2014: the Year in Calendar designs

Red Sun Press calendar 2014. Illustrator: Angela Mark

While most of what will happen in 2014 remains unknown to us all, there’s one thing we can see in advance very clearly: each day of the year laid out in beautiful, inspired pages in printed art calendars. And what better time than now to look ahead at the coming year, prognosticating and previewing what the months ahead will look like hanging on our wall?  This year at Red Sun we’ve worked on some very special calendar projects for our Boston-area customers.

For tree lovers and anyone who enjoys great nature photography we have  Trees of Boston, a beautiful calendar bedecked with 12 of the most awesome tree portraits of the year. Photographer Erik Gehring lovingly portrays the splendor of Arnold Arboretum in vivid, evocative prints, each photo matching the month and season in perfect arboreal synchronicity. Find Erik’s calendar at many fine venues all around Boston from Harvest Co-op Market in Jamaica Plain to Bookends in Winchester. Below, “Japanese Yew.”

Another example that couples beautiful art and photography with the practical need to look up a date and maybe jot a note on the wall is the “Artists Beyond Challenges 2014 Calendar” from the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. The artists whose work graces these pages all work to promote awareness and treatment of disabilities such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and physical challenges. Below, an example of Hungarian-American Esther Castegari’s quilt work.

A perennial gem appears each year from the Brighton Allston Historical Society. The fascinating research and preservation work done by this group is reflected in the 12 archival photos presented in the calendar, all depicting  events and landmarks from the entrancing history of the Brighton Allston (Boston) area. Available at various locations around Brighton Allston, including the Brighton Allston Heritage Museum, the calendar can also be ordered here.

Among our local friends in the struggle for social and economic justice, the Haymarket People’s Fund has celebrated their 40th anniversary with a unique wall calendar illustrated by Red Sun’s own Angela Mark. The image, “Vegetalista,” represents the enduring truth and beauty of healing with medicinal plants.

For more calendar inspiration or to crank out your own last-minute gift item look at these free calendar templates from designers around the world, or these great designs. Best of luck to you all in 2014, and enjoy every day of the calendar!

Divest! Divest! Divest! (with music!)

As a commercial print shop Red Sun has always stood out in its deliberate support of progressive politics. All the more gratifying then, to see community activists and organizations in our circle doing the hard work of organizing for peace and justice. In this case, Jewish Voice for Peace, Grassroots International and American Friends Service Committee united in the We Divest coalition, putting a popular, fun spin on some serious human rights work. Their upbeat flash mob presentation at Harvard Square recently belies an intense effort to push TIAA-CREF to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The uphill work is succeeding fitfully right now, and this group deserves respect for undaunted spirit as well as vocal prowess!

Does Your Printer Share Your Values?

Here’s a striking image and title I wanted to share from our recent mailing campaign. The image was used on an over-sized postcard and mailed the to 2,000 non-profits in New England. The text on the back continues, “40 years ago Red Sun Press was formed as a commercial print collective to give voice to the protest movements of the 1970’s, at a time when traditional printers refused to print for the progressive movement. Today, Red Sun is New England’s premier commercial printer for leading non-profits, socially conscious business and unions.  Print Co-op? Print Union? Print Green? Say YES, with Red Sun Press”

Peter Brown
Red Sun Press, Inc
Boston’s Cooperative Printer

Red Sun Press Calendar for Peace and Justice 2013

Red Sun Press Calendar for Peace and Justice 2013

This year our calendar theme is one of renewal and aspiration. We’ve quoted Nelson Mandela from his 1995 autobiography Long Walk to Freedom

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

2013 is also a year of celebration at Red Sun as we reach our 40th anniversary. In 1973 Red Sun was formed to give voice to the protest movement, at a time when traditional printers refused to print for progressive causes. Across the country print collectives like Red Sun sprang up in response.  1973 was also a year in which Nelson Mandela was offered his freedom if he would “retire” from his activism to end apartheid in South Africa. He refused, and spent another 17 years in prison, eventually leading his country to freedom as its president.

At Red Sun Press we aim to make our 40th anniversary a year of renewal and aspiration, and we look forward to working with you as the struggle for peace and justice continues.

Please enjoy the calendar. Extra copies can be obtained by visiting our offices.

