From the Stacks: September 22, 2006

| September 2006

Utne receives some 1,200 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, and zines. Add in hundreds of books, CDs, and DVDs, and it's a flood of media that lines the walls of our library and piles high on our desks. All the ideas, people, and stories inspire lively daily chatter, but they can't all fit into our bimonthly magazine. So we share the gems here in our weekly editions of 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of the independent and alternative media.

ColorLines, a magazine long celebrated for its insightful reporting on race, politics, culture, and class, recently made a change not often seen in today's independent press: it went from quarterly to bimonthly publication. I'm happy to report that the newly configured ColorLines is better than ever -- a conclusion I came to after devouring, cover to cover, the two issues that have been published since the magazine made the switch. The most recent issue (September/October) includes an outstanding piece on the 'poor mother's nanny': that unsung hero who provides very low-cost childcare for welfare recipients. There's also an insightful 'Gulf Coast Update,' which has become a ColorLines norm in issues published post-Hurricane Katrina. The magazine's editors go to great lengths, it seems, to shine light on the issues and ideas relevant to communities of color, and their readers take this to heart: ColorLines reports that its first major survey showed that more than 20 percent of its readers had taken action based on a story they read in its pages. -- Danielle Maestretti

Being a teenager is tough enough, so spending adolescence in foster care can make life exponentially more challenging. Represent, a bimonthly publication about youth in foster care, lends a voice to teenagers 'living in the system,' telling stories of their hardships and successes. The September/October issue features a forum called 'Dear Mom,' in which young writers share their experiences with the mothers who, for various reasons, were unable to raise them. Along with the teens' writings are submissions from mothers and field experts that chronicle the difficulties of mother-child reconnection and highlight the uniqueness of each family's circumstances. -- Rachel Anderson

The mission of the UK-based Living Lightly is to embrace simplicity and beauty while 'not taking ourselves too seriously.' A seasonal publication of Positive News, the Autumn issue features a few organizations actively addressing social problems. Breaking the Ice, for example, bolsters conflict resolution by bringing diverse people together on survival trips. This year a team of people who had lost loved ones to international conflicts worked together to cross a daunting desert region between Israel and Lebanon. The Autumn issue also profiles Cape Farewell, a group whose arctic art aims to raise awareness of climate change. Elsewhere, Will Anderson's article on building an eco-house that encourages harmony with trees spreads Living Lightly's message of the beauty in simplicity. -- Rachel Anderson

Chances are you don't know what a Melungeon is. I didn't, until I picked up the late summer issue of the Appalachian Voice, a free activist tabloid out of Boone, North Carolina. An article by Tilly Gokbudak reporting on a recent Melungeon Heritage Association conference informed me that Melungeons are a 'people traditionally thought to be of European, African, or Native American descent.' But, according to the group, there's a lot more to the Melungeon melting pot: They are also 'in some part Spanish, Portuguese, Turks, Berbers, Moors, and Sephardic Jews among other groups and races.' Besides introducing readers like myself to a new community, Gokbudak's article offers an interesting glimpse at a group's ongoing efforts to define itself. Added to this cultural dispatch is a smattering of environmental news articles, on topics ranging from wind power to bike trails, that will interest and inform those curious about the region. -- Jenna Fisher

Ethical Consumer is a handy digest for earth-conscious shoppers, complete with researched information on all sorts of different companies. I was excited to see in the September/October issue, 'ethiscores' -- qualitative measurements of a company's ethics -- for a number of nondairy milk companies and boot brands that I recognized, despite the fact that the bimonthly is published out of Manchester, England. The issue also included an article in the 'Eco Worrier' section that questioned the ethics of having children. The article pointed to overpopulation and western waste as issues to consider when making the decision whether or not to have kids. Also mighty interesting was a small section next to the masthead that discloses advertisers that have been covered in previous issues. How ethical! --Jenna Fisher

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