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
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: