A few weeks ago, I went to a memorial service in New York for Howard Rower, a dear friend and early investor in the magazine. Patch Adams, the clown/visionary/M.D. who treats patients for free, was sitting next to me and entertaining a little girl with an impressive array of clown paraphernalia during the service. Howard would have approved.
After the service, Patch turned to me and grabbed my arm. This may not be even close to what he said, but this is what I heard: "You’re lying. We’re facing extinction, and you have the power vested in the magazine. If you don’t speak up louder, you are lying. Everywhere I go people are unhappy. There is so little joy. We need communities and we need a revolution based on love. I would apologize for coming on so strong, but I see in your eyes that you are relieved to hear truth." With that, he inspected my son’s oozing, swollen toe (no charge).
Two days later I was in Colorado lying on a bed next to my friend Ginny, whose 14-year siege of illness—breast cancer, Ménière’s disease, and parasites, to name a few—would defeat the average mortal. But she bounces back again and again, luminously and incongruously beautiful, full of laughter and wisdom, as she was that morning, miraculously well for the first time in a month. "I don’t understand this any better than I ever have," she said, "but I do know that we are living out of love, moment to moment, or we’re not. It’s that simple."
People like Patch and Ginny are making radical and courageous choices: choosing love over fear, joy over cynicism, activism over inertia, truth over denial. They also offer support and empower others to grow.
So what would it be like to make choices like these the basis of running a business?
The other day, Julie Ristau and Margaret Klis, my co-publishers, and I stretched out rolls of newsprint and started mapping all the new initiatives we’ve undertaken in recent months here at Utne Reader. When we finished, we stood back and realized that everything we’re doing has community at its center. From our online café to empowering our staff to new connections with allies in the publishing and activist worlds, we’re talking about how to create more effective community.
I think about you, the 225,000 people who buy this magazine, and all the communities you touch and how all of us have the ability to choose love moment to moment. That is an awesome amount of power, particularly since, as Patch says, "The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy."
SPEAKING OF POWER, on page 7 you’ll find a special advertising section, "A Small Company with a Big Political Voice," from Working Assets. Our stalwart ally for more than 12 years,Working Assets is committed to supporting crucial political causes. I am a longtime customer, using their long-distance service and carrying their credit card, as are 45,000 of our readers. If many more of you joined us, it could mean more than $2 million going to activist groups and nonprofit organizations working on important causes and a half-million messages on urgent issues reaching public officials and corporations. Talk about the power of collective action.
P.S.: The cute guy on the cover is Scott Anderson, apple of the eye of art director Kristi Anderson.