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November 15, 2008 Posted by | Animals, Barack Obama, Books, Cult, Current Events, Election 2008, Entertainment, Environment, Florida, Fun Stuff, Health, Helpful Resources, Humor, Iraq, John McCain, Letters to the Editor, Magazines, Military & War, Money, Movies, Music, News, News of the Wierd, Newspaper, Politics, Radio, Random, Religion, Rhode Island, Sarah Palin, Shopping, Sirius, Sirius Radio, Sports, Tampa Tribune, Television, Uncategorized, Utah, Utne, XM, XM Radio | Leave a comment

2007 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners

Below is a list of the 2007 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners. For more on the winners, read this PDF from the January/February 2008 issue.

General Excellence: Magazines
ColorLines

ColorLines, the 2007 general excellence winner, bills itself as “the national newsmagazine on race and politics,” but its scope is vastly broader. From economics, education, and the environment to immigration, queer issues, fine arts, and pop culture, ColorLines examines the myriad ways race—and our ideas about race—intersect with everyday life.

The Rants & Raves department showcases that mission in a nutshell, providing quick-hit analysis of the day’s top stories and “reading between the headlines” to commend and critique issues of race and class. These angles often go underreported, but ColorLines puts them front and center, as was the case when they wrote about a Dallas public elementary school where “for years, it was an open secret that white parents could get their children into all-white classes.”

The cover stories, though, are where ColorLines settles in, demonstrating essential perspective and sharp criticism. The May-June 2007 cover story, “For Sale: What New Orleans’ housing crisis reveals about race in American cities,” examines black communities struggling to resettle New Orleans and memorably calls for an “overdue debate on urban inequality.” In March-April 2007, we discovered “What Your Doctor Won’t See . . If conservatives make healthcare ‘colorblind.’ ”

In addition to political and social reporting, ColorLines excels as a source for arts coverage. “The Rise of Krip-Hop,” a write-up on disabled rap artists in the May-June 2007 issue, introduced us to a genre we’d simply not seen covered elsewhere. And the “Fiction Issue” (Nov.-Dec. 2006) makes the case that creative writers are political figures, and that fiction, in the words of managing editor Daisy Hernández, “creates for us the story of what people actually experience.”

The 10-year-old publication entered 2007 with a fresh redesign and a new bimonthly format (formerly quarterly). We couldn’t be happier to celebrate its success, and we’re looking forward to 2008.

General Excellence: Zines
Macaroni

A tall, slim, uncluttered zine that arrives four or five times a year, Macaroni takes on whatever its publisher, John Toren, feels like writing about—philosophy, travel, film, food—and it’s a surprisingly successful formula. In large part, this is due to Toren’s exquisite knack for writing and storytelling, which makes a page-turner out of practically anything. Even his reflections on working at a (now-defunct) book warehouse, which occupied the whole of a recent issue, proved a fascinating read. It helps, too, that he clearly still delights in making Macaroni, 20 years after he rolled out the first issue. His writing is amiable and his mind clear; his thoughts move seamlessly from, say, a book he’s been reading by French intellectual Alain Finkielkraut to a review of happy hour specials at local restaurants. The 20-some pages of Macaroni are, quite simply, as much a joy to read as they must be to write.

Best New Publication
Democracy

Heavy intellectual hitters in the world of politics, including Dennis Ross, Joseph Nye, Jr., and Anne-Marie Slaughter, have their say in the pages of Democracy. From the first issue, when Kathryn Roth-Douquet called on progressives to enlist in the military, this quarterly “journal of ideas” has consistently presented fresh perspectives on American foreign policy and politics. Democracy fills a void in today’s media landscape: It’s an intelligent, wide-ranging political magazine committed to “grooming the next generation of progressive thought-leaders.” Conservatives have magazines like the National Review, Commentary, and National Interest to arm their troops for battle. Editors Kenneth Baer and Andrei Cherny conceived their journal as a way for the left to do the same. Contributors often contradict each other, with every issue devoting space to responses to the previous issue’s points of view. Ultimately, the editors hope these disagreements, polemics, and discussions will strengthen the progressive movement in the United States.

