“Happy Father’s Day, Becky!”

I remember in 1974 when my brother was born, how excited my father was at the time. It was important to him that the Macro name continue in perpetuity and birthing two sons—as my father and mother had—was imperative to maintaining the lineage of a waning familial name. 

Truth be told, my father came from a family of four (three brothers and a sister) of which he lost an older brother to a childhood disease and another to World War II. And then to be raised by his oldest sister. A fantastic independent Italian woman, I remember her unrivaled kindness and generosity. She made the most incredible raisin-filled cookies. 

As a father myself, my wife and I have raised three sons. As life continued, we watched our family grow to include two grandsons and miraculously—over COVID—my oldest son and his wife gave birth to a little granddaughter. That said, my youngest brothers (I have a half-brother from my father’s second marriage) both have sons. So, it would go without saying that our family (until 2020) was destined to bring boys into this world. I would often lament that our family has not seen a Macro girl for over three generations. 

But I stand corrected. 

I failed to recognize that my mother and father gave birth to a baby girl in the early sixties, who lived for only a week. Her name was Becky. She was born prematurely as my mother was a Type I diabetic and—at the time—the combination was proven to be complicated due to the lack of medical advancements available at the time. Becky would have been my sister, the oldest sibling of my immediate family. 

I tell you this story, especially on the eve of Father’s Day 2020, to pay homage to her. I had forgotten her having never met her. Although she has a grave marker to remind us of her past, life’s progressions have rendered her memories limited to those who had the opportunity to experience her very short life. I often think about how my life would have been changed had she been exposed to the advancements in medicine that we have become accustomed to today. I think about all the advice she could have extended to me amongst the many questionable decisions I made throughout my life (like taking a semester off to sell grandfather clocks at the Wyoming Valley Mall). 

So, to all women out there who have been forgotten, who have made unrecognized contributions to the world—albeit small or grandiose—I salute you. And, I salute Becky. 

PGSF BLOG Womens Labour Book CoverAs this blog is in recognition of everything Graphic Communication, I was so moved by a recent book I acquired entitled Women’s Labour and The History of the Book in Early Modern England (edited by Valerie Wayne, The Arden Shakespeare, 2022). It is a compilation of essays that explore the roles of women in printing, publishing, papermaking, bookbinding, and book collecting alike. Dr. Wayne and her esteemed colleagues provide significant historical research into identifying the lost women who were integral to the purveyance of the printed book within the Early Modern Era in both England and the United States—intriguing stories of oppression, dedication, craftsmanship, and entrepreneurialism—unrecognized within the annals of history. 

In my next blog, I will introduce you to a few of these interesting women who established presses or continued the production of book manufacturing in a time reserved only for men. 

I can only imagine that my sister Becky would have made her own contributions to our ever-changing and reconditioning world. But I must first begin simply by recognizing Her, so that her memory is not lost to me, my family, or the world–for that matter. 

Happy Father’s Day Becky. And to all women who have helped preserve knowledge, may the book continue to be written. 

Ken

“Hey, I want to be included!”

Diversity of Students Around Table

By: Ken Macro, PhD

California Polytechnic State University, Graphic Communications

First, I wish to apologize for my hiatus this past couple of months. The wacky world of education coupled with, well, the wacky world challenged time, which took its toll.

But I am back and full of (among many things) new ideas.

As with most educational institutions and progressive thinking organizations, the landscape regarding diversity, inclusivity, and equity remains prominent. With this relatively new social outlook, faculty, students, leaders, employees, and the public as well are engaging in discussions that bring such subjects to light. Most recently, I helped facilitate a departmental DEI event for our student constituency. It was hosted by a trusted professor within our department and included other guest panelists from the department including another faculty member and two students who closely represent the backgrounds of our student constituency.

Diversity equity inclusion

The event was held during an evening in February, and it was held as a face-to-face event (masked, of course) with two guest speakers who “Zoomed” in on the screen. The attendance was around 25 students, four faculty from the department, and three guests from industry who also serve on our departmental advisory board.

