Asking for help.

Close to home.

Portland’s women’s bookstore, In Other Words — which is also really the neighborhood bookstore in Northeast Portland where I live — has fallen on some hard times.

I know, I know. Hard times all over.

But here’s the thing.

It’s a neighborhood bookstore. A non-profit bookstore. The only surviving non-profit women’s bookstore in the country.

And they’re in trouble.

What this is about.

Part of their troubles are the economy. Part of their troubles is the usual small business lack of having one’s act together (guys, your website!).

But, much like (though really actually not at all like) the car companies in Detroit, they are Promising To Make Changes.

In other words, they’re going to take active steps to become a sustainable, thriving business and make some monies. Yay.

And you know what? I actually believe them. If I thought that helping them now would just be throwing money into a gigantic hole, then no, I wouldn’t be giving them anything now. Why prolong the pain?

But the truth is that I believe.

Portland is the kind of city that fights for what it believes in. That’s one of the reasons why I moved here.

We have thriving co-ops. We support local farmers (like our Erika) and local coffee houses and artists. We protest stuff. Loudly.*

*The elder George Bush supposedly once referred to Portland as “Little Beirut” — and don’t think we didn’t earn it.

Anyway, here’s my point. You’d think that a small womens’ bookstore in dire need of $11,000 would be pretty screwed.

But actually they managed to make nearly $7,000 in the 5 days since announcing their state of financial crisis!

They can do this. And we can help.

Buy a book. Buy a couple of books.

Their website is fairly sucky, so I don’t know how much luck you’ll have finding stuff. So let me just tell you what I’m getting and link to those.

And if Alison Bechdel says we need to support In Other Words, I’m on board. And I would be even if I didn’t live in Portland.

Thanks to Fluent Self reader JoVE for bringing this to our attention.

Another great way to give.

Hooray for “Reasonable Gifting”.

I got an email yesterday from the fabulous Communicatrix herself, asking me to spread the word about this especially awesome and genius thing.

You know when you decide that instead of gifts you’d really rather have the money go to a cause? You want to give to those in need and you want the whole damn thing to be meaningful?

I’m often in this position. And then you start doing that whole “Oh, god, what if the cause that I thought was meaningful isn’t where they would have wanted to donate?” second-guessing-yourself thing.

Charity Checks is a non-profit organization that’s all about solving this.

So this is pretty great.

They let you buy donations in whatever amount and send them to the people you love, who can then decide for themselves where to give the money.

And since there are over a million 501c3s in the United States, they can choose to support pretty much anything that’s important to them.

You get to give something meaningful, without determining what meaningful is for someone else. And you get the tax-deduction, which is nice. And the chosen charity gets 100% of the money.

And it’s a great last-minute gift thing if you need one. So take a look.

You can tell how serious I am …

… by the fact that I just recommended that you go to two seriously clunky and hideous websites.

I never do stuff like that.

In fact, I almost didn’t recommend Charity Checks at all because of the tacky green dollar sign and the fact that they used the word “philanthropreneur”, which is just … ew. Don’t get me started.

But it’s a useful service. It’s not just about giving. It’s not just about the (non-cheesy non-manipulative) power to make changes in the world.

I think we can do good things together.

And speaking of small, modern miracles, happy first night of Hannukah to those of you who are celebrating. Selma and I will try and remember to take pictures and share them on Friday!

P.S. If you didn’t click on the “throwing money into a gigantic hole” link … you know you want to. Do it now.