Best Design
Theme

There’s an undeniable appeal to the theme-issue magazine, which is why even regular old publications occasionally drop the “music” issue or the “food” issue into the mix. But the real-deal, not-messing-around theme-issue magazines do it every time, presenting their subject area through myriad lenses, refracting their beat into one dazzling angle after the next. Theme (as you’d never guess from its title) does just that, and does it with serious style. The guiding subject is global Asian culture; each issue’s theme is whimsically specific (transplants, journals, nerds!); and the visual elements are always refined. Theme also excels at presenting all types of artwork in interesting, beautiful, and accessible ways. The “nerds” issue (Spring 2007) playfully showcases photography by Jing Cheng Quek, while the “journals” issue (Summer 2007) strikes just the right, albeit odd, tone for the disarming animal art of Lee Hyungkoo. Sometimes, Theme runs pieces that are all art, no text at all, save a headline. Like any best-design winner, Theme is consistent in its use of clean typefaces and ample white space, but it’s the way each issue’s distinct visual personality compliments its motif that pushed Theme to the top in 2007.

Best Writing
The Sun

Think of the Sun as an intimate forum where some of the finest contemporary writers share their most polished, provocative prose, and then everyone else is invited to join in. The magazine’s founder, Sy Safransky, has made it a priority to create an open environment for storytelling and exchanging ideas. “We’re all in the same boat—mysterious flesh-and-blood creatures, radiant and broken—and of course the boat is sinking, but there’s still time to share a story or two as the night comes on,” he writes in the January 2007 issue. The modestly-sized editorial staff consistently honors the art of writing while dabbling in interviews, memoirs, essays, fiction, and poetry. In “Reader’s Write,” one of our favorite sections of the magazine, readers are invited to contribute short pieces on a broad range of topics, such as “Airports” or “Nine to Five,” resulting in a lively, nationwide dialogue.

Arts Coverage
Film Comment

Smartly occupying a spot somewhere between vapid Hollywood celeb mags and austere film-scholar journals, Film Comment is for people who love movies and crave intelligent writing about them, without footnotes. Published by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Film Comment regularly publishes some of the best film writers in the world, and they probe and parse cinema in ways that deepen our experience of it and provide far more satisfaction than the average thumbs-up-thumbs-down review. In recent issues, Stuart Klawans of the Nation analyzed Michael Moore’s calculatedly polemic style, Barcelona-based film critic Manuel Yanez Murillo heralded Spanish director Carlos Saura, and Jonathan Romney plumbed the meaning of the dystopian Children of Men. Generously sized photos and a clean look make Film Comment a feast for the eyes, much like the movies it covers. After the lights come up, crack it open and enjoy.

In-Depth/Investigative Reporting
Intelligence Report

In a time when media reflection on the country’s race issues comes down to parsing the latest celebrity gaffe, Intelligence Report reminds us that organized, violent racism—often written-off as a troubling relic of a bygone era—endures. Published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the venerable Montgomery, Alabama-based civil rights organization, the magazine tracks extremist movements and their ideological ripples throughout society. In the Spring 2007 issue, for instance, it was reported that the number of hate groups in the United States has swelled along with the nation’s rising tide of populist anti-immigration sentiments, climbing 40 percent to 844 in a six-year period (2000 to 2006). The Winter 2006 cover story took aim at Latino gangs targeting African Americans in Los Angeles. In Fall 2007, the magazine exposed the “Watchmen on the Walls,” a virulent anti-gay group fomenting hatred among fellow Slavic immigrants in Sacramento. Managing their wide-ranging mission by carrying on the fine but increasingly rare tradition of old-school investigative journalism, the writers and editors weed through mountains of paper, work the phones, hit the pavement, and connect the dots.

Environmental Coverage
Earth Island Journal

Lots of magazines are covering the environment these days—is there one that hasn’t done a “green” issue?—but among those that make it their beat, Earth Island Journal stands out. The quarterly publication of the David Brower-founded Earth Island Institute, the Journal impresses us with its global perspective on environmental news, its clear presentation of complex issues, and an editorial gutsiness in its well-researched features and hard-hitting commentaries. In recent issues the magazine has written about the “killer spinach” of industrial agriculture, the risks presented by genetically modified trees, and, on the silver-lining tip, how to survive the transition to the post-oil economy. And we liked last fall’s story about the greenwashing of the nuclear industry so much that we reprinted it in the Jan.-Feb. 2008 issue of Utne Reader. The environment is surely the biggest news story of our day, and we’re glad Earth Island Journal is on it.

