Donnelly/Colt Progressive Resources is a small, family-owned and operated business that has provided progressive materials for consciousness raising and fundraising since 1975. It was just one of those ventures a newly formed couple ventured upon, after stints in college and various jobs. We, Kate Donnelly and Clay Colt, wanted to change the world to make it a more tolerant and peaceful place. We also wanted to stop waiting tables and cleaning 16mm films for a living. So we bought a proof press in San Francisco where we were living, drove 3, 000 miles east, set it up and began hand setting wooden and metal type and printing bumper stickers – one at a time. This was a unique service and incredibly labor-intensive. Nearly four decades later, I'm not sure we have a more just and peaceful planet, but it's not for lack of trying. Our business has grown and waned and grown and waned as the progressive movements have.We started printing catalogs by hand-mimeographing pages, then offset printed newsprint, graduated to almost full color and since 1999 we've been on the world wide web. In 2002 we stopped printing the no-longer-affordable paper catalogue, saving scores of trees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in printing, mailing lists and postage. Some might say it's well overdue, but a small few still don't like the use of this fast-paced technology. We are in many ways a couple of Luddites; Clay still types custom printing orders and invoices on funky old manual typewriters he bought at garage sales. (In 2005, he finally got his first real computer and can now efficiently do custom printing orders for you by email.) But we also understand the enormous waste of resources printing hundreds of thousands of catalogs can be. So here we are on the web, we hope you enjoy our site, if you want to know more about us read on, or explore.
Clay and I have been involved in many movements for social change over the past years. I still fundamentally believe in the basic tenant that grass roots, local action is what brings about social change.
It is very easy to feel disempowered by the lack of a progressive mass movement. But selling these materials, all these years, we see that action is indeed taking place, locally in communities throughout the country. Daily we receive orders, not only from older activists and organizations, but also from youth, on and off campuses around the country. They tell us about actions against war, racism, sexual harassment, against sweat shops, for fair trade, against corporate globalization, for women’s, people of color and LGBT and immigrants rights, promoting justice around the world, against the war on students and the poor, and in favor of talks not troops, around the world. We receive letters, calls and email from young people, thanking us for not only providing the products we carry, but for the acknowledgment that they are not alone in their beliefs.
After all these years, the day-to-day operations of this business can be somewhat boring. How many creative ways can we figure out to say the same message, pay the bills, fill the orders, meet deadlines, and do the paperwork? What keeps us going is you, our customers, not people who just buy from us, but people who are actively working to create justice in the world. It can feel lonely out there, we're here to tell you, there is a mass movement for social change. Each seemingly small action is multiplied many-fold by others organizing around the world.
The challenges are how to fit our work into our daily lives, and how to support each other's work. Over the years, my social change work has evolved from organizing protests and preparing people to participate in nonviolent civil disobedience actions, to doing conflict resolution and diversity work in my children's schools to becoming First Selectman (sic) of my small town and now working as an energy efficiency organizer. As a parent, I feel the most important part of my life, was raising our three children to be happy, self-confident, compassionate people. Having this business allowed Clay and I to be here for them when they needed us. It's also allowed me to integrate my social activism with my parenting. I believe it's been the most effective peace and justice work I've done to date. Let's face it, without intelligent compassionate youth there's not much hope for our planet, never mind our "movement."