From the Editor: Local Music

This is our first Local Music Issue.  Are you kidding?  Every issue could be a Local Music Issue.  Every issue should be a Local Music Issue.  

Under an early deadline, I’m listening to Rogue Valley’s “Onward and Over” right now as I’m typing this letter, a wee bit frantic.  This morning, I drove to the office with the soon-to-be-released Minnesota Beatle Project Vol. 3 playing old songs done in new ways by the likes of Cloud Cult, Charlie Parr, Cantus, and the Anoka Middle School for The Arts.  Tuesday, I received no fewer than eleven press releases for Holiday music shows happening in the upcoming weeks.  Monday, we shot the cover with Erin Schwab at The Town House just a day after I’d heard her open up the Charlie Awards at the Pantages with a rousing rendition of “Be Our Guest” Sunday afternoon.  Sunday evening, those of us at the Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil closed the ceremony with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  The other weekend, people gathered at Blue Moon Coffee Cafe to hear Ann Reed perform and raise money to fight the anti-marriage amendment.

Music is soothing.  It’s reminiscent.  It’s new. It’s seasonal.  It’s celebratory. It’s theatrical. It’s an obituary.  It’s political.

Music is around us.  People here steep in the arts, no matter what our heritage.  Drum circles happen.  Gospel moves.  Strings pull us. Woodwinds mellow.  Rock courses through veins.  Rhythm makes us move.  The moment a voice finds harmony with another is ecstasy.

The welcoming arms of music have always been a safe haven.

It’s now December.  Time for the holidays, time for memories, time for warmth and welcoming.

I was born in St. Paul, squalling in four-part harmony in Bethesda Hospital’s nursery. I can’t not find music.  I might be the one standing next to you at a candlelit service, singing the alto part.  Or, I may be rubbing elbows with you at the the Mixed Blood Theatre (Erin Schwab, December 10-11), Ginkgo Coffeehouse (Ellis’s annual food drive, December 16), or the Varsity Theater (Rogue Valley, December 21).  Perhaps we’ll sit next to each other at the TCGMC show at Tedd Mann Concert Hall–I love me some swing.  Or, maybe we’ll ring in the New Year together?

I hope you find time to find music this season.  Or, let it find you.

Many thanks,


From the Editor: Gifts. Holidays. Giving. Doing. Showing. Asking.

Researching and sourcing items for the Gift Guide has as much to do with you, as the readers, as it does with us, as the writers.  We think about what you might want, being members of this community, but we also think of what we might want, being similar members.  We hope that by thinking about what we might like, it might resonate with what you might like.  The same happens with every article that is written: “What might the readers want to read?” is hand in hand with “What might I like to read?”  Then, when we have a wide representation of writers, we get closer to meeting the needs of the community.  Or, so we hope.


Have you noticed just how diverse this community is?  How many facets there are to this diamond?  It’s brilliant.


We’re not quite there in our goals of being representative, but we’re getting closer every day.  So, I would like to run my Wish List past you and see if it resonates.  Let’s see if by articulating my wishes they might turn into another set of gifts.  For you.


An Editor’s Wish List:

1.  Feedback.  If you want something or like something, let us know.  If you dislike something or have a suggestion as to what we’re missing, clue us in.  The more you can tell us, the better.


2.  Give us story ideas.  At this point, the Editorial area at Lavender has undergone a reorganization of Franklin-Covey proportions.  We are more equipped than ever to take your ideas and thoughts and news.  If we have been remiss in the past, we apologize.  We’re listening now and, though it may not be immediate, we hope to follow-up on any leads you send our way.


3.  Use our online Calendar.  Yes, let us know that you’ve got an event in case we want to cover it, but please take the control in your hands to upload your events so our community can see them.  Because I ask for feedback (see also #1) and story ideas (see also #2), our resources need to be dedicated elsewhere.  Your events are just as important, so please share them.


