In Other Words Feminist Community Center

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In Other Words Feminist Community Center
Non-profit 501(c)3
IndustryCommunity center
Defunct2018 (2018)
HeadquartersPortland, Oregon
Key people
Johanna Brenner
Kathryn Tetrick
Catherine Sameh
ProductsBooks, magazines, CDs, locally made products *Defunct*

In Other Words Feminist Community Center was an independent non-profit feminist bookstore, community center and events space in Portland, Oregon. Its mission statement read: "In Other Words inspires and cultivates feminist community, nurturing social justice." Founded in 1993, it closed in 2018.

Early years[edit]

The center was founded as In Other Words Women's Books and Resources in 1993 by Johanna Brenner, the Women's Studies program coordinator at Portland State University at that time, along with Kathryn Tetrick, and Catherine Sameh. The trio opened the store in response to the closure of Portland's only other feminist bookstore, A Woman's Space.[1] The original storefront was located in the heart of the Hawthorne District, and advertised itself as a "gathering place for all women and their friends, a community space where anyone can discover the rich world of women's literature, culture and community."[2] In 2010, Congress enacted legislation requiring schools to disclose textbook information during class registration, giving students time and opportunity to purchase textbooks from a variety of sources. As a result, In Other Words’ sales plummeted, and within a year the store was more than $18,000 in debt. [3]

NE Killingsworth[edit]

In February 2006 the store relocated to Northeast Portland near Alberta Street.[4] Unable to afford the rising rent on Hawthorne, the organization worked out an agreement to use a space on NE Killingsworth Street owned by the Albina Women's League. The location had previously been home to the Albina Art Center, an organization aimed at "discovering and developing the intellectual and cultural resources of the area,"[5] and had historically been a black neighborhood. This move raised many concerns about gentrification and white feminism.[6]

Current operation[edit]

As of 2011, In Other Words was one of nine feminist bookstores left in the United States.[7] Due to declining revenues, the organization shifted its focus from book-selling to fostering grassroots activism as a feminist community center. The center hosted weekly, monthly, quarterly, and one-time events featuring art, literature, feminist philosophy, and queer activism, among other topics. It also retains a retail component, selling books on topics such as feminism, queer studies, and transgender studies, along with consignment goods from local artists. In 2011, In Other Words also launched a lending library with a wide variety of titles available to the public at no charge.

As part of its restructuring, In Other Words became nearly completely volunteer run, except for one paid accountant. The organization was made up of a board of directors and a system of volunteer work teams.[8]

In Other Words was part of the inspiration for the fictional feminist bookstore in the sketch comedy show Portlandia as well as a setting for some of the show's scenes.[9][10][11] However, the store's owners later became critical of the show's portrayal of issues they considered to be important, and in 2016 they cut ties to the show and expressed their criticism publicly,[12] describing it as "diametrically opposed to our politics and the vision of society we're organizing to realize".[13]

In fall 2014, it was announced that the store would soon be forced to close because of a shortage of funds. A fundraising campaign kept the store open for a time,[14] but it closed permanently in June 2018.[15] Critical Resistance Portland planned to keep the building open as a community center.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About | In Other Words". In Other Words Feminist Community Center. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  2. ^ "In Other Words Women's Books and Resources", August, 2001
  3. ^
  4. ^ "In Other Words Women's Books and Resources - altportland (the Portland Guide)". altportland. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  5. ^ Golden, Sue (19 January 1968). "Portland's Albina Art Center Answers Local Need" (PDF). Pioneer Log. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 February 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  6. ^ Rasmussen, Debbie. "Hope/politics of Place". Bitch Magazine. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  7. ^ Amer, Robin (13 July 2011). "What's killing feminist bookstores?". WBEZ. Archived from the original on 11 June 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  8. ^ "Staff & Board | In Other Words Feminist Community Center". Archived from the original on 20 January 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  9. ^ "Brownstein And Armisen's Comedic Take On Portland". NPR. January 5, 2012.
  10. ^ Harris, Paul (11 February 2012). "Portland, the US capital of alternative cool, takes TV parody in good humour". The Guardian.
  11. ^ Yardley, William (January 23, 2011). "Can a City This Self-Serious Take a Joke?". The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  12. ^ "Feminist bookstore from "Portlandia" cuts ties with show". CBS News. September 29, 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  13. ^ Chappell, Bill (September 30, 2016). "Feminist Bookstore Slams 'Portlandia' And Says Show Can No Longer Film There". NPR. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  14. ^ Turnquist, Kristi (January 4, 2015). "Portland's In Other Words, site of 'Portlandia' feminist bookstore sketches, will stay open". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2015-01-04.
  15. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°33′45″N 122°40′00″W / 45.5626°N 122.6667°W / 45.5626; -122.6667