Tips for Crafting an Effective Fundraising Appeal

It’s that time of year again, school is back in session and the holidays are going to be here before you know it! This is the time of year in which development teams across the land start to put their attention to sending out appeals to their members and donors.

Here at Red Sun Press it’s a busy time too. With our emphasis on providing communication solutions to the progressive community through print, design, and outreach, we know what it takes to achieve a successful fundraiser.  Much of this depends on good design, quality printing and targeted mailing, but the content of fundraising letters and newsletters is key.

Red Sun Press not only prints for the progressive community but we also advocate on behalf of our customers and promote their campaigns and causes. Our founding mission of providing a voice for those who advocated peace, equality, and a sustainable world is still going strong almost 40 years after our founding!

In our media saturated world, getting your message out in the most effective way possible is more important than ever. Print is still the most powerful tool for communicating your message. In this age of social media and email overload, the letter is still the most effective way to engage a donor. Tactile and visual, it can sit on your kitchen table or desk, and it can be rediscovered after living in a pile of papers. As a physical presence in your home or office, it has the potential to be more meaningful than an email, tweet, or text.

We regularly print fundraising letters and newsletters for our customers and this is the time of year when most appeals are being prepared. There is always room for improvement in how we reach out to our supporters, sustainers, and members. Does your fundraising letter contain the most effective appeal possible? Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly sighted points about how to craft the best message in your letter.

Even with all the available social media and online methods of communication in the world today, when it comes to raising money, the fundraising letter still proves to be the most reliable method for generating the resources necessary to achieve your mission.  Here are a few tips for writing an effective fundraising letter.

  • Personalize the Greeting & Signature – Mail merge with your contact list so that the reader will see their name on the letter. While the reader knows perfectly well that it is not a direct letter just for them, they will feel recognized in a more meaningful way than “Dear Friend”. Sign the letter with an individuals name as opposed to a committee or organization name. Put the emphasis on the reader and refer to them 2-3 times in the letter.
  • Get to the Point – Don’t beat around the bush. Get right to your core message  in the beginning of the letter, ask within the first paragraph or two for a donation and tell the reader how important their support is to you. Be passionate about your mission. Have a goal and a very clear message about what you are asking for. People have very short attention spans when it comes to poorly constructed fundraising letters.  Engage them from the start and allow the readers who want more details to get that information as they delve further into your text.
  • Use Space – There is nothing worse for a fundraising letter than a page full of text that looks like it will take a lot of effort to get through. Less is more; don’t be afraid to leave big open spaces between paragraphs. Keep the paragraphs short, about 5 lines or less on average and avoid a uniform look. The reader should be able to skim the letter and get the main message.
  • Content & Goals – Obviously, the aim of the fundraising letter is to generate a donation. But keep in mind the longer range goals of building a relationship with your supports and making them more informed about your work and message. Even if the reader doesn’t reach for their checkbook, did they learn something or did they become more passionate about the issue at hand?
  • Photos – A picture is worth a thousand words. Visuals spark the imagination and communicate your message. Put some effective and powerful images into your letter, similar to an article in newspaper or magazine.
  • Underline, Bolded, Italicized – Most readers are only going to skim the letter. So don’t be afraid to draw their attention to your most important points throughout the letter. They will be scanning the page for the parts that are the most important to them. Don’t be afraid to make your points jump out by underlining, bolding, and italicizing portions of the letter.
  • Pick the Right Font – Sans serif fonts like Arial are good for headlines but hard for reading. Serif fonts like Times New Roman, Courier, Bembo, or Garamond are easier on the eyes and give the impression of a typed letter, plus the little serifs at the bottom of the letter helps keep the eye moving along the sentence line. For older readers or people with poor eye sight this can be very helpful. Also, as a general rule, do not use more than 2 fonts.
  • Big Letters – Do not use anything smaller than a 12 point font. Older readers are typically more inclined to make a donation, be kind to them and make the letters big enough to read. Again, we don’t want to fill up the page with too much information and scare readers away. So bigger fonts are your friend, some people even say go for 14 point.
  • P.S. – Use a Post Script in your letter. Studies show that this is the second thing that people look for in a letter; some say it is even the most important thing in the letter! Summarize the message of the letter in your P.S. What are you asking people to do? How much are you asking? Is there a deadline? What is the money going towards?
  • Frequency – The good thing about the fact that most people don’t read the entire letter is that you can then send it out several times a year. Each successive letter does not need to be completely different than the previous one. Repeating your story will help the reader internalize the message. You should mail your appeal out about 3-4 times a year. There should be two mailed out between the beginning of September and the end of December.