Health/Wellness Coverage
POZ

POZ serves one of the most diverse audiences out there: people living with HIV/AIDS. In the past year alone, this engaging magazine has covered rising infection rates in the Southern United States, homophobia and HIV stigma in Jamaica, new infections among senior citizens, the struggles of HIV-positive undocumented immigrants, and many other stories that we don’t see anywhere else. Each issue balances this brand of serious reporting with lighter, more upbeat pursuits, including profiles of AIDS activists, short first-person narratives, pop-culture snapshots, legislative and medical news, and health tips. It’s a vital resource on a subject that’s constantly skipped over by the mainstream media, and required reading for anyone interested in a more complete picture of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Political Coverage
The Chronicle of Higher Education

The premier source for all things scholarly, this weekly reader combines grade-A reportage with sharp, smart (dare we say, non­-academic?) prose­, to make a seemingly specialized beat both accessible and relevant to the broadest of audiences. The state of higher education is a political concern of deep import both domestically and around the globe. For that reason alone, this comprehensive, cleanly designed newspaper deserves recognition for its international scope. What raises its political coverage to elite status, though, is “The Chronicle Review,” a fearless, free-thinking section where academia’s best and brightest can take their gloves off and swing with abandon at both sides of the increasingly predictable political divide. Some of our favorite storylines from 2007: “Most everyone has a theory about why the poor stay poor. Most everyone is wrong”; “Sure, we should respond to terrorism with calm, tactical rationality. We should also call its perpetrators what they are: scum”; “Hats off to conservatives’ literary skills—but it’s easy to be entertaining when your ideas are simplistic and illogical.” Politically correct? Hardly. Ahead of the curve? Always.

Social/Cultural Coverage
Gastronomica

In a word: sumptuous. Perfect-bound, pages ever-so-slightly-glossy, Gastronomica feels heavier in your hand than 140-odd pages should. It’s clean and elegant, from its covers (a simple image, no text) to its content (blissfully free of advertising). It’s a perennial pleasure to devour, as satisfying intellectually as it is visually. For a journal with academic ties—it’s published by the University of California Press, and editor in chief Darra Goldstein and managing editor Jane Canova are from Williams College—Gastronomica is roundly accessible. The Summer 2007 issue, for instance, includes an interview with the developer of “vertical farming”; a photo essay shot in Tequila, Mexico, heavy on the agave plants; a critique of the cult of Michael Pollan (reprinted in Utne Reader’s Jan.-Feb. 2008 issue); a history of “food advice” in America; and a photograph of a “Happier Meal,” a tiny, adorable, felt reproduction of that edible cultural archetype.

International Coverage
Foreign Policy

If psychologists tried to analyze Foreign Policy, they’d probably diagnose the bimonthly with an acute case of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Whatever the rest of the world currently believes about global politics, Foreign Policy will find someone who disagrees. And, much to the consternation of political candidates and world leaders, the contrarian views espoused are often dead on. Founded by Samuel Huntington and Warren Demian Manshel and now published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the magazine seems to have hit its stride lately, winning a number of prestigious magazine awards in the last year. Editor Mosés Naím’s column “Missing Links” has become a must for anyone interested in global politics. Even the letters to the editor read like the faculty notes of a prestigious university, with professors, organization presidents, ambassadors, and congressional representatives writing in to make their opinions heard. Agree or disagree, every issue offers new and challenging perspectives on the ever-shrinking world in which we live.

Local/Regional Coverage
Alberta Views

The Canadian province of Alberta has a booming oil economy that has wrought environmental havoc, led to an immigration influx, and fueled a diverse and vibrant arts scene. The regional magazine Alberta Views navigates this far-ranging terrain with grace and intelligence, and although it calls itself “the magazine about Alberta for Albertans,” we respectfully disagree, since we find ourselves repeatedly drawn to its vivid writing. Sure, some of the political coverage is best left to the locals, but the “Eye on Alberta” section never fails to remind us of a north-of-the-border version of Harper’s “Readings,” and the feature reports and essays often touch on issues that resonate far beyond the province’s borders. We loved “Doing the Dirty Work,” in which a writer worked on oil rigs for two months, and “Mean Streets,” which reported on the province’s homeless population, the largest per capita in the country. Add savvy arts coverage of Alberta’s considerable creative output, and the result is a magazine we never want to miss.

Science/Tech Coverage
Science News

When a magazine lands in your mailbox at the relentless pace of once a week, it can seem more like a recycling burden than an intellectual treat. (Hell, sometimes even a bimonthly, no matter how great, can get lost in the informational onslaught.) That’s why we were all a bit surprised when the weekly Science News emerged as a clear favorite among a staff already buried under mountains of magazines-to-read. What’s their trick? One word: essential. Science News boils down the latest trends and findings in the ever-expanding world of science into must-know information. Clocking in at a slim 16 pages, Science News is packed with short, easy-to read round-ups from the week and quick blurbs on notable books. But there is depth here, too. Features this year have examined the long reach of urban air pollution, troubling schizophrenia rates among Pacific islanders, and the Arctic’s melting permafrost. Even if you’re not in touch with your inner science geek, you’ll find something to enjoy in this smart but accessible publication. Just make sure that, before you toss its recycled pages into the recycling bin, you’ve spent some quality time with it.

