An Urgency to Live from the Heart

Whether it’s the expansive release that comes with warm weather or
the easing of our financial pressure, we’re breathing more deeply
and laughing more freely around the office these days. We’re far
from out of the woods, and there are plenty of looming problems
(like an impending postal in-crease), but we have–thanks, in part,
to your renewals and gift subscriptions–gained ourselves a little
time.

And what are we doing with the opportunity this breathing space
has provided? I’ve written in this column about some of the
nuts-and-bolts changes we’re trying and the new models of doing
business we’re exploring. But there is another, deeper process
we’ve all been engaging in.

Coming as close to an economic iceberg as we did last year
forced us to really examine our purpose in continuing to publish
Utne Reader. Had we perhaps outlived our usefulness? Is it
even possible to create a sustainable business out of a
single-title national magazine? The jury is still out on the second
question, but an exciting answer to the first is emerging.

We’ve concluded that our role as a clutter cutter in a sea of
ever-expanding information and as a guide to breakthrough ideas and
visionary thinkers is as essential as ever. Moreover, the trust and
connection we have with you, our network of engaged
reader-activists, is a powerful resource at a time when so much
that we care about is in increasing jeopardy.

In order to wield this power effectively and to be deserving of
your trust, we have had to do–and continue to do–a lot of cleanup,
changing all the ways that we as a business have become habit-bound
or careless.

Almost half our staff has been here for more than five years,
and a quick calculation tells me that the 13 who have been around
the longest (not necessarily employed all this time, but associated
with Utne Reader) represent over 150 years and many
neglected ‘I’m sorry’s and ‘thank you’s that have accumulated over
17 years of publishing. Together we have done nearly all the things
we possibly could to complicate the process of working
together–mingling marriages, money, children, and racking up more
than a few soap opera episodes in the process–but all while getting
the magazine out issue after issue. We’ve been looking at where
we’ve walked our talk and where we’ve fallen short, as part of the
process of knitting together new and longtime staffers and building
the foundation of trust and mutual respect that must occur before
the company takes its next major steps.

I am struck by what a gift it is to be in relationship with a
community of people over time, so that there is an opportunity to
deepen and grow. In this throwaway culture, it is a rare thing to
share so much history. So we’ve been thinking a lot about
community, about how to strengthen and empower our own here in the
office and around Minneapolis, as well as how to link with all the
communities that you, our readers, participate in. Increasingly, we
are aware that we belong to a burgeoning movement of people who
feel a commitment and urgency to live from the heart and to honor
the planet and all her creatures.

P.S. One of our exciting new initiatives, creating books devoted
to the same mis-sion and ideas as the magazine, is debuting with
two titles being published by New Society Publishers:
Visionaries: People and Ideas to Change Your Life and Salons:
The Joy of Conversation.
For details, look inside this
issue.

UTNE
UTNE
In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.