Dear Bookstore Friends,
Gayle Shanks
Gayle Shanks
As many of you know, two of my palo verde trees were blown over mid-summer. I've spent the last few weeks reconfiguring my yard, propping up the plants they uprooted, and begging my arborist to send his skilled but overworked tree trimmers to my house to reduce the size of the remaining trees so they don't blow over in the next storm. The trimmers arrived finally, and once again I'm in awe at their work. How do they choose the perfect branches to cut? How can they trim a huge tree so that the arc of the final canopy so magically evolves, one branch at a time? It's like watching a ballet with Edmundo as one skilled tree dancer! Now when fall weather sets in I can replant the lost shrubs and spend the time I love working outdoors. Also looking forward to the Desert Botanical Garden's fall plant sale and the reopening of my favorite nursery, Dig It. They've remodeled and I can't wait to see the new space and spend a gift card from a dear friend.

Getting outside, putting my hands in the dirt, pulling weeds, feeling the air on my skin, hearing the birds in the trees, and watching lizards sun themselves on rocks relieves my stress levels. I don't know about you, but I feel that I'm continuously stressed these days. Raging, lying Supreme Court nominees, lack of school funding and teacher appreciation, an Oval Office out of control, attempts to throw voters off registration lists, weekly reports of scandals and threats to our democracy and institutions, ongoing wars and shootings. What's a woman to do? Work in her garden, spend time with her friends and family, share in raising her grandson, eat healthy food, exercise, do Pilates, listen to the news (but not too much), and perhaps most importantly these days, cast an informed VOTE in the midterms and encourage others to do likewise.

Speaking of voting, we can only evoke change if we are willing to participate in our democracy. It's important to understand what values and ideals the candidates running for office hold dear, and how they imagine pushing those ideas forward. The impact of local government, local school boards, local corporation commission members, and the propositions on the ballot often impact our lives to a greater degree than national elections. Yes, it matters what the president is doing and saying and tweeting, but it also matters intensely whether dark money is influencing elections in Arizona (it is), whether we choose to promote solar energy as an alternative to coal plants (we should), and if propositions to fund teacher salaries and keep public education thriving pass in November. This year I intensely studied the election voter guides that arrived in the mail, trying to discern what those who wrote the pros and cons of each proposition were promoting or protecting. With the help of some astute friends, I now have a good idea of which measures will help us move toward school parity for all our kids, a cleaner election cycle, fair taxation measures, and electricity produced by solar collectors in a state with nearly 365 days of sunshine. If you'd like to see what I came up with, click here. If you'd rather not, that's fine, too.

Should a business show their political face and make recommendations on how people should vote? Why am I putting myself and our store on this trajectory? Changing Hands has always been a community-based business. From the day we opened (April 1st, 1974) in a tiny shop on Fifth Street in downtown Tempe, we've been involved in public discourse. Amidst the multiple cases of used books stood a single case of new books which had been selected from The Whole Earth Catalog, our guide in those days to all things environmental, communal, political, back-to-the-land, organic and spiritual. We envisioned the store as a place for conversations, political discussions, for the exchange of ideas and exposure to new ways of looking at things. For 44 years we've continued on that path, and we thank all of you for joining us, supporting us, and helping us become a center of imaginative and critical thinking in our community. Our speakers, events, selection of books, and our social media reflect our personalities and invite dialogue.

Without good-faith dialogue and thought-provoking civil debate, democracy dies. Participate with us. It might be challenging, but I encourage you to study the issues, talk to the candidates, and get everyone you know to mail in their ballots or vote at the polls on November 6. Help us move in the directions we know are good for our community, and especially for our children. Your vote matters.


Questions or comments? Email Gayle at