Spiritual Coverage
Shambhala Sun

The stated goal of the Canadian-based Shambhala Sun Foundation, which publishes this year’s winner, is to “promote the growth and development of genuine buddhadharma as Buddhism takes root in the West” and to “work with and support all those who share the values of wisdom, sacredness, and compassion.” Shambhala Sun, while clearly aligned with the nonprofit’s specific take on this brand of spirituality, stands out not so much as a doctrinaire instructional manual (there are other publications better geared for that task) as it does a user-friendly guide for culturally curious, searching souls. With a focus on health and wellness, and a decidedly gentle approach to the lifelong trial that is personal transformation, the editors tap a surprisingly diverse cast of philosophers, psychologists, educators, and storytellers to breathe life into its lessons, which ultimately boil down to a clearer vision of ourselves, our neighbors, and the world’s beauty and fragility.

Here is a list of all the 2007 Utne Independent Press Award Nominees

General Excellence: Magazines
ColorLines (Winner)
Columbia Journalism Review
Discover
Film Comment
Foreign Policy
Kyoto Journal
The Sun
The Wilson Quarterly

General Excellence Zines
Brainscan
Hungover Gourmet
Macaroni (Winner)
Moonlight Chronicles
Musea
Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore
Uncle Enos
You Don’t Get There From Here

Best New Publication
The American
Blackfly
Craft
The Crier
Democracy: A Journal of Ideas (Winner)
Make/shift
Meatpaper
Polite

Best Design
Beyond
Bidoun
Esopus
Heeb
Hyphen
Maisonneuve
Ninth Letter
Theme (Winner)

Best Writing
The Believer
Geist
L.A. Weekly
Maisonneuve
The New Republic
The Sun (Winner)
Virginia Quarterly Review
The Wilson Quarterly

Arts Coverage
Art Papers
BlackFlash
Bookforum
Film Comment (Winner)
New Statesman
No Depression
Paste
Raw Vision

In-Depth / Investigative Coverage
The Chicago Reporter
Columbia Journalism Review
GeneWatch
High Country News
Intelligence Report (Winner)
Mother Jones
The Texas Observer
The Village Voice

Environmental Coverage
Audubon
E Magazine
Earth Island Journal (Winner)
Environmental Building News
Orion
Sierra
Sustainable Industries Journal
Terrain

Health/Wellness Coverage
Alternative Medicine
CR Magazine
The Human Ecologist
Mothering
POZ (Winner)
Psychology Today
VegNews
Yoga Journal

Political Coverage
The American Prospect
The Chronicle of Higher Education (Winner)
City Journal
Dissent
Governing
The Nation
The New Republic
Reason

Social /Cultural Coverage
California
ColorLines
Dollars & Sense
Gastronomica (Winner)
Greater Good
Guilt & Pleasure
Indian Country Today
The Next American City

International Coverage
Colors
Cultural Survival Quarterly
Foreign Policy (Winner)
Middle East Report
NACLA Report on the Americas
New Internationalist
Peace Review
Prospect

Local/Regional Coverage
Alberta Views (Winner)
East Bay Monthly (Bay Area, CA)
The Independent Weekly (Lafayette, LA)
New England Watershed
Oxford American (Southern U.S.)
Sacramento News & Review
Urbanite (Baltimore)
Westword (Denver)

Science/Tech Coverage
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Discover
The Futurist
New Scientist
OnEarth
Science & Spirit
Science News (Winner)
Technology Review

Spiritual Coverage
Geez
Islamica
Notre Dame
Parabola

Shambhala Sun
(Winner)
Sojourners
Spirituality & Health
Tikkun

December 21, 2007 Posted by | Books, Magazines, Utne | | Leave a comment

2006 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners

Below is a list of the 2006 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners.

The Wilson Quarterly
General Excellence: Magazines
In culling articles from New York’s wide-ranging ethnic, immigrant, and community presses, the online publication of the Independent Press Association in New York illuminates stories and taps journalists from communities of all stripes.

GeneWatch
General Excellence: Newsletters
‘Do not ever call GeneWatch a newsletter,’ says editor Evan Lerner, laughing. ‘That was one of the first things drilled into me.’ The 2004 graduate of Brandeis University does understand the designation, however. At just 20 pages, printed on matte beige paper with a card stock cover, and nary an ad in sight, GeneWatch is a far cry from the thick, glossy magazines that line the newsstand. In moxie, and in quality of content, however, the tiny publication is a heavyweight.