One thing that we have learned is that it is important to reevaluate the goals, content, and purpose of your letter from year to year. You may be able to change a few things and increase the effectiveness of your appeal to a level that you did not think was in your reach.

Recently one of our customers decided to focus on reexamining the categories that their donors fell into. They created highly customized letters that spoke directly to the recipient, not only in the greeting but in referencing how much they had given previously and what that money help accomplish. The idea is to encourage the reader to build on the support they have previously given. They also made a specific appeal to lapsed donors with a different letter than the letter that was going out to the main group.  By putting the primary emphasis on the donor and the level of their support and making a specific appeal to increase their support, this organization greatly increased the amount of money generated by this mailing.

Is your organization getting ready to send out a fundraising appeal? Let us know what you are working on. We would love the opportunity to work with you to make your appeal as effective as possible.

Contact us today, we are here to help. It’s our mission.

Brian O’Connell

Red Sun Press

617-524-6822 x23

boconnell@redsunpress.com

2012 National Worker Cooperative Conference, June 22-24, Boston MA

It’s now just 10 days until Boston welcomes the 2012 National Worker Cooperative Conference, being hosted at MIT and Northeastern.  The schedule looks fantastic, with a strong focus on learning about co-ops, how they can improve their operation and the expanded role they can play in a fairer more democratic economy.

Red Sun Press is sending me to the conference to speak as part of a panel on Saturday morning entitled Regional Experiments in Principle 6 about cooperation among cooperatives.  I will be talking about efforts here in the Boston area and plans for www.operation.coop.

The Friday sessions have all sold out, but there are still tickets available for the workshops on Saturday and Sunday.  I hope you can join us.  If you can’t make the main conference, there is still the party on Saturday night at Spontaneous Celebration in Jamaica Plain.  There will be bands, DJs and a cash bar upstairs.  Downstairs there will be a Games Room, with a game of Co-opoly being my highlight. Kids are welcome, and admission is free with a donation to the scholarship fund encouraged.  Come hangout with the cooperative movement!

And finally, to welcome all conference attendees, here is the Boston City Council Resolution proclaiming the conference and the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC). With special thanks to Councilor Felix G. Arroyo for sponsoring the resolution.

Best wishes from Red Sun Press, Boston’s Cooperative Printer

Boston City Council Resolution Welcoming the National Worker Coop Conference

Announcing Operation Cooperation

Over the past two months, Red Sun Press has been organizing to launch a Massachusetts initiative to celebrate the International Year of the Cooperatives (http://www.2012.coop/) and to strengthen our state cooperative economy.

I’m pleased to say that we’ve put together a great advisory committee with representatives from national and regional co-op organizations and state cooperatives. Meet the committee:

Maggie Cohen, Cooperative Fund of New England http://cooperativefund.org/
Andrew Kessel, Equal Exchange http://equalexchange.coop
Doug DiMento, Cabot Creamery Cooperative / Agri-Mark http://agrimark.coop
Erbin Crowell, Neighboring Food Co-op Association http://nfca.coop/
Emily Lippold Cheney, North American Students of Cooperation http://nasco.coop
Noemi Giszpenc, Cooperative Development Institute http://www.cdi.coop/
Melissa Hoover, US Federation of Worker Co-ops http://usworker.coop
Ivy Foster, Whirlybird Co-op http://whirlybird.bostoncoops.org
Peter Brown, Red Sun Press http://redsunpress.com

Yesterday, we officially announced the initiative and new website, and have begun the process of reaching out to the hundreds of co-ops and credit unions in the state, to seek their participation. Below is the official announcement. Please help spread the word!

It’s 2012, the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC)!

Today, we’re announcing a new Massachusetts state wide initiative:

OPERATION COOPERATION http://operation.coop

Our goals are to: highlight the importance and power of the Massachusetts cooperative economy; to forge better cooperation across our co-op sectors; to increase citizen awareness and support for our cooperative economy.

Find us online: http://operation.coop
Like us on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/operation.coop
Please share this email with your colleagues and friends!

