From the Stacks: September 22, 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

Good news for fans of independent-minded music:
Paste, a bimonthly magazine before August,
now fills newsstands and mailboxes twice as often. The October
issue of the magazine, which spans beyond the music beat into the
realms of film and culture, spites pop-culture cynics who say good
TV doesn’t exist with a rundown of the best shows out there today
(think the Colbert Report and Veronica Mars).
Paste‘s makers balance the issue with a healthy dose of
music reviews, notably one of ’emo progenitor’ Jeremy Enigk’s
10-years-in-the-making release World Waits. The former
front-man of indie rock band Sunny Day Real Estate went solo after
he found Jesus, but reviewer Corey duBrowa assures fans that Enigk
doesn’t use his ‘throat-lump-inducing vocal gift’ to evangelist
ends, but rather to convey a wonder of life that rises from the
roots of his faith. — Suzanne Lindgren

Sun Monthly is a hopeful newsprint
publication out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, that brings a feast of
informed optimism to its audience. Among the headlines in the
September issue: ‘A Permaculture Paradise,’ ‘ElderGrace: How Santa
Fe Seniors Are Building Community,’ and ‘Sink or Flow?: A Yoga
Novice Braves Uncharted Waters.’ In a guest editorial entitled,
‘Ocean Power Can Be a Global Warming Cure,’ Neil Peirce explains
emerging energy technology meant to tap the power of tidal
currents. It is just such a mix that reveals Sun Monthly‘s
major draw — the ability to be both forward-thinking and
unpretentious at once. — Suzanne Lindgren

Published by The Mountaineers Books,
The Art of Rough Travel: From the Peculiar to
the Practical, Advice from a 19th Century Explorer
by
Sir Francis Galton is a pragmatic companion for the aspiring
bushwhacker. Thankfully, given the author’s penchant for
verbosity, this version has been edited and abridged from
Galton’s fifth version, published in 1872. Throughout the
standard survival guide narration, Galton offers delightfully
amusing advice, such as how to stash valuables beneath the flesh
of one’s arm, build a fire in a boat, befriend an elephant with
a banana, and extract rainwater from clothing. Centuries after
its initial publication, Galton’s guide promises to inform and
entertain even the seasoned outdoorsperson. — Elizabeth
Ryan

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