Place is an important part of how we construct our identities, which is why it's no surprise that three of our nominees in this category seek to explore it (the other two are Conveyer and Minneapolis Observer Quarterly). Of the three, New England Watershed casts an exceptionally wide lens on a variety of questions pertaining to regional identity. Each issue of the magazine focuses on one theme-food and farming, mental health, Interstate 91-and examines it through a variety of cultural and historical perspectives.
Indeed, New England Watershed reads like a toolbox of ideas-and it's supposed to, says Russell Powell, the editor and publisher. He views the influx of locally focused publications as a hopeful sign that more people may look to regional identities to articulate common ground with folks from other parts of the country. This sort of approach, he says, will contribute to more complex debates at the national level: 'You have to know who you are and what you believe in before you can really engage.'
Subscriptions: $33.75/yr. (6 issues); 413/247-3201; www.newenglandwatershed.com.