One question that was posed to the panel and speakers was, “what frustrates you today with regards to inclusivity?” One of the panelists responded, “I don’t like that companies within our discipline are not open to having these discussions openly and are afraid to listen to younger generations about their interests, social causes, and progress towards change. I just don’t feel as though I belong, or, will ever?”

I think this sentiment strikes a loud bell for us all. In keeping with my WWWdWD theme, Wynkyn De Worde understood this as well. An immigrant from France (Alsace), De Worde, most likely fluent in French, German, and Flemish, immigrated to England to set up the first press of London with William Caxton. Upon Caxton’s death in the late 1400s, de Worde inherited Caxton’s shop for which he moved to the now famous Fleet Street in London. As an immigrant, he was restricted in business activities so as not to reduce the opportunities for “local and native” printers to receive jobs. And, he would certainly not have been considered or commissioned for any Royal commitments due to his immigration status. He knew, first-hand, what it was like to be treated as an outsider and to be excluded from the dominating community. Because printing was still rather evolving at this time, he was able to obtain work from Royal suitors, members of the elite, clergy and academics alike, however, he also took his work to the common people and translated content that was most appealing to them in a language they could understand.

I think the big lesson here is that companies and organizations should do the same. When recruiting younger generations, they should take great efforts in listening to them, learning from them, and including them. As our industry changes, so do the people. But this change cannot be productive nor progressive unless everyone is included. How are you engaging diversity, inclusivity, and equity within your organization?

WWWdW do? He would say put aside put on a serious face and actively engage in serious conversations with the younger generation, or you will find that your company will want to be included.

Ken

Should you have questions on how to establish a DEI initiative within your organization, feel free to contact me. I would be excited to assist.

“Ding, Ding!”

Having turned in my grades for the past quarter (Fall 2021), I do so with great expediency in that it was a challenging and arduous experience. As many schools reconvened “in person” at the end of August, the lurking and dismal continuously-ringing tone of COVID and Zoom Lectures kept heightened awareness of the complexities of classroom logistics and dynamics. It brings new meaning to the term tintinnabulation (a continuous ringing in the ear).  

Challenged with a large college Freshman introductory course in Graphic Communication, I decided to ease the burden of class attendance by providing a F2F (face-to-face) lecture subsidized with an online ZOOM live simulcast. This offered an option for those who wished to remain in the confines of their homes and not within the assigned lecture hall auditorium. Exhausting as this exercise was (I get quite animated in my lectures), I attempted to entertain the F2F students (albeit without the opportunity to read expressions from their faces) while simultaneously engaging students ZOOMing in for the online lecture (not being able to see their condensed on-screen faces). And doing this while gasping behind a mask and/or face shield for the assigned time and talking in front of me, then turning behind to speak to the computer located directly behind me.

What I found most interesting was that most of the students came for the F2F lectures while a quarter of the class lurked online. I stopped several times during my lecture to ask if students would have been easier and more convenient to have offered the course online exclusively, to which I received a resounding “no .” I was intrigued because many faculty members believed that the student constituency preferred online class offerings. Side note – our University held a hardline on the decision to come back and teach F2F, but there was some dissension amongst the masses).

In many challenging and tiring situations requiring decision making, change, and redirection, I think, once again, of our good friend Wynkyn de Worde (WWWdWD). When many printers in Europe were busy chasing, acquiring, and translating manuscripts about theology, science, and classics within the humanities, Wynkyn went with what he knew best, the public. And, as such, began to publish books that appealed to the public. Not an educated aristocrat, but a highly talented printer, he was the first to publish “how-to” guides to better educate his community. He learned this by being embedded within his community, stimulating dialog, and inquiring first-handedly. I always imagine a bell sounding off in his printshop store-front as many of his friends, authors, educators, clients, and residents walk through the door to say hello or engage in stimulating conversation—that is to say—face-to-face.

If you want to know what is best for the people you serve, simply ask them. As a society, we cannot continue to live confined to our Zoom Rooms (it worked when we needed it to). We must face the incessant tintinnabulation and listen to Wynkyn to understand and serve our communities and customers.