The official mouthpiece of the nonprofit watchdog group Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG) for the past 24 years, GeneWatch dedicates itself to monitoring the ethical and environmental impact of biotechnology, and over the past year has set the bar for reporting on critical issues such as genetic profiling and DNA databases.

The approachable, elegantly written bimonthly is best when it examines the often ignored over-lap of science, philosophy, and politics-making it essential reading for anyone interested in the social consequences of developing technology. And the CRG has just two full-time employees: Lerner and president Sujatha Byravan, a molecular biologist, activist, and journalist.

28 Pages Loveingly Bound With Twine
General Excellence: Zines
Zines are still cool. Like ’em or not, zines have held fast to their place in the far-underground depths of the independent press, which helps keep their hip credentials intact. This makes sense when you consider their origins: Zines as we know them were shaped by punk-rock fans in the 1970s and 1980s. Frustrated with mainstream music magazines’ inattention to punk music and culture, they created their own ‘fanzines’ to cover the scene.

The zine 28 Pages Lovingly Bound with Twine is cool partly because it does not aspire to coolness. In fact, it’s downright dorky at times. There’s no particular mission or subject area, so content varies and randomness abounds. Christoph Meyer, the man behind the twine, admits he ‘stumbled across a nice title’ that hasn’t confined him to any particular realm of discussion. ‘As long as I feel like self-publishing,’ he says, ‘I can put whatever the hell I want in it-fiction, everyday stories, visual stuff, comics, whatever.’

The flexibility allowed by self-publishing makes for some amazing zines; it also means this category is particularly tough to judge because it’s difficult to pit zines against one another. Just as they have largely fended off commercialization, zines have also managed to resist definition. There is wide variation among them in every aspect imaginable: subject area (or lack thereof), publishing frequency, size, appearance. Many zinesters and librarians cite some basic criteria-small print run, handmade and self-distributed, low-tech, produced as a form of expression rather than a source of profit-but these vary depending on who is making the list.

‘I think overall, the rule for zines is that there aren’t any rules, and that most structures or formulas are meant to be broken,’ says Alycia Sellie, newspapers and periodicals assistant at the Wisconsin Historical Society and founder of the Madison Zine Fest. ‘And while zines may be unconventional and ephemeral, that doesn’t necessarily make their content so.’

This is certainly true of Meyer’s efforts, which are much more accessible than they are zany. He began tying twine five years ago, around the time his son Herbie (a budding zinester himself) was born. Since then, he has cranked out 13 issues, logging a finger-cramping ‘knot count’ of 29,566. For #9, the ‘Dental Issue,’ Meyer made the whimsical yet logical decision to bind his zine with floss, leaving some ‘long and untrimmed so that you may actually use this very fanzine to floss your teeth.’

Twine rises above many other zines because, in addition to its energetic craftiness, the writing is excellent and the stories are engaging. Short as they may be, some zines can be difficult to read cover to cover because stories can easily fall into the rambling-about-myself trap. An added bonus is that Meyer copyedits his work-typographical and spelling errors are few and far between.

Surprisingly, the rise of blogs and social networking sites doesn’t seem to have cut deeply into the world of zines. It’s natural for those who aren’t familiar with the medium to compare it to blogging, since they share a commitment to self-expression. In fact, part of what is so intriguing about contemporary zines is that people continue to make them even though blogging, arguably, is much less labor intensive.

Of course, that’s why people make zines: They truly are labors of love. Barnard College zine librarian Jenna Freedman addresses this question in the Summer 2005 issue of Counterpoise with ‘Zines Are Not Blogs: A Not Unbiased Analysis.’ Her discussion suggests that zinesters prefer their medium for many reasons, not least because they are not accountable to anyone (whereas bloggers ultimately rely on Internet service providers) and because zines embody the do-it-yourself spirit.

‘You know when you hold a zine that someone else slaved over that object in your hand, even if it was just at the photocopier or with a long-arm stapler,’ Sellie notes. ‘Usually you can sense a lot more than that.’

Meyer considers e-mail ‘a passing fad’ and does not own a computer. ‘And anyway,’ he says, ‘I like handing zines to people-they are little works of art. I couldn’t put silk screens, stickers, and stamps on a blog.’

New England Watershed
New Publication
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.’

n+1
Best Writing
n+1 debuted in 2004 with guns blazing: Its first issue opened with a bold discussion of the ‘intellectual situation’ that criticized the shortcomings of various prominent writers and magazines. (The editors can take their lumps, too-in the third issue they printed New Republic senior editor James Wood’s lengthy response to that critique.)

