This Friday, MSU’s Class of 2006, myself included, will attend commencement in all its pomp-and-circumstance glory. We’ll place the caps upon our heads (now bursting with knowledge) and stroll our world-class educated selves across the stage and on to start the rest of our lives. Or at least that’s how the story goes.
Whoever’s idea was it to call it “commencement,” which signifies the beginning of something, to me, was a little delusional. It is the end of something. The end of college, of 16-odd years of education, and of any semblance of childhood with we\’re left to cling. The. End. Good. Bye. Who are we kidding calling it a commencement? Of course we’re beginning the giant REST that lies ahead, but come on. Graduation is the end of the four-or-so years of forgiven mistakes, endless nights of (mostly) harmless debauchery, days spent formulating passions and friendships, and challenges to almost everything we thought we knew. [seh2]
\”I went to the doctor, I went to mountain, I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain. There’s more than one answer to all these questions, they keep pointing me in a crooked line. And the less I seek myself for some definitive, the closer I am to fine\”
I’ve spent the last three years of my life completely dedicated to this magazine, living and breathing it (sometimes a little too much) and giving it my life while giving it life. In these last two years as editor-in-chief I’ve seen it through from the unstable years when we were on a fawn’s legs, into now – when I can honestly say it is a much-needed and well-established alternative voice. Are we perfect? Not even close. But are we here and not going away? God, I hope so.
After my four years at MSU (yes, four), with most of that spent toiling over how to make this magazine better, I still maintain that if I know anything it’s that I know nothing at all. The more I learn, the more I feel there is even more out there to be known.
So, as it turns out I don’t have any parting brilliance for anyone. All I have are my memories (and since I discovered a love for titling), here\’s a titled retrospective of my years as editor, the lessons I\’ll remember and the people I\’ll never forget.
Late Spring 2004
The Little Magazine that… Could It?
In an unexpected swoop, I became a scared sophmoric editor in late March of 2004. How was this magazine supposed to stay afloat? How were we going to stay fresh in a time of a swiftly changing online media? Were people going to want to read us? Would they want to write for us? These questions floated in my 19-year-old brain. With the vision of TBG\’s original designer, Ernie Smith, we headed for a summer of reconstruction and faced sharp staff turnovers. Summer 2004 was when TBG you see now was born. This collaborative labor of love was about to head into an uncertain year.
It’s Not Easy Being Green
Really, Kermit wasn’t kidding. The new staff had to build a magazine from the ground up. We stumbled and fell a few times but always got back up to come out with another issue…every week. We got our feet wet with little gems on East Lansing politics, a certain Jordanian café worker and an article on an elephant treadmill so ridiculous that only Molly Benningfield could have written it. We were beginning to figure out our purpose – to do stories on what matters to students but that our newspaper didn’t have time for – and to do them in an in-depth manner that was both substantive and never self-serious. What do you get when you throw six bad-ass chicks onto a brand new editorial staff? Mayhem, glorious mayhem. And some pretty creative messes and masterpieces.
The Long Drive Home
With a whole year of steady publication under our belt, I decided to throw out the formula and start over as a monthly with more in-depth, heady and issue-oriented magazine writing. After a few bumps in the beginning we rode along without too much stress, mapping the terrain as we went. Soon some of the bumps that could throw us off before looked familiar and were easier the second time around. Settling into the monthly format, we came across more of our purpose – to use our voice for the public good. We found our niche, the place for some 40 \”homeless\” journalists, photographers and designers to hang our media hats. The sometimes thankless and tiring job of editing finally paid off for us when we threw a successful fundraiser, The Big Green Benefit Bash, in April and raised $1400 for AIDS orphans. No one thought we could pull it off. But yet again, would anyone that read TBG three years ago think we\’d be this far now? No, and myself included. But we are, and with a strong, smart and sassy 2006-2007 staff, I\’m sure we will continue to
\”I spent four years prostrate to a higher mind – got my paper, and I was free!\”
Thank you to everyone on TBG staff and to our readers in the last three years who believed in a little magazine when no one else did.
On a personal level there are many to thank for many reasons, some obvious and some obscure. Thank you to Bill McWhirter for magazine-ness. Thank to you to Penny Gardner for radicalness. Thank you to my family and friends for happiness. Thank you to each and every writer, photographer, designer, and copy editor for your efforts, dedication and faith. Thank you to my fellow editors this year and last. Thanks for the good times, the deadlines, for putting up with me, for trusting me, for teaching me.
I suppose the powers that be did not have it totally wrong calling graduation a commencent. It\’s the end of something huge in our young lives, and the beginning of everything else beyond it. Here’s to whatever\’s next. Here\’s to the rest.
**song lyrics from \”Closer to Fine\” by the Indigo Girls**