11/15/2012 3:56:11 PM
Editor’s note: After
30 years of publishing Orion, founder M.G.H. Gilliam announced in the
November/December issue that he would be leaving the magazine. What follows is
his final publisher’s note, in which he assesses the challenges we face with
With this issue of Orion
I will be stepping down as publisher and turning over to others the work I
started thirty years ago. My hope from the beginning was for a publication that
celebrated the wisdom and beauty of the natural world in the belief that
humanity will respect and protect that which it comes to know and love—a
publication in which both the literary and visual arts would communicate the
conviction that humans are responsible for the world in which we live and that
the individual comes to sense this responsibility as he or she develops a
personal bond with nature.
Since the inaugural issue, Orion has sought to explore how to achieve harmony between nature,
which sustains and supports all life on earth, and our civil institutions,
which provide governance and justice, goods and services, and address
humanity’s physical needs and desires. Orion
has also aimed to reflect on the qualitative values that nurture the soul and
strengthen our will, while highlighting the growing understanding of the
quantitative limits to resource extraction and untenable pollution. Both these
approaches are essential if we are to form an ethical framework within which
our existence on this planet may be sustained.
Much has changed in the three decades since the magazine was
launched, and the matters with which Orion’s
early authors grappled appear humble when compared to the urgent challenges
humanity faces today. Climate change, the population crisis, and the extreme
methods of extracting the earth’s remaining resources dwarf the environmental
issues that Orion addressed in 1982.
Perhaps most alarming of all is a political and corporate culture the seems
less and less interested in understanding the truth of what is happening in the
world, and less and less inclined to demand sane policy. At the same time, I
take heart in the groundswell of activism and activist groups that have emerged
during those same three decades and that do so much good work.
The problems caused by rampant consumerism, the acceptance
of short-term fixes, and self-serving behavior with little or no willingness to
make sacrifices are still the primary challenges, in my view, that face
society. We need a way of exploring environmental issues that is realistic and
honest, yet hopeful and inspirational. This will require an increasing attempt
to learn from nature: what will nature permit us to do before it is likely to
destroy us? If the primary role of government is to protect the rights of
individuals and defend the nation, we must figure out how to disconnect money’s
influence on the election of government officials and on the legislative
process. If the role of business is to provide goods and services, how do we
encourage its leaders and shareholders to take the focus off bottom-line
profits and to encourage sustainability rather than heedless consumption? And
if culture’s role is to be an arbiter capable of creating balance between the
governmental and economic areas of activity, how do we foster a culture that is
based on moral and spiritual values that will demand equitable treatment for
all living creatures?
It is my hope—and belief—that Orion inspires its readers to strive for a vision of life on earth
that is just, and that the magazine, in its small way, makes the world a kinder
place. I thank you, dear friends, writers, and artists, and all the members,
past and present, of my Orion team
for the honor of being a part of this special constellation.
—M.G.H. Gilliam, publisher and
founder of Orion and The Orion
Image: Johannes Hevelius, Prodromus Astronomia, volume III: Firmamentum Sobiescianum, sive Uranographia, table QQ: Orion, 1690. This image is in the public domain.
11/16/2011 12:21:08 PM
Some of the best stuff from the Twitter feeds we follow...
The Nation (@
Robert Reich eviscerates the Supercommittee's skewed priorities, draws a cartoon.
See more at The Nation
Mother Jones (@
Chart of the Day: How Not to Create Jobs mojo.ly/vy6C5e
Chuck Marr of CBPP notes that the CBO recently studied a laundry list of job creation proposals and concluded that higher unemployment benefits had the biggest bang for the buck. "That’s not surprising," he says, "given that jobless people are severely cash constrained and would quickly spend most of any incremental increase in cash and that, in turn, would lead to higher demand and job creation."
But which proposal came in last?
See Kevin Drum’s Chart of the Day at MoJo
The American Prospect (@
Despite what you've heard from many pundits, Mitt Romney isn't the kid who gets picked last in gym class. ampro.me/u6m2We
Mitt Romney is just as popular as Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich, his problem—in part—is that he has too many competitors, and Republican voters are indulging the extent to which they have a fair amount of choice. When the field begins to winnow in January, odds are very good that Romney will pick up a lot more support from Republican voters.
Read more about a Gallup poll about the Republican presidential candidates at The American Prospect
In These Times (@
Library in the slammer, roughed up. Librarians surveying the damage. bit.ly/sxUK22 @melissagira livetweeting from the garage.
OWS librarians attempted to reclaim their collection and found it decimated, according to the Maddow Blog. The librarians told Maddow that they only found 25 boxes of books in storage, many of which were damaged or desroyed. Laptop computers were recovered, damanged beyond repair.
Read more at In These Times
Bill McKibben (@billmckibben)
If you want to see someone looking nervous on Colbert, tonite is your big chance
Oxford American (@
Musician Chris Isaak likes Oxford American
“I was reading the ‘Oxford American,’ a great, great music magazine,” he said. “It’s like getting four years of ‘Rolling Stone’ all in the same magazine.”
