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One Nation 

A Guide To Progressive People, Places And Things


For all you nascent radicals, The Nation is the great-great-granddaddy of left-leaning publications, billing itself as "America's biggest and leading political and cultural weekly. Telling the world since 1865." Yes. Well. Humility may be scarce, but opinions are not in this hefty-lefty reference book that is not only for true believers, but also for "liberal-minded, freethinking people everywhere, from liberals to compassionate libertarians, nonviolent anarchists, recovered SDSers and decent Republicans."

This collection of progressive cultural institutions, media outlets, policy organizations, environmental groups, stores, restaurants and even summer camps sprang from the efforts of The Nation's staff, a cadre of interns, a loyal phalanx of 27,000 Nation Associates, and vocal Nation readers and supporters. In addition to where-to-find-the-stuff-you-care-about-if-you-call-yourself-a-liberal sections is Left Heritage Trail, a cross-county listing of stops along the road less traveled: Walden Pond, Robert Johnson's crossroads of highways 69 and 41, and Union Park in Toledo, where, in 1934, the striking workers at the Electric Auto-Light Company won their demands - after 200 were beaten by police.

The book covers everything from Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; from the best Community Supported Agriculture farm club in Lincoln, Nebraska, to a list of lawyers titled "Attorneys for the Damned." While the organization is often less than efficient, the wealth of information is thought-provoking, earnest and sometimes hilarious.

Now, thankfully, there is one resource to parse the differences and discover the pedigrees of all those think tanks quoted by the media, with a separate sidebar identifying the 10 most cited. (Note to self: The Heritage Foundation is conservative; the Economic Policy Institute is progressive.) This section also includes a list of advocacy and policy organizations. While some of the language of the left inspires migraines - "anarchy in praxis needs organization" - and some delights, like the entry for the Lusty Lady Theatre in San Francisco ("The world's only unionized, worker-owned peep show co-op"), where the deal for the workers is "No contact, no hustling and a guaranteed hourly wage."

Finally, there is the section titled "Ultimate Destination," because "the fashionable color of mourning these days is not black but green." One may choose to use the Final Passage funeral home "to secure profound closure and healing without incurring alarming debt," be interred in Ramsey Creek Preserve (the first green cemetery does not use vaults or embalming fluids, and all caskets are biodegradable and made from non-endangered woods) or call Lars Hedstrom, a captain in the US Merchant Marine, who specializes in burials at sea and offers veterans' discounts.

Our own little corner of the world surfaces a few times among long lists from New York, Chicago and the left coast. The Cleveland Food Co-op's description reads: "It is a beacon of light in a place where Clevelanders are well known for quickly telling you what is wrong with their city," while the now-closed C-Space at 4323 Clark Avenue is a "combined community center, activist hub and political site."

At last! The perfect, comprehensive book for lefty bathrooms everywhere.

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More by Jo Steigerwald

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