A Wealth of Relationships

More and more of us are beginning to realize that we can?t deny
the effects of our financial decisions any more than we can live in
this country and not share some responsibility for our government?s
dealings. Where we shop and bank, what products we buy, and how
much money we need to feel secure?indeed, how we define
security?all these choices directly influence the financial
structures that shape our society.

What?s heartening is that everywhere I turn, I hear talk about
new financial forms and structures. From a growing interest in
?slow money? venture capital funds that build enduring institutions
of value to the fast-growing national BALLE (Business Alliance for
Local Living Economies) movement to people exploring new kinds of
corporate charters, new ways of looking at currency and credit, and
new hybrid organizations that are part for-profit and part
nonprofit, I see some tender but sturdy sprouts of hope.

We?ve been nurturing a lot of seedlings ourselves. We?re more
than two years into a three-year company reinvention. We began by
cutting costs, looking for new ways to build circulation, and
asking our readers for help as we took a fresh look at what was
then a 17-year-old company in a somewhat troubled adolescence. We
then embarked on a major relaunch that saw us refine the company?s
mission and redesign our magazine and Web site. We knew we had to
expand and diversify in order to survive. But we also wanted to
prove that growth and independence could coexist.

Situated as we are in the heartland, we draw from farming
metaphors: A publishing monoculture with just one crop?our
magazine?is simply unsustainable, so we have been cultivating
diversity in the last year. We created our first-ever newsstand
special issue?a yearbook of arts and culture. We produced two books
with New Society Publishers. In a copublishing effort that led to a
new national literary magazine, Speakeasy, we showed how
our experience could benefit other small publications. We
cosponsored an insert in our May/June issue with the Rudolf Steiner
Foundation that gave us another way to deliver important content we
couldn?t otherwise afford to produce. We also hold a minority stake
in an exciting young company called In Radio. We?re betting that
the small, innovative ventures we nurture today will someday
nourish us.

Our next step is to explore our company?s formal structure. We?d
like to become one of those nonprofit/for-profit hybrids I
mentioned. We hope to meld a foundation partnership with family
ownership, employee participation, and some sort of co-op mechanism
involving our readers. Our wish list also includes shared ownership
and investment with other mission-driven companies.

We see this moment as an opportunity, a chance to call upon
almost 20 years of credibility and connection?a form of wealth that
can?t be manufactured overnight. We?re convinced that our ability
to thrive will depend on the relationships we?ve relied on from the
beginning.

Our central relationship remains with, you, our readers. In
every issue, we cover a vast array of ideas, thanks to our
collection of almost 2,000 independent publications. Many of our
mission-driven advertisers connect us with their own diverse
worlds. But that?s nothing compared to the cultural network created
by the nearly 500,000 readers who, our surveys tell us, see each
issue of the magazine. You are change agents situated at the
intersections of disparate and overlapping networks. And because
others consult you before making decisions, you are instrumental in
spreading ideas through the culture. Factor that in, and what
emerges is a fascinating map of economic and political
possibility.

It is time for all of us who believe that we live in an era of
shifting paradigm to understand more deeply that the changes we are
advocating are predicated on relationship?that the wealth of the
future and our ability to work efficiently and effectively are all
about accessing webs of relationship.

We?ll keep you posted as we attempt to embed our mission within
this network. Until then, we hope our coverage on money (see page
56) will inspire you to think more deeply with us about how to use
the real source of wealth?relationships?as a vehicle of
transformation.

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