Read the rest of the article about Chris Isaak in The Kansas City Star
10/14/2011 3:36:57 PM
If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the mission of Utne Reader: To promote the best of the alternative and independent press. Well, to that end, there are a couple of new magazines out there that have recently arrived in both our physical inbox and our digital one. They are both worthy of your attention, and we’ll be excited to showcase their work in the future.
The first comes to us from Los Angeles. It’s called Slake and it was started by former L.A. Weekly editors Joe Donnelly and Laurie Ochoa. They are three issues in, and flipping through the third issue—“War and Peace”—is quite the experience. The content is sprawling: from a black-and-white photo essay of a muay thai instructor (to “find the calm interiors that go with [muay thai fighters] warlike exteriors”) to poetry and fiction to long-form journalism to a graphic story. The editors want to create “a new template for the next generation of print publications—collectible, not disposable; destined for the bedside table instead of the recycling bin.” With their first three issues, they seem to be succeeding.
The other publication that’s recently come to our attention does not offer the same tangible experience as Slake, as it’s online only, but its goals are no less laudable. Sampsonia Way is the web magazine of City of Asylum/Pittsburgh, which hosts persecuted writers from around the world in houses along a street of the same name as its magazine. The history of the homes is fascinating, starting with the first exiled writer-in-residence, who covered his new temporary home in his poetry. As George Packer wrote for The New Yorker:
The first writer was a Chinese poet named Huang Xiang, who had spent twelve years in jail and labor camps for taking part in the Democracy Wall movement. The abuse he endured had been so bad that, when he came to Pittsburgh in 2004, he locked himself in the former crack house and wouldn’t go out. Soon, though, he was up on a ladder, writing his poems in beautiful calligraphy across the exterior walls: an act of self-liberation that turned his banned writing into a startling sight on a street that still looks like the set for an August Wilson play.
Sampsonia Way, the magazine, looks to provide the same shelter offered by the homes on its namesake. “Each defends free speech by protecting the people who actually do the writing and speaking. The homes provide shelter for writers; the magazine provides shelter for their work.”
We encourage you to check out both of these wonderful magazines. It will be worth it, I promise.
Source: Slake, Sampsonia Way
Image of Huang Xiang’s house on Sampsonia Way by ndanger, licensed under Creative Commons. All other images are of the two magazines written about in this post.
8/25/2011 2:32:13 PM
Talk about a traffic jam: Globally, there are now 1 billion cars on the road.
Lori Adorable offers women 8 ethical tips in her guide to feminist erotic modeling.
A travel guidebook writer achieves transcendence on a 30-hour van ride across Mongolia.
French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s indictment may have been dismissed, but the case still shed light on the sexual assaults suffered by hotel housekeepers.
Advice from the world’s oldest investment banker, the 105-year-old Irving Kahn: “There are a lot of opportunities out there, and one shouldn’t complain, unless you don’t have good health.”
Get ready for “The Missing Piece,” a forthcoming documentary which chronicles the 1911 theft of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa from the Louvre.
Eight movie clichés illustrated.
“It’s all too easy to divide the world into people like us and outsiders,” writes Tom Jacobs at Miller-McCune. “Newly published research points to a surprising factor that exacerbates this unfortunate tendency: Boredom.”
Apparently John Huntsman thinks the GOP presidential candidate should try to appeal to more than just 10 percent of the population. Interesting strategy, sir.
If Frida Kahlo’s most memorable physical features were her eyebrows, then her most forgotten was her weak spine, a condition which required her to wear plaster corsets for most of her life. They were, unsurprisingly, another sort of canvas for the idiosyncratic artist. Paris Review’s Leslie Jamison writes that Kahlo decorated her corsets “with pasted scraps of fabric and drawings of tigers, monkeys, plumed birds, a blood-red hammer and sickle, and streetcars like the one whose handrail rammed through her body when she was eighteen years old.”
Every year Beloit College releases a “Mindset List” that gives a snapshot of the “cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college” on a given year. The list for the class of 2015 includes factoids like “Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents,” “Life has always been like a box of chocolates,” and “Women have always been kissing women on television.”
Even after decades of study, neuroscientists find the brain a mysterious thing. The posterior cingulate cortex—sometimes called “the dark energy of the brain”—uses more calories than any other part of the brain (which burns 20% of the calories you eat), but scientists have no idea what it does.
Popular Science explains how to make crop circles and offers up a gallery of the phenomenon.
7/28/2011 9:47:42 AM
A plain writing convert bids fond farewell to polysyllabic prose.
Previously unpublished Yeats play, Love and Death, is now available online.
Step aside, Golem. Make way for real life Jewish strongman Zisha Breitbart in Superman’s creation myth.
George Saunders dissects the curse of the creative writer: the impulse to convert every involuntarily thrilling moment in one’s life into story fodder—and then complicate it with irony or tragedy.
Fourteen urban art installations that you don't want to miss.