4.  Ask the businesses you use if they would consider partnering with Lavender for advertising.  No, we don’t want to return to the days when we looked like a “shopper,” but yes, advertising is a healthy relationship for publications to have benefiting both the advertisers and the readership.  Just think if every reader asked a business about advertising in the community’s publication–it would have a ripple effect that would benefit the whole community, simply by illustrating how important it is for this community to be part of the larger business conversation.


5.  Ask us how we can help your business.  It’s a funny thing, how the GLBT community fits into the categories of small business, big business, minority-owned business.  It does, to be certain.  And, there are success stories and stories of struggle that span well beyond sexual orientation and identity, but how? What does it mean? We want to know your business, how you do it, and how you can share with the community what you’ve learned as you go.


6.  Tell a few people about us.  About one in every ten conversations that I have about Lavender includes a moment when I think, “Have you cracked open one of our magazines lately?”  When I hear, “You don’t cover women’s issues.”  “I don’t see any people of color.”  “Is Mr. Andy Lien available?”  “When did you go glossy?”  “It’s all bars and sex.”  We have a tremendous growth opportunity here…and, the converse of all those statements are not bad, in and of themselves.  We can cover men…and white people…and I can be a guy…and we could be in newsprint…and content about bars and sex isn’t bad content…but, we’re moving into a broader spectrum.  I understand that I have to make sure that the proof is in the pudding.  But, if you were to simply name-drop Lavender in your circle of friends or colleagues, it may jog a thought in their minds that maybe they should give us a second glance (or third…fourth, even).


And there it is.  I’m sure I’ll think of things as I’m falling asleep that I wish I would have included, but really…I’ve asked for enough.


Groan if you want, I’m going to say it anyway:  Your readership is a gift.  And we are grateful.


From the Editor: Lavender's Land of Oz


Fab.  I’m feeling fab today.  It’s Friday.  We’re sending the second half of the Fab 50 issue to press.  The weekend is next.  And I’ve got so much to tell you.

I realize that I’m running the risk of overusing a tired metaphor in this community when I make this next statement, but I’m going to do it anyway: Running a magazine is a lot like The Wizard of Oz.  There are yellow brick roads leading to this place and that.  Sometimes, there’s singing, even a little dancing.  People of all ilk and ages and interests are cheering and waving while conducting their business and going about their daily lives.  There might be a few flying monkeys—maybe even some nefarious characters, but I’m not going to take the metaphor into too dark an area.  We have quests and challenges and guards to convince to let us through the big doors.  We’ve got Kings of the Forest and people with heart and brains and courage.  The horse has changed its color every time you turn around.

Smoke and mirrors would be easy to employ as a means to distract and divert, but I’m just not interested.

Here is where we start to depart from the comparison a bit.

I’m not interested in a curtain to hide behind, either.

This community has historically had its fill of run-around and double-speak.  We’re analytical and tend to default toward the skeptical.  It makes sense.  It’s been a requirement for survival.  As we venture outward and upward, out of closets…and out from behind curtains…we get stronger as a community.  Issue 429, though thin, is huge.  In its pages is content that is bona fide.  It’s backed by stats.  It’s truthful and honest and representative of you.  And, it represents you more the more you participate.

The 2011 Fab 50 contest was tightened up this year to include Fabulicious Finalists that were determined based on previous Fab 50 winners, the results of other publications’ award programs, and new industry knowledge.  Not everyone could be a Finalist, so write-ins were encouraged.  Using an online survey platform, voting was easier and the results were crystal clear and beyond reproach.  See?  There’s no big green projected head telling you what you should hear or think or know—while scaring your terrier and sending your Cowardly Lion running with a booming voice and flamethrower.  They are your results as determined by you.  And, if you don’t agree, perhaps you should cast your votes next year.  We hope you do.

Many congratulations to the winners.  Our community thinks you’re fabulous.