We have found that n+1 is always thoughtful and surprising: At the end of every essay, you can’t help but think that you’ve just read the masterwork of that author’s career. Credit for this is due to the writers, of course, but also to the architects of what is probably the best-edited magazine in our library this year. Each story-each word, for that matter-just belongs.

In researching this magazine, we were surprised to encounter accusations of elitism by some of its fellow New York literary scenesters and litbloggers. We heartily disagree. To us, essays on culture and politics are written gracefully, and easily, through a literary lens. Yes, n+1’s four editors are young, male Ivy League graduates, but the writing still doesn’t seem ivory tower or self-important-perhaps because it is important.

Bidoun
Social/Cultural Coverage & Design
Nuance, context, and perspective tend to drown in the deluge of ink the U.S. media spill on the Middle East. Where so many mainstream and indie outlets have floundered, Bidoun, a quarterly out of New York, has soared-covering a swath of cultural terrain in all its contradictions and complexity. And it has done so by using the arts as a point of departure.

Relying on a growing network of contributors stationed in galleries, studios, and caf?s from Beirut to Berlin, Bidoun mixes columns by curators, reviews of upcoming exhibits, and profiles of innovative artists with essays on the region’s shifting political and social landscapes. The publication itself looks like an art book, something to be displayed and kept out for all to see.

Part of this aesthetic force stems from the sheer ambition of its creative mission. Each issue is redesigned cover to cover-new paper stock, new typefaces, new color palettes-in an effort to merge form and content. The winter 2006 issue on envy is electric with green ink, pumped with fluorescence, on thick paper that calls out to be touched. And the fall issue on ‘the interview’ evokes the theme’s inspiration-Andy Warhol’s iconic Interview magazine-with newsprint (a reference lost on some subscribers, who worried that the cheaper-quality paper meant the privately funded magazine was in financial trouble).

Despite this mandate of constant reinvention, each issue’s uniquely structured layout manages a coherent feel that’s easy to navigate. Full-page photographs and two-page spreads that sporadically feature nothing more than simple, playful illustrations allow readers a place to pause and reflect-a necessity considering that the articles ask us all to reconsider our preconceptions.

Take, for example, Seif El Din’s piquant account of the Al-Hamra Hotel’s transformation from cosmopolitan Baghdad haunt to mercenary central. The piece, like so many in Bidoun, gives readers an unusually intimate level of access that represents the best of what the social/cultural coverage category celebrates: It chips away at that wall in our imaginations that has kept so many of ‘us’ from identifying with ‘them’ over ‘there.’

This is a task for which Bidoun’s young creators are well suited; the small editorial team straddles a diaspora rooted in Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. And it is this sense of statelessness, a lack of a fixed geographic or ethnic positioning, from which the magazine takes its name: Bidoun is the Arabic and Farsi word for without.

Though they shun the label of spokespeople (senior editor Negar Azimi: ‘We are privileged kids’), Bidoun’s makers are trying to fill a blind spot in Americans’ perceptions. They’re also trying to start a conversation. Staffers routinely curate shows and host panel discussions. And they’re working to distribute Bidoun more widely in the Middle East. That’s not a tough task in open cultural hot spots like Beirut. In Tehran, it has required more creative problem solving: Azimi is not above loading up a friend’s father with copies before a business trip to the city.

Tikkun
Spiritual Coverage
In November, Rabbi Michael Lerner’s erudite rejoinder to the religious right released Tikkun Reader: Twentieth Anniversary (Rowman & Littlefield) to showcase memorable essays from the bimonthly magazine’s all-star cast of contributors: Naomi Wolf on ‘Starting on My Spiritual Path.’ Jim Wallis facing down fear, post 9/11. Lama Surya Das ruminating on the timeless value of nonviolence. Peter Gabel on ‘Spiritualizing Foreign Policy.’

Revisiting these intellectually rigorous, often deeply moving works concerning our society’s collective soul (or lack thereof), we were reminded why Tikkun routinely makes our short list of nominees (eight times since 1989, when it won top honors). Besides challenging people of all faiths to use their bully pulpits ‘to mend, repair, and transform the world,’ the magazine has made it a mission to stay in the face of what Lerner calls the ‘values neutral’ secular left.

Both messages are invaluable. The executive branch is still beholden to fundamentalists, the globe is once again a battleground of rigid religious belief systems, and progressives still don’t know how to keep the faith. Over the past year, Tikkun has not only adeptly analyzed this reality, it has also articulated a pragmatic vision for change.

Raw Vision
Arts Coverage
Outsider artist is one those fuzzy but indispensable terms-like alternative press-that provokes endless debate about just what the heck it means, and about who ought to be lumped under the label. It generally refers to self-taught artists, but not always, and beyond that things get even stickier.

