Out of the 180,000 or so words I've scribbled (and a few million more I've edited) over 117 issues of this magazine, none come quite so tough as these. I've never been good at good-byes, so I'll just say it straight out: This is my last issue of Utne.
My office, with the sweeping view of Loring Park, is cleaned out. Nina brought platters of nachos, tamales, and quesadillas into the Utne library for a grand going away party, which continued throughout the evening in a series of nearby barrooms. Farewells have been made, often two or three times, with everyone on staff.
Now, all that's left is to thank you -- the amazing readers of Utne -- for your support and your critiques through the years. You've emboldened me to push farther, to probe deeper, and to soar higher than editors at most other magazines would dare.
In many ways, I grew up at Utne. It's where I met my wife, Julie, where I continued my education in subjects ranging from global politics to blues music, where I came of age as a writer, where I first learned about a thousand new ideas that I've tried out in my life. It's been a privilege to work at this great magazine over the past 19 years.
By the time you read this I will be at my new position as executive editor of Ode, an independent magazine from the Netherlands that has launched an international edition published in English. It's a tremendous opportunity to continue along a path that Utne opened up for me.
My greatest satisfaction through the years at Utne has been the chance to research, from the ground up, issues like alternative movements in Germany, a renewable energy think tank in Colombia, and day-to-day life in Russia. My new job offers me an opportunity to focus on these kinds of important and inspiring issues. While remaining based in Minneapolis, I will be writing and editing articles that help shine new light on what's happening all around the planet for a global audience.
The reason I can leave Utne in such high spirits is that I know the magazine remains in good hands. My successor is Karen Olson, who has shown remarkable talents in five years at the magazine, rising from assistant editor to associate editor to senior editor to managing editor and now editor. The editorial team as a whole is one of the best in the business, not to mention some of the most interesting and colorful people around. There is no topic imaginable, from Japanese poetry to wildlife biology to the inside scoop on certain movie stars, about which someone on the staff is not impressively well-informed. I will dearly miss our wild and woolly meetings, where I always came away with a half-dozen dazzling ideas and a hoarse throat from laughing at full volume. And, just like all of you, I wait with excitement to see what they come up with for the next issue.
Jay Walljasper can now be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org