Also, this issue has in it one partial page that is the key to Emerald City.  It’s ridiculously understated for its significance.  It is the introduction to Lavender’s new website.  Go to and turn the key.  What you’ll see is the framework that is ready for you and what you want to know about.  Being a publication that has always been free to its community, our page numbers have gone up and down with advertising dollars.  We get to give you more content when we have more advertisers in our pages.  Advertisers get more readers when we get to present more content.  This relationship works best when we understand that we have to deliver great content at the same time as the advertisers understand that they need our readers to see their businesses.  This economy isn’t making this relationship very easy, either.  So, in order to make sure that our audience gets what it deserves (breadth and depth in content), we developed our new website.  The website will be the primary vehicle for both the content and the advertisers as we evolve into embracing new media and everything it can offer us.  And, the biweekly glossy magazine will become more of a cherrypicked showcase of what is the best our community has to offer to itself every two weeks.

What will happen is that we’ll have this gorgeous collection of content.  My role as an editor will turn into more of the role of a curator—finding talent and content and figuring out when and where to display it; accepting submissions and assigning commissions; looking to the future and keeping my eyes and ears open to what the community wants.

Here’s the key.  Walk in, take a look around, see what you think, and let us know.

Without the smoke and mirrors, you’ll see that all of this is still a piece of work that’s under development.  It’s evolving.  It’s got its flaws and we’ll fix them as we find them.  There are articles on that site that are years old that have yet to be categorized, but we’ll get to them.  They’re both time capsules of policies past as well as being articles that are still relevant and worth revisiting.  There is so much—and I am incredibly fortunate to have inherited what I have.  Fortunate and tired.  Believe me, taking over the role of editor of a biweekly magazine at the same time as developing a website is not the sanest career move—more than once did I want to find a hot air balloon and fly back to Omaha and out of Oz.  But, if Lavender agrees to pay for reblonding my new grey hairs for a while, we’ll call it good.  And, we’ll keep plugging away at making our community more interactive in all its differences and similarities.

Hopefully, we’ll find that staying in Oz and going Home aren’t mutually exclusive options any longer.

With thanks,


From the Editor: Politics as Usual?

Halloween and Politics: Two subjects that our publication should be soaking in until our fingers get pruney.  The season is changing, the costumes are coming out, and the politics are borderline gruesome—as usual.

I ran up to Duluth for a day this past week and landed smack dab at the right place at the right time.  I wasn’t supposed to be there—it was a whim.  My friend Chrissy is a faculty member at the University of Minnesota in Duluth and I arrived at her office door on National Coming Out Day just in time for a special 6th Annual National Coming Out Day Luncheon. I joked that only I could manage to take off a day and head up to the North Shore and end up at a Coming Out Day event. Timing.  It’s all in the timing.  And what a time it was.  The ballroom was full of people observing a day that demands reverence and celebration.  We listened to Deborah Petersen-Perlman (top, left) recount the history of National Coming Out Day.  UMD student, Sovann Khong (middle), told us of bullying and being locked out of his own home as brutal accents of his own coming out story. Jake Caceres (top, right) regaled us with “The Caveman Song” which was a crowd-pleaser to say the least.  Gary Anderson (lower, left) gave a moving update of what’s going on with Duluth and Minnesota United for All Families and Angie Nichols (lower, right) ended the program, leaving us all with a sense of empowered togetherness.

Sitting there, I looked around at a group of people that was gathered for greatness.  I thought about how these issues of bullying and civil rights are drawing us out in greater numbers.  How, by being drawn out and united, we’re actually making the world smaller.  I certainly didn’t feel like I was in a ballroom on a university campus 160 miles from where I’d started that morning. I could’ve walked into an event happening downtown and been hit with the same purpose, the same sense of accomplishment, and the same sense of unity.

Unity.  As you read through this issue, think of the politics that are presented.  We’ve got five of the more recognized parties speaking out in these pages—many of which talk about personal agency and rights.  Oddly unifying. From the people of faith to the atheists against the marriage amendment, there are differences to be sure.  But, there are so many points of unity.  There is an abundance of ways to make this world smaller as we fight the same fight toward the same goal: Rights.  Civil, human, equal.

Sometimes it’s being in the right place at the right time…and sometimes it’s simply walking out the door and looking around.  Look around.  See each other.  Feel stronger.

As the only GLBT publication in the region, Lavender is there with you.  We’re unifying and presenting information to foster a continued discussion.  I really mean it when I say that I’m committing Lavender to this conversation.  Please hold me to it.


