Packing for a Move: David Schimke Says Farewell

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Moving is never easy, especially when the place you’re leaving feels like home.

I still remember when my family sold the rambler where I spent my preteen years and relocated to a higher tax bracket. The split-level was just across town, but it might as well have been a hundred miles away. Not only was I leaving behind my best friends and only memories, I knew I’d have to prove myself all over again in the classroom and on the playground. Even at the age of 12, that sort of social commotion is daunting.

Living in a bigger house had its perks, though. For me, it meant a remodeled bedroom in the basement, complete with faux brick paneling and red shag carpeting. Because I already had subscriptions to Sports Illustrated and Genii: The Conjurer’s Magazine, my dad’s final touch was to build a special, standalone bookshelf to display my favorite periodicals. By the time I graduated high school, it was stacked with issues of Newsweek, Spy, Sport, Village Voice, and The New Republic. I didn’t know it at the time, but in retrospect my journey as a journalist was predestined.

For the past seven years I’ve spent my working life surrounded by magazine shelves. Dozens of them, populated by more than a thousand titles, jam-packed with audacious reporting, dazzling prose, big ideas, and beautiful dreams. I’ve gotten to collaborate with a multitude of gifted editors and incomparable writers from around the globe, singularly driven by their passion for stories truthfully, cleverly told. To curate this bounty has been a privilege; to do it as the editor in chief of Utne Reader, an honor.

And now, once again, I find myself packing for a move.

The decision to leave this extraordinary place didn’t come easily. But when Ogden Publications decided to transfer Utne‘s offices from Minneapolis to its nerve center in Topeka, Kansas, it felt like the right time to push back the desk chair and consider new vistas–to repurpose and reimagine what I’ve learned about the environment, social justice, community, and the world’s political, economic, and artistic potential.

I will miss our staff meetings, where there were no sacred cows, no preconceived notions, and where spirited debate led to inspired issues of the magazine. I will miss our loyal readers, who never hesitated to share their enthusiasms, their opinions, or their affections. I’ll even miss the deadlines, which brought out our best and never failed to leave us exhausted and exhilarated.

What I will miss most of all, though, are the men and women who lived and breathed this project during my tenure, despite the modest pay and scarce resources synonymous with the phrase “alternative media.” It was their true belief in the power of informed discourse, full-throated zeal for the printed word, and daring intellect that made all the difference.

Art director Stephanie Glaros; senior editors Keith Goetzman, Jeff Severns Guntzel, and Brad Zellar; associate editors Margret Aldrich, David Doody, Julie Hanus, Joseph Hart, Hannah Lobel, and Danielle Magnuson; librarian and columnist Danielle Maestretti; online editors Bennett Gordon, Elizabeth Ryan, and Will Wlizlo; copy editor Lynn Marasco; research editors Chelsey Perkins and Michael Rowe; publisher Judy Rudrud; creative director Wayne Wolf; founders Eric and Nina Utne; and the woman who brought me in off the street, editor in chief Karen Olson:

You are family. You made Utne Reader home. And I will never forget you.

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