I hope your holidays are warm and fulfilling, and, more importantly, I wish you all a sane, healthy, productive, and rejuvenating New Year.

Ding! Ding!

Ken

“Who’s up for fysshyng!”

By: Ken Macro, PhD
California Polytechnic State University, Graphic Communications

In my last blog entry, I introduced you to Wynkyn de Worde. He was William Caxton’s beneficiary and instrumental in starting up Caxton’s printing business under the sign of the Red Pale in Westminster (London) England back in 1470 (later to become the sign of the Sun). Upon taking over the business at Caxton’s death, de Worde moved the shop onto Fleet Street in London, which became the publishing, printing, and journalism mecca throughout all of England. Anyone with aspirations of publishing their works knew where to go. 

The Place to Be

Wynkyn de Worde’s shop became a central intellectual café where scholars, authors, and publishers alike would gather to discuss the political, religious, and intellectually challenging topics that dominated the landscape of the times. His goods and services were vast. They included translating and mass-production of rare manuscripts, books for purchase on Christian theology, psalters, classical philosophy, grammar books for students, or literature (think Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales or poems of Gowen the Green Knight, Robin Hood, and Arthurian legend). 

Who's up for FysshyngeWhat makes Wynkyn de Worde (WdW) so unique is that not having been born within the aristocracy, he became a “voice of the people” and—as an entrepreneur—was one of the first to challenge the norm and publish books that resonated with the common folk. For example, in 1496, he printed and published a book entitled, A Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle (A Treatise of Fishing with an Angle), originally written by Dame Juliana Berners. This was an attempt to capture a new and uncontested market space consisting of commoners and aristocrats with an early attempt at entering the “how-to” genre. As fishing using lures became trendy, the thought in WdW’s head was to publish a book on the “best practices” required to secure a healthy catch. 

I can imagine Wykyn de Worde, having just come from the local stream, frustrated with having caught only a tiny fish, thinking of how valuable the information purveyed within this book could have increased his daily catch. Whispering to himself, he most likely said, “I could print this for everyone so that they can enhance their fishing experience, a practical book for all!”

The Power of Print

As there has been much scholarly discussion about this piece and WdW’s involvement, it shows us that his understanding of the power of print, its dissemination of practical knowledge as written for anyone able to read the English language. It leads to a greater understanding of how a market of practicality is created and a better society is made. I can see the excitement in his eyes when he rushes to the shop, acquires the transcript, calculates the costs, and begins the process. 

Whether we are in school learning about graphic communication technology, innovative prepress processes, creative design techniques, or enhanced technological advancements in digital visualization, let’s remember that understanding what people need and finding a simple way to suffice those needs is most often the best solution.  

WWWdWW? Keep this in your thoughts when you ponder an idea that merits entrepreneurial insight. 

P.S.

 It is worth noting that the original transcript was written in 1388 by Dame Julianna Berners. Another nod to WdW for promoting a diverse and equitable source during a period when women writers were oppressed. He was undoubtedly ahead of his time. 

References

Keiser, George, R. “THE MIDDLE ENGLISH’ TREATYSE OF FYSSHYNGE WYTH AN ANGLE’ AND THE GENTLE READER.” The Yale University Library Gazette, vol. 61, no. 1/2, Yale University, 1986, pp. 22–48, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40858900.
Keen, Elizabeth. “An Authoritative Source.” The Journey of a Book: Bartholomew the Englishman and the Properties of Things, ANU Press, 2007, pp. 103–26, http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24h3kw.11.

Endowment History – The Suttle-Straus/John Berthelsen Scholarship

The Suttle-Straus/John Berthelsen Scholarship

Established 2003  

Berthelsen

LeRoy T. Carlson, Sr. was the owner of Suttle Press in the ’50s. He sold the company in the ’60s and reacquired it in 1976. He created this scholarship on behalf of Suttle-Straus, Inc., of Waunakee, Wisconsin. The scholarship makes note of the contributions made by John Berthelsen in building the organization into a leading industry firm while creating a lasting means for assisting new entrants into the industry.  