With thanks,



From the Editor: Rocky Horror Heels

There’s something about growing up in Minnesota that makes the prospect of seeing Don Shelby in fishnet stockings and heels a little bit thrilling. We went to THE LAB theater to do a photo shoot with the actors of The Rocky Horror Show in preparation for this Fall Arts & Entertainment issue and I found myself surrounded by beautiful, talented people made up and dressed in all sorts of costume finery for their opening weekend. The props were ready, the smoke machine was prepped, the lights were up, and the camera was hot.

As was the shoot.

Each time we have a photo shoot, I want to push the limits. Any of the other magazines in town can get the standard photos of what to expect during the production. I like to put the Lavender spin on the artwork. What we can do is mix and match with a little more wanton abandonment than the other publications. We can showcase the intersections of sexuality. We can get a little cheeky. And, we can ask more of the models.

I said to Don, “You know, I want to make sure that you’re comfortable doing whatever it is you end up doing. I’d like to push a little, but not too far. I’ll follow your lead.” I’d been thinking that it’d be fun to put him in a silk dressing gown with feather accents…you know, make it a little saucy, but not over the top.

The Narrator and Rocky. Photo by Mike Hnida

A wry look crossed his face. He was game.

Don found himself a boa and offered to don his platform heels. I declined the heels, thinking we could tease the readers to come and see the show rather than show too much in the magazine. We’d keep his coverage fairly tame.

Then, he pulled his “sassy” move.

As it turns out, I didn’t need to worry about Don Shelby. He improvised his own shots.

Enjoy this issue, readers. We are rife with arts and entertainment here in the Twin Cities and it’s our pleasure to show it off for you in Lavender’s pages.

With thanks,

From the Editor: Always Learning

Back To School

A trio of lovely ladies spoke with me at the meet-up at the State Fair the other day. The meet-up was informal, the 5th Annual Gay Day was unofficial, the people were real. As always. Quite seriously, they talked to me about how they thought that other T-girls might be afraid to come out in public to a large event such as the Fair. No doubt, they would be greatly outnumbered. But, Susanna, Brenda, and Tracy eagerly disagreed with that conclusion–there was nothing to fear coming all dressed up to the Fair. They do it all the time, dressed as any women would dress who are going to the Great Minnesota Get Together (better than most, in my opinion).

I opined with them over how I wondered if it is really safe and, if it is, do we just not know it, yet. Are we waiting for an all-clear signal? Proof? Perhaps. Or, is it generational?

My theory is that it is generational.

“It” being defined as being able to express whatever gender identity someone chooses to express. Of course, “choose” could be a problematic term, too, as choice may not be part of the equation.

I told them about the incredible young people I met while putting together this issue: the campers at the GLBT church camp “The Naming Project” and the older students involved in our fashion photo shoot later in these pages. With grace and humor, the campers were your usual squirrelly high-schoolers…but with a more evolved sense of self than most high-schoolers I’d encountered. They had language with which they could define themselves, if they wanted to, or they could decide to leave themselves undefined. But, somewhere along the way, they’d been given the gift of that language. We didn’t have it yet in college back in 1995, I know that. When they were given it, I don’t yet know. In one of the multiple poignant interviews that I taped (that can be seen online), one of the students introduced himself: “My name is Caleb…I am a heterosexual transgender male and I am also a Christian. Um…I guess the big thing I’d want to say would be that just because I haven’t had the surgery does not mean that I’m not a man and I am not a human being.”

He broke my heart. There might be language, but there is still a hard reality despite the beauty of the language.

We held the photo shoot for the fashion portion of this issue at Macalester College, my alma mater and one of the gayest/gay-friendly colleges in the United States. When I sent out my requests for student models, I specifically asked each for an “Identified Gender” and wanted them to fill in the answers themselves rather than give them options from which to choose. Not surprisingly, one of them returned the questionnaire with “genderqueer.” As I recounted this experience to the ladies at the Fair, I told Susanna, Brenda, and Tracy that it all seemed so normal to the students.