Join the conversation at http://groups.google.com/group/operationcooperation/

Q: How can my co-op participate in Operation Cooperation?
A: We will be publishing a list of participating co-ops. Join the list at: http://operation.coop/?p=219 Through your participation we can start to promote collective actions that strengthen our co-op economy across all sectors.

Q: I don’t live or work in a cooperative. What’s my role?
A: First, join in support at http://operation.coop/?p=219 . Help spread the word and encourage friends to join too. We are preparing a public campaign to promote actions that all citizens can take to support cooperation. These actions include: Move your money to a credit union; Join a food co-op; Do business with local cooperative enterprises; Support co-op food brands; Renting or sharing? Learn more about the benefits of cooperative living.

Q: What’s first?
A: We have a Boston City resolution being prepared and the text of a State Resolution that we want to build support for. The draft text can be seen here http://operation.coop/?p=11

Q: I have a great idea or suggestion. What do I do?
Join the conversation at http://groups.google.com/group/operationcooperation/

In cooperation

Operation Cooperation Team


Peter T. Brown
Red Sun Press
www.redsunpress.com

Increasing Human Cooperation

Here at the Red Sun Press, we are counting down the final days of 2011 with a spring in our step. You see 2012 is the United Nations Year of the Cooperative, and we are celebrating it by working on a campaign to raise awareness of the cooperative movement

To us this is much more than the typical UN, warm and fuzzy, “year of”. As a print shop and design studio, you wouldn’t necessarily expect Red Sun Press to be organizing a campaign, but then maybe you don’t know our history or how personal us coop(ites) take this cause, and why we think increasing human cooperation is so important.

By putting people at the center of their activity instead of capital acquisition, cooperatives are the natural form of organizing to increase human cooperation and progress – in all fields.

With Time magazine awarding “The Protestor” as their person of the year, there are clear signs that social consciousness is rising around the world. Corporatism and conflict are discredited. They have left us with increased unemployment, environmental degradation, poverty, war and debt. Yet, when we lift our heads up from our current activities, and look down on our struggle, we see our fellow occupiers, our fellow community activists, our neighbor looking for a job, and we can’t help but notice how separate we are in our struggles. It’s that separatism that keeps us from getting to real solutions. The modern communication tools provided by the Internet give us unprecedented opportunity to overcome this separateness, bridge the gaps, and finally, empower each others struggles and campaigns. But we haven’t gotten there yet. We are still struggling in our own patch.

With more than a 100 million Americans already participating in cooperatives, either through food cooperatives, cooperative employment, cooperative housing, or by entrusting their finances to a cooperative Credit Union, we have in place a network of immense economic and positive potential. And with a new generation awakening to the struggle for social justice and desiring solutions, here we are again, more ready than ever: the cooperative movement.

Modernizing our campaign to promote the cooperative movement is the  opportunity that I see before us, and is what our campaign will emphasize. It is the raising of awareness to the fact that by increasing human cooperation here in Massachusetts we can create more jobs, strengthen our community, and build a narrative of human cooperation and the cooperative entity as the basis for finding solutions to our problems.

In the way that “Occupy” has come to define protest in 2011, so “Cooperation” can be the banner under which we define solutions in 2012. Cooperation is to embrace each others struggles and know that each is part of the whole.

The UN year of the cooperative will be there constantly reminding us of the serendipity of this moment. It’s up to us to make it real. After all, human cooperation is the most powerful resource we have.

(If you would like to get involved directly in the campaign contact me at peterb@redsunpress.com or follow us on twitter.com/redsunpress)

Red Sun Press, Boston’s Cooperative Printer

Where were you when…

As progressive activists since well before the era of YouTube and Facebook, our collective memories sometimes get a bit weak or blurry. This is exacerbated by frequent feelings of vain struggles and bitter defeats suffered over the years at the hands of gadflies like Ronald Reagan and Dick Cheney.

Even if if we still haven’t gotten the “change we can believe in” no one can take away the glory, those moments of triumphant striving for justice and peace that we experienced at some point along the road.

And luckily those events – both momentous and minor –  have been preserved for us through the years in the political art and graphics that blazoned our progressive visions. Art continues to be a powerful force in political activism (look at the impact of Shepard Fairey’s work, for instance). And the historical narrative of a vital progressive movement is nowhere more tangible than in the graphical manifestos and the poignant posters that have so often rallied us to the call.

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We are screwed beyond belief

Image credit: NASA and the MODIS Rapid Response Team

There are no words.

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