing art and activism together, Simmons said, which is the cause behind several of the preconceived classification notions about the group.

The entire organization is nonprofit, but after a few years of working out of homes, it became clear that it could use a space to continue to develop and grow. The Bean Cycle off of College Avenue in Old Town supported the publishing company and wanted to expand their business to include a bookstore in their basement. Together they created the Matter Bookstore.

Wanting to stay true to their nonprofit ideals, the bookstore gets more than 80 percent of its books from donations. They buy the other 20 percent to guarantee a good selection. All the money generated from the store then goes back into new publications.

The festival Saturday was another way for them to generate money for their publications. There was an initial fee to get in, which ranged from $15 to 20, depending on what attendees could give. Donations were accepted as well. Also, for the fourth time, New Belgium Brewery sponsored the event.

Allowing them to buy beer at wholesale, Wolverine Farm Publishing then sold it and kept the earned money, said Bryan Simpson, media relations for New Belgium.

The Wolverine Farm Publishing runs on what Simmons refers to as a “shoe string budget.”

“We want people to realize that if you want to do something, you don’t have to wait for it all to line up perfectly before you take action,” Simmons explained of his venture, and the continued success on such a small budget.

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