Normal. How do we define normal? Perhaps the definition I’m looking for is one that’s claimed by the people—rather than assigned to the people. In their state of being normal, there seemed to be an ease to them. When one of the students replied that she dresses in men’s clothing, I asked, “Would you like to get outfitted for a swank suit at Heimie’s?” She enthusiastically replied that she would. She didn’t skip a beat. I don’t know how Nichole felt when going to the Haberdashery and getting sized for her clothes, but she donned them for the photo shoot and everything appeared to be done with ease.

Maybe she wouldn’t have batted a mascara-less eyelash at joining us at the State Fair, either. Plenty of the students would’ve been there with Susanna, Brenda, and Tracy—and the other fine folks in their Gay Day glory—in a heartbeat in all their genderqueer ease. Their apparent fearlessness. Their comfort. Their normalcy.

It would have been wonderful for them to meet their predecessors—all of the folks at the Fair who were wearing red for Gay Day. The people who, largely, enabled the community to have a shift in language simply by existing…or fighting…or demonstrating on college campuses like Macalester.

And, I think that Susanna, Brenda, and Tracy would’ve been so proud of them and their fearlessness. Just like I am.

With thanks,

Church Camp: The Naming Project

Summer camp. Youthful memories of a time of life when things were figured out between trips to the ballpark or mall. Life was sort of complicated in the way that only teenagers can complicate things. Camp was when those complications were concentrated and compacted into a time and place away from home; away from the usual rhythm of life. It was a brief stint of heaven or hell, depending upon who ended up in the lower bunk. Was reality suspended or was it a microcosm of the larger world? Homesickness. Puppy love. Learning to kayak. Swimming past the buoy. Generic peanut butter. Outhouses. Woven potholders in wacky colors. Capture the Flag. Campfires. Bugspray. Permanently damp swimsuits. Tie-dyed t-shirts.


Shame. Condemnation. Fear. Confusion.

How would camp have been different had it been geared toward GLBT and Allied youth? Some might say that it couldn’t have existed. Summer camp was church camp…and no such topic of sexual orientation would be allowed or addressed. If not church-based, summer camp was just summer camp and nobody talked about such things. Or, they did. But, they did so in secret.

That was then. 15 years ago or 50 years ago, the time of silencing the identity and discovery of young people is over. The long, painful history of denying sexual orientation and identity as part of the discourse in faith communities has passed.

Now, there is The Naming Project. One of a handful of camps in North America for gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-identified, allied, and questioning youth, The Naming Project organization started its formation in 2002 as an answer to the question, was there a place where a gay youth could go to discuss sexuality as well as spirituality?

It was a simple—but revolutionary—question. No, there was not.

Since then, the founders of The Naming Project—Jay Wiesner, Ross Murray, and Brad Froslee—have built a multi-faceted organization with programming to help GLBTA youth learn, grow, and share their experiences. It includes outings to worship and fellowship experiences; resources for youth and parents; workshops and conversations for youth in schools, communities, and churches; workshops for youth workers, parents, and congregations; and, as seen here, a five-day summer camp for youth at Bay Lake Camp near Garrison, Minnesota.

The camp is on an island. Metaphorical or literal, the shift in reality is palpable.

What is found on the island is unconditional acceptance. There is enlightenment. Something is known there that has yet to be fully articulated elsewhere:

Whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-identifying, an ally, or questioning, you have been created and named as “a beloved child of God.”

Again, revolutionary. To come from a society where GLBT individuals are called names throughout their lives, it was an imperative of The Naming Project that the youth know that in being created, baptized, and called they are given another name, “Child of God.”

Though on an island, the work of The Naming Project is not relegated to its boundaries. The youth leave Bay Lake with a charge to see how they fit into society and figure out what they can do to make it better which, by simply existing, they already do.

The Naming Project has been featured on Our America with Lisa Ling and in the documentary Camp Out.


