Works In Progress is in a symbiotic dance with the local community–a perfectly imperfect waltz that reflects the skills and understandings of those who participate. Birthed from activists almost 25 years ago, WIP may sometimes jolt and jerk, linger or trip, but it always finds a way to move forward.
Often mistaken for a traditional publication with a staff of reporters, it’s not uncommon for people to send in topics or events they think need to be covered. This is understandable. US culture assumes the best way to get things done is to pay someone to do it. But is that really what motivates people? Or does it just get in the way of what actually needs to be done?
Consider this: If given a choice, would Boeing employees choose to continue building giant jets that pollute the atmosphere or would they rather work in an equally giant factory that produces inexpensive, electric, enclosed tricycles for the masses to reduce pollution and save the planet?
The people who are involved in Work In Progress do so because of who they are and what they believe. It is a labor of love and purpose.
Please consider becoming involved in some way.
Works In Progress (WIP) was established in 1990 by the Thurston County Rainbow Coalition. At that time, activists/groups did not have an effective way of communicating with each other or the progressive community. Most folks did not own personal computers and cell phones were still the size of large bricks. The only way to reach people in the area (outside of KAOS) was The Olympian, which was then owned by the politically-conservative Gannett Corporation—today’s largest US newspaper publisher best known for its national publication USA Today. Needless to say, little was mentioned in the daily paper about progressive activities in town. In fact, in 1990 little was mentioned about anything going on in Thurston County. Gannett’s The Olympian, “affectionately” called The Zero, The Zip, or The Five-Minute Read, was the primary reason for WIP’s creation.
In May 1990, the first issue of WIP was printed at the Shelton-Mason Journal—then owned by the Gay family—40 minutes away in Shelton. About a dozen of the original WIPsters went along to witness the hand delivery of the layout pages to the Journal office. Works In Progress would continue to be printed at that location for the next 23 years.
From the beginning, Works In Progress gave voice to many stories that would not have been covered by the commercial press. Notable among them was the construction of the DNR building with non-union labor. Mark Bean, union organizer for the Carpenters’ Union, provided coverage of the hard won struggle to convince Washington State to require contractors bidding on state government projects to hire union labor. Another was the only published photo (Kendra Jennings Mapp) of the takeover of the legislative building in protest of the first Iraq invasion in 1991. And there were many more that can be found on WIP’s website.
At present day, WIP continues to publish the works of writers in the social justice community and encourages both writers and readers to participate in the production of future issues. Social justice is a neverending cause.
Works In Progress has a minimal amount of structure or, as it might be said, as little as we can get by on. The organization’s structure is primarily formed by function. Most people have taken on regular roles of responsibility and the others work in WIP when they have time or on a specific project. Both types of participation are valued as one gives stability and the other, variety.
As an all-volunteer organization, no one can be told what to do or where to go. (It’s occasionally tried, but if the person doesn’t want to do it, it ain’t gonna fly.) So while there traditionally has been a focal person that people tend to look toward, in reality, all are in charge and no one is in charge simultaneously. Daunting, you may think, and yet pretty amazing that the paper has lasted more than two decades. And people really do want to make a difference even though it may mean not making a buck. (While we do care about people’s financial survival and will compensate when possible, with this nonprofit, funds are not always available. In fact, rarely. Our apologies.)
With this loose structure, it is very important that people attempt to maintain positive attitudes. Sometimes this is hard as things can become difficult since we are all human and perfectly imperfect. There will be miscommunications, disagreements, and, every once in a while, a bad decision. As the saying goes, “shit happens.” Yet this, too, shall pass and WIP will carry on.
We ask that people are respectful of different levels of understanding. We’re all working on figuring things out; some have just been on the path a bit longer. In addition, it’s also important that people be aware of the baggage they may carry from personal experiences that can harm their abilities to interact with others. We can sympathize with those who have experienced sexual abuse, domestic violence, rape, military duty, child abuse, and other painful situations. Unfortunately, Works In Progress is not an ideal place to work through one’s personal issues. We highly recommend counseling (and not just for our sakes).
Submitting your work to WIP
Some people have claimed to feel a bit intimidated in submitting content to Works In Progress. Let us explain why this is unnecessary.
WIP’s original purpose was to provide people in the social justice community a way to communicate to each other. From there it soon added its intent to become a voice for the disenfranchised as well as a forum to explore issues of importance. While some who participate may have professional skills, the majority do not. People who submit work to WIP are not paid, at least, not by us!
Works In Progress does not have reporters. It is only in the last year that we formed the Writers’ Group whose members have, at times, volunteered to write assigned stories, but this is not usual. Most of the content in WIP is written by individuals in the community who have chosen to spend the time and effort to share what they believe is important for others to know.
The following is what’s most essential to keep in mind when writing for Works In Progress:
Works In Progress is committed to stories misrepresented or ignored by the mainstream media. We value local, well-researched news stories, accounts of personal experience, and reflections by local authors. Opinion pieces, also valued, are often best supported by facts, examples, and sources, and we encourage writers to include these elements to submissions. We’re also looking for graphics, poetry, cartoons, and articles that push the boundaries of conventional journalism.
Another thing to remember is that there are WIP members who edit submissions and will work with authors to maximize readability and clarity. We want you to look good, too.
For more information, please contact Works In Progress at olywip@gmail. We are also on Facebook.
WIP ‘s working groups
The Writers’ Group is probably the most dynamic of WIP’s organization. Peopled by regular WIP contributors, the group is primarily focused on content (articles, photos, graphics, and other submissions). This is an opportunity for individuals to discuss their planned contributions, topics that should be covered in WIP—if possible, and by whom—and photos or graphics to accompany content. This group also shares the responsibility of editorial decisions with the Editing Group and works to improve coverage of issues important to the progressive community. This group meets for one hour at Traditions Café at 5:30 pm on the first Thursday of the month.
The Distribution/Outreach Group is a lively group that has the tasks of overseeing the physical distribution of Works In Progress and community outreach, which includes tabling at local events. In both duties, people skills and self-motivation are equally important because, at many times during each month, distribution members are the public faces of WIP.
This group meets the second Thursday of the month when neccessary. Location varies.
The Editing Group makes editorial decisions regarding content submitted to Works In Progress. It is responsible for editing articles, fact checking, and working with authors to resolve any problems regarding their submissions. Most of the work is done during the two-hour meeting on a Tuesday evening, though a few articles may require more attention during the next couple of days. Those individuals with editing skills and an attention to detail are highly valued. This is a great group if you love to nitpick. (We’d appreciate it!)
The Layout Group is the most isolated group as its primary responsibility is the digital layout of the paper edition. Individual members work separately on computers using the publishing software InDesign and communicate primarily by email and phone. Most of the efforts by this group is during the week before the last Monday of the month. The amount of work required for each individual is negotiated. Active Layout Group members who are involved in the layout of pending issues are required to attend that issue’s editing and proofreading meetings.
The Proofreading Group is the friendliest collection of people in WIP and even more nitpicky than the Editing Group. Responsible for finding errors big and small, they are also the most quiet and sometimes not at all. They are also responsible for revising headlines, when needed, and making last minute decisions on just about anything regarding the pending issue.
This group meets at 1 pm on the Saturday before the last Monday of the month. Red pens are provided.
Website/Social Media Group
The Website/Social Media Group is the lastest addition to WIP. It is responsible for maintaining the website, which includes updating the website, uploading the digital issue each month, and promoting WIP on social media. WIP is eager for more people to become involved in order to move Works In Progress more fully into the 21st century.
For more information on any of the above WIP groups, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org