Publisher’s Commentary 3: Welcome to the Year of Healthy Collaboration

 

“The whole world is a work of art ….

We are the words; we are the music;

We are the thing itself.”

— Virginia Woolf

 

I start off this year feeling powerfully creative. We have turned over a new year with the Minnesota Women’s Press magazine, including new monthly themes. [See co-editor Lydia’s summary of 2024 themes and find out how to submit your story ideas.] Womenspress.com will begin amplifying voices in mental health and housing, thanks in part to a new underwriter and to Badass members. And, Changemakers Alliance (CALL) is on the eve of its potential, which will be on display at an April 13 event.

I also start off the year with morsels of inspiration to set me off on the adventure of a new year.

One essayist who inspires me is Maria Popova, Bulgarian-born author of “The Marginalian” newsletter. She says of her curation process, as she assembles a combination of insights in her weekly newsletter: “Is it interesting enough to leave the reader with something — a thought, an idea, a question … Am I able to provide enough additional context — historical background, related past articles, complementary reading or viewing material — or build a pattern around it to make it worth for the reader?”

I will keep those words in mind each week as I prepare the CALL newsletter, which will include tidbits from our Legacy series; stories that sometimes appeared decades ago in our pages on topics that are still relevant today. I also will use that lens as we share conversations from CALL working groups — diverse voices in the process of creating solutions together.

Why Healthy Collaboration?

Each year we frame our storytelling around an underlying mission. In 2024, we are focused on innovative and impactful cooperative endeavors.

Artists, scientists, and spiritual philosophers remind us that our world does not consist of independent entities, but intertwined branches, continuously evolving in new directions through interaction. Everything in the universal ecosystem is animated and energized by interaction and metamorphosis. When interactions are healthy, the system works; when they are not, the system breaks down.

Atoms. Roots. Sun rays. Ocean waves. Ant colonies. All are part of a constantly changing ecosystem.

We humans begin from a single cell. We don’t exist without a network of continually evolving building blocks. Physicists like Richard Feynman have described people as “atoms with consciousness.”

In “Betraying Spinoza,” author Rebecca Newberger pondered how the image of herself decades ago, with a little girl’s body, could be the same person she is today. “The very atoms that composed her body no longer compose mine. And if our bodies are dissimilar, our points of view are even more so.”

In “The Transcendent Mind,” Alan Lightman wrote:

“If you could tag each of the atoms in your body and follow them backward in time, through the air that you breathed during your life, through the food that you ate, back through the geological history of the Earth, through the ancient seas and soil, back to the formation of the Earth out of the solar nebular cloud, and then out into interstellar space, you could trace each of your atoms, those exact atoms, to particular massive stars in the past of our galaxy. At the end of their lifetimes, those stars exploded and spewed out their newly forged atoms into space, later to condense into planets and oceans and plants and your body at this moment.”

In short, we all are part of a universal cycle of life — not simply an individual one — and 2024 will be our year for pointing that out in many different ways.

Who is grasping the magic of healthy collaborations to make our ecosystem work better?

CALL takes a big step forward at the April 13 event, “39 Years of Voice & Vision,” commemorating the magazine’s 39th year. We look forward to meeting our Badass members there as we convene about next steps in the evolution of story sharing.

 

“Optimism,” by Jane Hirshfield

More and more I have come to admire resilience.

Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam

returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous

tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,

it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.

But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,

mitochondria, figs — all this resinous, unretractable earth.