A Beginner's Guide to a Lynx Game*

I went to my first Minnesota Lynx game on August 30 when they smacked the Washington Mystics at the Target Center, 73-56. I was worried; I’ve gone to one professional basketball game in my life…about eight years ago. I didn’t know how to go to a basketball game. “Smacked?” Is that the right word for trouncing the opponent in such a fashion? At one time, they were up by 20 points…the first half was a little iffy, but by the end it was clear: Our WNBA team is on their way to the playoffs and I fully expect a smackdown the whole way to the Championship. Big talk from someone who just went to her first Lynx game, but if there’s one thing I know about beginners and sports, we don’t take chances. This sounds like a sure thing.

What’s also a sure thing is that you should be at the games.

Never been to a game, either? Don’t psych yourself out about it. Let me be of assistance.

Don’t sweat the venue. The Target Center is just like any other big building in downtown Minneapolis that people go to for an event. If you’re accustomed to going to Orchestra Hall or the Walker Art Center for concerts or exhibits, it’s the same thing to be going to the Target Center for basketball. You find a place to park, you go to the box office, you find your seat, and you settle in to give yourself up to the Lynx for couple of hours. The space may appear surprisingly small and intimate to a first-timer. I was impressed that the seats are so close to the floor–like going to a show at First Avenue over the Xcel Center. The action is right there in front of us–smackdown central.

Look around and catch the energy.
Be prepared to know people. Minnesota is lucky to have one of only 12 Women’s National Basketball Association teams in the United States and, of course, it’s no surprise that a large percentage of the Lynx fan base is from the GLBT community. If not in the community, itself, the seats are full of enlightened people who have caught on to the fact that we’ve got a stellar women’s basketball team. The fans are loyal and growing in number, as well they should be. And, chances are good that you know some of the other enlightened individuals in the seats. It’s an energetic, feel-good group of people.

Mastery of the game of basketball is not required. I was worried that I wouldn’t know what was happening on the boards, that someone would out me and I’d be asked to leave. Not at all. People are extremely willing to give the rookie some pointers and though I may not have understood why the whistle blew at particular times, I got the gist of it. Turns out, the back-to-back years that I watched Duke win the NCAA Championship with my older brother 20 years ago came in very handy for understanding which players were in what roles for the Lynx (as players, not as attitudes).

Get to know our players and coaches. There are 11 players. It’s catchy when the crowd croons “MAYAHHH” whenever Maya Moore makes a basket. Former Gopher Lindsay Whalen was the top scorer against the Mystics and Candice Wiggins gave an inspirational speech after the game about HIV/AIDS Awareness. The players are real and they’re worth getting to know. All of the players got time against the Mystics and each one of them scored. Cheryl Reeves is the Head Coach; Shelley Patterson and Jim Peterson are the Assistant Coaches. Watch the coaches–they can be as fascinating as the players and the game. Like any other organized sport, they use a body language and signals. And, they use them to win.

Appreciation is easy. You’re there to be involved so get caught up in the excitement of the game. These women are phenomenal athletes. Not to be conflated with the euphemistic “physical fitness” aspect of a beauty pageant, any athletic event is a time to appreciate the abilities of the human body. The strategies of the human mind. The chemistry of a team. And, the crisp air of a victory. Okay…and if that’s a bit too flowery for you, they’re wiping the boards with their opponents. That’s stinking awesome.

*To those of you who are die-hard fans, thank you for indulging me and reading this Beginner’s Guide to your Lynx games. Be prepared to see more of us newbies in the seats in this next month and your patience and assistance is appreciated. I promise, though, that a real sports writer will be covering the playoff games in our upcoming issues. I know when it’s my place to just watch and learn.

From the Editor: Boycotts and Story Arcs

One of the lesser-known (but probably predictable) aspects of my job at Lavender is catching up on old issues, literally and figuratively. When approached with an idea for a story, I have to run triage. What have we already said about it? What is the scuttlebutt and what is the nitty-gritty? Who’s been covering it and what have they said? Where is the issue going? What good or harm might come of it? Have we given too much attention to it or not enough? Where should it go? When should it run? Who should write it? Is someone pulling my leg?

