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Thinking About Meaningful Editorial Work

A brown cat paws at magazine draft printouts

As a journalist and copywriter, I've drafted a lot of text. A LOT.

I've written about cleaning products, pets, higher education, dating apps, business systems, fashion, ride-sharing programs, soybeans, fan art, gender bias and more.

I've developed narratives around why cats are afraid of cucumbers, how a woman came to possess a giant Pepto Bismol-pink sofa from the '50s and why comic-book geeks just want to live their best lives.

And it matters. It all matters. It always matters.

But sometimes, I get the opportunity to work on something that matters even more in a personal way and reaffirms where I'd like to go in the future. That's been the case with the magazine project for Venture Café.

I'll fully explain the project in detail in a later post, but in a nutshell, I was commissioned to create a new annual magazine from scratch for Venture Café, a growing global network of innovators and forward-thinking ecosystems focused on raising or bringing equity and economic mobility to communities. The organization's mission: "Connecting innovators to make things happen." Each of the Venture Café locations around the world has its own flavor and uses tenets from the overall brand in its marketing, but until now, there hadn't been a worldwide storytelling initiative to link all of the innovation districts and programming together. The president of the Venture Café Global Institute was already familiar with my longform narrative work, and he asked me about developing a new signature publication that would showcase amazing gamechangers who are running with ideas that could literally change the world. I said yes immediately.

The project has taken up most of my time in 2018, as we had to develop the narrative strategy, design strategy and project calendar, plus there was a ton of project management due to the many, many moving parts: story interviews, international timing, asset acquisition, resource review, printer logistics, photo shoots, client relations and so much more. It's required a lot of work, a lot of hours and a lot of communication. Being an editorial director isn't easy, folks.

But today, we're finally releasing it into the wild. Happen magazine will be born during a Venture Café event at the St. Louis location, and if I were a betting woman, I'd lay odds on my crying once I see people with the magazine in their hands.

I'm always excited and proud when something I've spearheaded or written is released. But Happen is different. It's so meaningful to me.

Through Happen, I've been able to do what I love -- talking to people about their "why" -- while using my craft to highlight the amazing things that people are doing in technology, science, social justice, education, the humanities and business. I'm so honored that these innovators trusted me with their expertise and vision, and I'm excited to amplify their important work. I've told a number of people this already, but I cried after most of the interviews because their sincere passion resonated with me so much. I'm transformed because of their generosity.

Through Happen, I've been able to think about connections both locally and globally. Every community, every region, has unique strengths, and Venture Café brings those strengths together while connecting them to a larger worldwide network. Local and global economies can feed each other and learn from each other in both systemic and personal ways. It's mindblowing.

Through Happen, I've been able to learn more about how equity design matters throughout innovation, from a simple idea to community input to product development to desired outcomes. I've learned to think more intentionally about who an idea or product serves in both big and small ways.

Through Happen, I've been able to be extremely intentional about thoughtful representation and how the people I choose to spotlight stand not just for the communities of today but also for the future that we want to see. I've reaffirmed that an outright reflection of different backgrounds today leads to more seeds being planted for tomorrow.

Through Happen, I've been able to live my values through my work -- something that isn't typical. Choosing to team up with a fantastic creative director who is a woman (Please hire Amanda Dampf, y'all) was vital, especially during a year when atrocities against women continue to mount. Working with a creative team and advisors who were black, LGBTQ+, of different religions, of different economic situations, of different geographic locations has been immeasurable. Meeting in coworking spaces and eateries owned or managed by members of marginalized or under-served communities meant boosting our local economy in small ways. Finding avenues to intentionally build a bigger table truly makes for a better product and community, and I'm eager to do this even more.

I'll always write about Star Wars. I'll always write about local filmmakers and musicians. I'll always write about crazy gadgets. But now more than ever, I also want to continue to develop narratives about people and ideas that are changing the world for the better and using the platforms I'm privileged to have in ways that benefit those who need it most. I want to give voice to those making things happen. I'm still figuring out what this ultimately looks like for me, but I can't wait to continue.

Join me for the launch of Happen magazine during a panel at Venture Café's Thursday Gathering at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18. More info. Happen magazine will be available online and at Venture Café locations around the world soon.

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