Consider a few of the artists who have been featured in recent issues of Raw Vision, which calls itself ‘the world’s leading journal of outsider art, art brut, and contemporary folk art’:

  • A man from the United States’ rural South who filled his yard with brightly colored cut-out figures and whirligigs bedecked with religious slogans.
  • A homeless Jamaican painter whose vibrant works include recurring figures of cowboys, fortune-tellers, and boxers, and who says he’s the son of Abraham Lincoln.
  • A German woman who sabotaged a railway in a 1907 political protest, and who, after she was deemed insane and institutionalized for the act, fashioned a full-size male ‘doctor’ from burlap and stuffing, and regularly pummeled it. She also made small figures from bread dough and wrote a play.

Clearly, it’s an expansive genre, and people in the field love to skirmish at the boundaries between outsider and other terms such as folk, contemporary, naive, raw, visionary, primitive, vernacular, and, when it’s applicable, simply art by people with disabilities. Despite their disagreements, many of them agree on one thing: Raw Vision covers this ever-shifting territory nimbly and smartly.

‘If you want to know this field, you’ve got to take Raw Vision,’ says Eugene Metcalf, a professor at Miami University in Ohio who has written books and articles about outsider and folk art.

‘There isn’t any another publication that comes close in terms of timely information about the field,’ says Tom di Maria, director of the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California, which provides studio space and instruction for physically, mentally, and developmentally disabled artists. ‘I also like its international focus.’

‘It does a service in promoting these artists,’ says Sherry Pardee, director of the Pardee Collection folk/outsider gallery in Iowa City, Iowa. ‘It exposes things to the world that people aren’t usually going to see.’

Raw Vision places a premium on its visual presentation of this electrifying art, extending the magazine’s appeal beyond the insular art-publishing world. With large and abundant photographs on high-quality stock, Raw Vision is a visual feast akin to ‘Christmas pudding,’ says contributing editor Roger Cardinal, a British scholar who coined outsider art in 1972 as an English equivalent to the French art brut (‘raw art’). A reader might be exposed to hallucinatory paintings, eye-bogglingly meticulous pen-and-ink drawings, or an alien-looking yard in which branches and jagged structures are wrapped in aluminum foil. ‘It takes a while to settle down to read it properly, because it’s so rich,’ Cardinal says. ‘You don’t just take a bite for breakfast. You’ve really got to deal with it.’

Raw Vision editor John Maizels started publishing the UK-based magazine in 1989. ‘It was the height of conceptual art, and [many art] magazines were essentially unreadable,’ he says. ‘Not only that, they didn’t have any pictures in them. We tried to be completely different.’

‘It’s very important to have the art well presented so it can be looked at equally with any other art,’ he says, ‘because people can look down on it and say, oh, it’s art by mad people or something like that. They don’t realize that it’s probably a truer art than most of the art you see around, because it comes direct from the soul; it’s just pure expression done by people who aren’t looking for a career, or for exhibitions, or to sell anything.’

Raw Vision has a circulation of about 8,000, with about 5,000 of those copies sold in the United States. ‘Fairly wealthy collectors’ and ‘fairly impoverished artists’ are the magazine’s two main groups of subscribers, Maizels says.

‘The amazing thing about all outsider art is that it’s just so accessible,’ he says. ‘People can look at it and appreciate it and feel it without having read an art book or been to a museum or anything. Just like the artists, in a way.’

New Mobility
Lifestyle Coverage
Every issue of New Mobility takes aim at the journalistic clich? that editor Tim Gilmer calls ‘the inspirational cripple story.’ Gilmer, a paraplegic who edits the magazine and runs a 10-acre organic farm from the seat of a manual wheelchair, has little patience for such tired, teary-eyed dispatches. ‘Most of our writers have disabilities,’ he explains, ‘so we offer an insider viewpoint.’ That viewpoint-honest, intelligent, and human (as opposed to superhuman)-is what makes New Mobility such compelling reading, both for the disabled and for the ‘temporarily abled’ (that’s the rest of us).

When it comes to the writing, abilities are varied: Many contributors, says Gilmer, are not professional writers, though some, like Lorenzo Milam and Harriet McBryde Johnson, are well known. Regardless, the stories and style are down-to-earth and take on tough subjects. The mix of voices and perspectives captures the paradox of life in a wheelchair: It commands time and energy, but disability doesn’t define every moment. New Mobility manages to finesse the distinction, demonstrating that a life on wheels is a rich and complicated one.