Listen to Junot Diaz and Talib Kweli read work from the 2010 PEN Prison Writing Contest.
In their family-themed July/August issue, Dwell offers 13 ideas for building natural playscapes.
Ms. compares Republicans to pirates with their handling of the debt ceiling debate.
“All mammals except camels and kangaroos eat their placentas, which made me think ancient humans probably did, too.” Meatpaper offers musings on eating human placenta, plus a recipe.
Reason compiled a number of dispatches from the Food Truck Wars.
The skinniest house in the world is so thin it’s not technical legal.
New research from the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior shows that it is much easier to predict whether or not your husband/girlfriend/it’s complicated will sleep around than previously thought.
When Texas Governor Rick Perry cancelled subscriptions to Utne Reader, Mother Jones, and The Progressive.
What’s more refreshing than to sit back in your favorite chair, sip some coffee, and read a harsh polemic against the banking industry?
Mongolia: Frozen wasteland or frontier of luxury?
5/19/2011 3:12:09 PM
Does it sometimes feel like your shower curtain is out to get you? The folks at Mental Floss explain the science behind the “shower curtain effect.”
Gliese 581d, the newly discovered planet that is capable of sustaining life, is about to get an earful. Two years ago, an Australian magazine collected messages from the people of planet Earth for their new galactic neighbors and began transmitting them. Erik K. Velan wants the aliens to know: “Apologies in advance for most of these messages. They are an example of our primitive humor.”
Are you in the market for a new car? Check out the classic Italian concept cars being auctioned off near the shores of Lake Como this month.
Richard Dawkins, atheist provocateur, has written a children’s book.
Who was the hippest cat in Montana? The Unabomber, of course.
Everyone—especially the atheists—is getting pumped for the apocalypse on Saturday.
Why aren’t we building “emotionally connected” cities?
This week’s jaw-dropper from Atlantic Wire: “Shell, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP America and Chevron Corp—the “Big Five” oil companies—reported a cumulative total earning of $36 billion in the first quarter of this year. As Huffington Post writer Erich Pica points out that's “more than $200,000 every minute.”
The New Republic
: “The international community has never rushed to denounce repression, wherever it has taken place.”
Drivers and bus riders inhale lots of pollution during their commutes. Bikers huff even more—but they suffer fewer ill effects.
Do farms, golf courses and swimming pools belong in the desert?
5/17/2011 11:12:24 AM
Our library contains 1,300 publications—a feast of magazines, journals, alt-weeklies, newsletters, and zines—and every year, we honor the stars in our Utne Independent Press Awards. We’ll announce this year’s winners on Wednesday, May 18, at the
MPA’s Independent Magazine Group conference
in San Francisco. From now until then, we’ll post the nominees in all of the categories on our blogs. Below you’ll find the nominees for general excellence, with a short introduction to each. These magazines are literally what Utne Reader is made of. Though we celebrate the alternative press every day and with each issue, once a year we praise those who have done an exceptional job.
Since 1932, The American Scholar has provided a forum for the spirited exploration of ideas. The “venerable but lively” quarterly, published by the Phi Beta Kappa Society, enlightens and provokes readers with thoughtful prose on public affairs, history, science, and culture.
An arts magazine with a decidedly literary bent, The Believer covers books, film, music, and pop culture with barely contained intellectual glee. Part of the McSweeney’s empire founded by author Dave Eggers, it constantly finds new ways to showcase the creative impulse.
The Western United States is a key battleground for many environmental issues, and High Country News is your experienced and knowledgeable correspondent from the front lines. Its watchdog coverage of mining, ranching, logging—and simply Western life—is unmatched.
Since 1976, the folks behind the investigative nonprofit Mother Jones have relentlessly and reliably delivered “smart, fearless journalism,” transcending the day’s political spin to unearth stories on everything from global climate change to torturous foreign policy decisions on both sides of the aisle.
The most literary of environmental magazines, Orion takes a big view, touching on spirituality, philosophy, and the arts in its gorgeous pages. Thoughtfully provocative columnists keep it from drifting off into the rapidly warming atmosphere.
is the best of so many things—philosophy, spirituality, photography—but what always stands out is the writing. In essays, fiction, memoirs, and poetry, this ad-free, independent magazine lets all of its content shine brightly, whether it’s a story about a recovering alcoholic finding redemption in a new family or a poem about the sweet things we leave behind when we die.
A labor of love, the Brooklyn-based Wax Poeticsis a geeked-out fanzine dedicated to unearthing the grittiest funk, coolest jazz, and smoothest soul ever pressed into a groove. The writers proselytize, the editors keep the mix fresh, and the archival album art and concert footage is beatific.
YES! Magazine, a magazine of “powerful ideas, practical actions” published by the nonprofit Positive Futures Network, gives us information and tools to build a more sustainable, just tomorrow. Readers cannot help but be inspired by the quarterly’s celebration of human potential and community well being.
See our complete list of 2011 nominees.
Image by .reid., licensed under Creative Commons.
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