Suttle-Straus was formed in 2001 when Suttle Press acquired Straus Printing. They are a commercial printer located in the Madison, Wisconsin area that offers sheetfed, digital, and web printing along with fulfillment and mailing services. The company has been recognized as one of the leading printers in the country through several awards, culminating in being placed in the NAPL Hall of Fame in 1990. It has also been a twenty-year Best Workplace in America recipient.  

Citing a need to facilitate the entry and education of more young people into the graphic arts, the scholarship is specifically structured to give a preference to one- or two-year technical school educational opportunities. The criteria further give preference to students enrolled in Wisconsin schools or that are residents of Wisconsin. Offspring of Suttle-Straus employees also receive preferential treatment. 

 To learn more about all of our endowed scholarships go to our updated online book. Learn more about the opportunities and benefits of creating an endowment with PGSF on our Endowments page. More questions – contact the PGSF Director of Development, Jeff White 

 

suttle-straus

What Would Wynkyn de Worde Whisper (WWWdWW) ?

What would Wynkyn de Worde Whisper?

By: Ken Macro, PhD

California Polytechnic State University, Graphic Communications

Over the years I have become quite enamored with Wynkyn de Worde. In fact, I am currently engaged in research for a book project that I hope to complete in the next year (or two, or three) with Mr. de Worde and his highlighted works as the primary subject.

Wynkyn Who?

For those of you who are not familiar with Wynkyn, he was one of the first printers to set up shop in London during what is called the Incunabula era—or—the period when letterpress printing was in its infancy (1455-1501). Wynkyn de Worde, a native of Flanders (currently Belgium), arrived in London alongside William Caxton who was the first to bring the press to London and—according to which scholar you reference—to England as well.

Mr. Caxton was a seasoned member of the aristocracy—a merchant by trade and an appointed governor of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London. He frequently traveled to Flanders (Belgium), France (Burgundy), Italy, and Germany (Bohemia) in search of textiles and fabrics. It was most likely in Cologne, Germany where Caxton learned of the new invention of the printing press and moveable type. Living in Bruges (Belgium) at the time, he allegedly opened up a printing shop there, and consequently ran into Wynkyn de Worde (hired as a press operator) where he was successful in convincing him to move to England (Westminster) and open up their own shop for which Caxton would finance and oversee sales. Mr. de Worde was to be if you will, the production and operations manager of the endeavor. This all took place in and around 1476.

Printing on Fleet Street

It was well known that Mr. Caxton was a gifted businessman, writer, and translator (he was fluent in French, Dutch, Latin, and English…and most assuredly

German). In his late 50’s, he relied on Mr. de Worde’s physical skills and talents as a punch-maker, compositor, and press operator to produce many of the famous books to whom he is recognized, Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye (1471); Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1476); Aesop’s Fables (1484) to name only a few. Upon his death in 1491, and after three years of legal battles with Caxton’s son-in-law, Wynkyn de Worde inherited Caxton’s business and remained working under the sign of the Red Pale, Caxton’s printing establishment located in Westminster Abbey. It was in 1500 that Wynkyn de Worde moved his shop (the Red Pale) to Fleet Street and began selling books in and around St. Paul’s Cathedral. This move was a catalyst to the printing and publishing industry that put London’s Fleet Street “on the map.” Not a scholar, nor writer, Wynkyn de Worde depended upon others to help to acquire content (manuscripts) and translate them into English accordingly. Credited with over 800 publications by the time of his death in 1534, Wynkyn de Worde was considered to be “The Father of Fleet Street” and respected greatly with much notoriety.

Why Worde Matters

I identify with Wynkyn de Worde. Having started a printing/copying business in a small town in Pennsylvania back in the 1980’s, I can relate to how technology can change the purview of business strategy and tactical execution in a socially hierarchical world. In my eyes, Wynykn de Worde was the first true “blue-collar” entrepreneur. He understood the craft of printing, he understood his community and, inevitably, his customer base. And he understood business. As I have thoroughly immersed myself into the research of this printing legend, I often can hear him whispering to himself whilst sitting at the local pub, planning his next project and mapping out his future.