I have a well-thumbed stack of Lavenders at home for those times when I don’t have the whole 1995-2011 office library at my fingertips. Odd hours of the day and night, I page through them to educate myself. I’ve always read Lavender, just not with quite the attention that should be paid the publication as by its editor. This issue, we’ve got the 25th Anniversary of Duluth-Superior Pride written by Angela Nichols in response to a mayday call I sent out at the last minute. Articles about fall getaways to Stillwater, Lake Pepin, and Duluth (with a special piece about the Olcott House) each show new aspects of old towns. Café Levain…we may have covered it in recent years, but the news is that Adam Vickerman’s back. Wanda’s State Fairy Guide is new and darned darling. And, we’ve got great photos of the community, the latest and greatest from the arts scene, and thoughtful commentary and witty remarks from our gallery of writers.

Then, we’ve got Target. Corporate giving. The boycott.

I reached for my stack of 26 issues and shuffled through them for the era involving the Emmer donation. A handful of covers ask the question, “Boycott Target?” Beyond the covers, the answers are hashed out. What a good exercise, to read the coverage—it helps me to get to know the writers, the topics, and the readers much, much better. Thoughtful Letters to the Editor, biting requests for more transparency, the grey between the black and the white. Plenty of anger and betrayal with a healthy dose of reality that, no, corporations are not necessarily our friends. But, what else?

When John mentioned that he had a piece about Target in the hopper, I was pleased to find out that it was about the efficacy of boycotting Target. When referring to story arcs in communications and publications, I appreciate the fact that we’re coming to our resolution with the question we raised over and over last year—“Boycott Target?”

I’m well aware of the “slacktivism” that runs rampant on social networking sites. Saying I’m for or against something–while not actually doing anything about it in my daily life–can be seen as a slacker’s approach to activism. Effective? In some cases. Numbers count, when it’s a sentiment or a petition. But, what happens with boycotting? When the click of the mouse isn’t really the action required to constitute the actual movement or demonstration, is it effective? By joining the boycott, I am not boycotting. To boycott, I must abstain from making purchases. Right?

I’m not going to go around and survey folks about whether or not they boycotted Target, either by mouse clicks or by withheld credit card swipes. Some of us did, some of us didn’t. Would the backlash have been felt so fiercely had there been no button to click to Boycott Target? If people hadn’t withheld their business? What would have happened in a time without social networking? What do we need to know as we move forward toward Election 2012? What have we learned?

Was it a question that needed to be asked?

Those questions are an editorial outline for the year ahead of us. In this issue, to round out the discussion about the efficacy of boycotting Target, Kaitlyn also asked the question of local non-profit organizations: “How do you prefer to receive donations? Does it matter if it’s from the corporations, themselves, or their employee groups? What matters?” Next issue, we’ll ask more of the large corporations in Minnesota and find out what they have to say.

It’s good to ask, it’s good to know. The shades of grey are deep and varied.

Let me know what you want us to ask. I’ll put it through triage and see what we can do.

With thanks,

End Notes:
“Roadtripping,” as in “Roadtripping Lake Pepin,” might not really be a word. I’m trying to turn it colloquial to get away with using it as much as I do.

We were a wee late in getting our issue to print because we’ve got the FIRST photos of Ross Mathews taken of him after losing 40 pounds. Please go online to to read more of Bradley’s interview with Ross (in which he talks about his weight loss) and see more photos of his stylish self hot off the camera. They were worth the wait.

Roadtripping Lake Pepin

One of the most beautiful stretches of Minnesota is found between Red Wing and Winona, along the Mississippi River. To be truthful, we owe a lot of credit to Wisconsin, as Lake Pepin is hard to enjoy wholly from only one of the two states. While I call this piece Roadtripping Lake Pepin, it’s somewhat of a misnomer. Feel free to end your trip when Lake Pepin does by crossing over to Wisconsin on Highway 25 at Wabasha, but I’d recommend seeing it through all the way down to Winona. This is a trip I’ve made each fall for many years and the adventure doesn’t feel complete without seeing a fair stretch of Bluff Country. Continue reading “Roadtripping Lake Pepin”