Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

New leftist bookstore, coffeeshop embraces Lenin/Trotsky ideals

Cafe Para la Vida Digna from Chiapas, Mexico, is one of the coffees available.

Cafe Para la Vida Digna from Chiapas, Mexico, is one of the coffees available.

You know what you’re getting when you step into Revolutionary Grounds Books and Coffee, which opened Saturday at 606 N. Fourth Ave.

This is not the place for the red state, conservative crowd.

Revolutionary Grounds is the brainchild of social justice attorney Paul Gattone and his wife, Joy Soler.

Gattone leans toward Vladimir Lenin and communism and Soler embraces Leon Trotsky and socialism.

They met five years ago, married three years ago, and from the outset Gattone has had a hankering to open a bookstore and Soler has long dreamed of a cafe. The result is Revolutionary Grounds in the space formerly occupied by Rainbow Planet Coffee House.

“We are a leftist political bookstore,” said Soler, wearing a T-shirt reading “Stop Bitching. Start a Revolution.”

This is a revolution that comes with muffins, smoothies, cheesecakes and sandwiches – one choice even involving meat.

“We’re not trying to bring on a communist revolution in Tucson,” Soler said. “We’re just trying to improve the world.”

Tucson may be a blue city in a red state, but the Lenin-Trotsky crowd isn’t exactly embraced here.

“Tucson is an oasis and it’s still felt like being under siege not having the mainstream views,” Soler said. “I feel that way, my friends feel that way, Paul feels that way. We’re creating a place for us. Some of the great social movements came together over coffee. We are happy to be the birthplace of great social movements.”

The topics covered on the bookshelves include gender, Latin American revolutionary movements, Native American movements, sustainability, green living, vegan eating, black liberation, Che Guevara and, of course, Lenin, Trotsky and Marx.

The two principal coffee brands are Cafe Para la Vida Digna from a collective in Chiapas, Mexico, and Roaster X, a local coffee roaster with a fair trade certificate. The loose-leaf tea comes from Maya Teas in Tucson.

Refreshments may be enjoyed on the rustic gravel patio out back with trees and koi pond, the urban concrete patio to the side with street noise providing the ambience, or in the reading room amid the “leftist literature.”

“There’s a dream of a place where people who believe in social justice and social change can gather, talk, exchange ideas and have access to an open, welcoming environment,” said Soler, who quit her job as an HIV case manager at the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation to open Revolutionary Grounds.

Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. The cafe is closed Mondays.

Joshua House stops in to support Revolutionary Grounds Books and coffee.
Owner Paul Gattone helps a customer while his wife Joy Soler (left) makes a sandwich.

Owner Paul Gattone helps a customer while his wife Joy Soler (left) makes a sandwich.

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