Over the next several blog entries, I will prompt you to consider what Wynkyn de Worde would be whispering. It will provide intriguing historical insight into, perhaps, mapping out your future(s), too.

Until next time, WWWdWW?

Dr. Ken Macro is a professor of Graphic Communication at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. He is serving his 21st year. His areas of interest are management (contemporary, production, human resources, and Lean manufacturing), sales, and marketing. He is also the faculty advisor for the Charles Palmer Collection – The Shakespeare Press Museum housed within the department. Ken sits on the PGSF board of directors as an educational institution representative. Should you wish to contact him, his email is kmacro@calpoly.edu.

 

Thinking In “The Box”

Thinking in the “Box”

By: Ken Macro, PhD

California Polytechnic State University, Graphic Communications

 

Many of us are finally emerging from our gopher holes.  Our eyes in to slowly dilate from the past year-and-half of binge-watching Netflix, Prime, Hulu, and Apple TV. The George Jetson and Mr. Spacely-like Communications are less frequent, and the summer light, sounds of birds, and crisp—albeit hellishly hot—air has become a welcomed friend. It’s been a LONG six quarters of coursework, teaching from my garoffice surrounded by tools, brooms, and a hot-water heater.

After endless months of viewing hundreds of digital boxes affixed with avatars and names in the lower-left corner, I will absolutely relish the opportunity to be in the front of a room full of students, appreciative of the traditional educational didactic model. I believe they will embrace in-person instruction with a moving, fast-talking lecturer full of unending stories to shock them back into a relatively acceptable realm of normalcy. I can smell the whiteboard markers already.

Celebrating Milestones

Interestingly, we celebrated our spring quarter-end in mid-June. An actual ceremony commenced — extremely condensed and open to only minimal guests for each graduate and held in our football stadium. Upon graduation, a couple of students invited me to meet them for a quick celebratory beverage and toast their accomplishments. With great hesitancy, I agreed. It was a Wednesday evening, and, having not visited our little town of San Luis Obispo for over one year, it was eerily fun to walk on the streets once again with people trolling the shops nearby. Awkwardly, we met at the establishment (known for their excessive choices of beverages), deciding whether or not to hug, shake hands, or bump elbows. It was great to see everyone, and immediately we all began talking about our educational experiences over the past year. As it were, I was actually quite proud of them all and excited that I—the old guy—could share in their experiences.

They were all very respectful of the time, and after two hours (that flew by quickly), we decided to embark and meet again when the time permitted. However, as we were leaving, two students walked up to me and said, “Macro, is that you?!” Then they came up and hugged me. Shruggingly, my eyes clicked as I referenced the forty-drawer filing cabinet in my head full of the thousands of students, friends, and acquaintances’ names that I have collected over time. Unfortunately, within that nano-second, they could see that I did not know who they were. The one young lady made a square around her face with her two thumbs and pointer fingers and said, “Sophia.” By this time, I had located the file and responded, “right, 422, section 02, column 3, row 2.” And we all laughed and recognized the identification tactic as if in code.

Getting Back To It

The bottom line is, I miss the classroom and in-person instruction. And, as we begin to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly of online learning, I can only hope that students in this slice of time will prosper. They are highly resilient and for the most part optimistic. I am confident that every student, K-12, post-secondary, and even those with unique needs, will recover and emerge stronger than ever before. The experience of compressing their identities into that digital box has provided them an internal awareness of the importance of personality and the interconnectedness of humankind. The box still exists, but now it is about the vastness of family, friends, and community. It brings a whole new perspective to “thinking in the box.”

Dr. Ken Macro is a professor of Graphic Communication at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. He is serving his 21st year. His areas of interest are management (contemporary, production, human resources, and Lean manufacturing), sales, and marketing. He is also the faculty advisor for the Charles Palmer Collection – The Shakespeare Press Museum housed within the department. Ken sits on the PGSF board of directors as an educational institution representative. Should you wish to contact him, his email is kmacro@calpoly.edu.