NACLA Report on the Americas
International Coverage
When the Democratic Party wrestled a slim majority in Congress in the 2006 midterm elections, the punditry was quick to pronounce it a ‘revolution.’ But while lefties may have raised a hopeful fist on election night, nobody could legitimately claim that the shift in power stemmed from an energetic, organized, dedicated grassroots movement.

Latin America is a different story. The flourishing progressive political climates of Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Nicaragua represent, to varying degrees, the triumph of decades of political organizing.

‘Overall, these changes were a long time coming,’ explains Teo Ballv?, editor of the NACLA Report on the Americas, a bimonthly magazine that publishes some of the best reporting on the region. ‘Progressive groups have been engaged in movement building and political organizing for decades. During the ’70s and ’80s, there was a leash on those organizations, because they were under the U.S.-supported right-wing governments. Now that more space is being afforded those groups, there have been dramatic gains.’

The NACLA Report offers its readers a front-row view of these changes. The magazine is the primary work of the North American Congress on Latin America, an organization founded in 1966 to provide an alternative to the mainstream media’s coverage of President Lyndon Johnson’s 1965 invasion of the Dominican Republic. The NACLA Report’s formula is to uphold academic standards of research and sourcing, but to deliver the information in writing that anyone can understand.

This mix of substance and style has won the journal a loyal following; it is the most widely read English-language magazine on Latin American affairs. Most of the work is commissioned, says Ballv?, from academics and journalists who are happy to write for a periodical that affords them the space to dig deep. ‘The result is a form of intelligent journalism that’s pretty rare,’ Ballv? says.

In addition to shorter reports from various regions, the magazine typically collects related articles in a feature section. A recent issue explored Caribbean politics, with articles ranging from a report on the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti to a study of Jamaican gang violence. Another ambitious package called ‘The Bio Politic’ offered wide-ranging analysis of international politics and biology, including the appropriation of native plants, the global trade in human tissue, and the use of digital technology to enforce borders.

NACLA has served as a catalyst for activism in the United States, although that work has languished as the organization struggled for survival. ‘We began our life as a hybrid activist organization,’ explains Steve Volk, who has been with NACLA since 1969 and sits on the board. The information in the NACLA Report forms one arm of its activism; the other consisted of building networks among organizations interested in Latin American policy. ‘We had a staff of 8 or 10 people on two coasts,’ Volk says. But as budget pressures constricted the staff, ‘we withdrew more and more into the office and we lost that vital connection with the grass roots.’

In recent years, the organization has taken steps to reconnect, beginning with a dramatic turnover in staff. Editor Ballv?, 27, represents the new face of the organization. ‘We brought a lot of younger people on board,’ he says, ‘so the organization could take a new direction. We are a new generation of activists, arising in part from the Seattle World Trade Organization protests, and we’re building new, organic ties to the wider movement.’

A central tool in creating these ties is NACLA’s web presence. The group is about to launch a new site that will add breaking-news reports to the NACLA Report’s in-depth coverage. It will also, says Volk, help to forge ties between activists in the United States and Latin America.

Recent shifts in Latin American politics have made such ties even more important. Progressives in the United States have a lot to learn from Latin American groups, and NACLA is uniquely positioned to facilitate collaboration across borders. ‘The Internet allows community and coordination that were inconceivable a few decades ago,’ Ballv? says. ‘Back then, you were lucky if you could raise the money to bring a handful of Latin American labor leaders up here for a week. Now you can be in constant contact with them.’

In These Times
Political Coverage
Chronicling the rise of hip-hop politics. The role blogs will play in progressive politics. How Madison Avenue sells perpetual adolescence. Considering the nightmarish consequences of leaving Iraq prematurely.

Not the sort of stuff fans of the socialist, labor union-loving In These Times have become accustomed to since the Carter administration. Not because the Chicago-based nonprofit hasn’t made its mark on the media landscape year after defiant year. It’s just that, since going from biweekly to monthly in 2006, the magazine has a palpable, politically unpredictable energy-a little less worry and a lot more fight.

Turns out it’s all about the staff, which is younger, more diverse, and less likely to tolerate doctrinaire bromides. ‘We’re building community. I read In These Times and I don’t feel alone,’ explains 27-year-old publisher Tracy Van Slyke. ‘But we don’t want to be the mouthpiece for the movement, we want to make it better. We want to be provocative.’

According to Van Slyke, who started as a Chicago Reporter intern and is three years younger than the magazine, a number of staffers and contributors are in their 20s and ‘more comfortable about critiquing what’s working or not working. And people in the alternative media have been hesitant to do that-to criticize the left.’

In These Times has also started showcasing more female voices and regularly features two African American writers-sadly, still an anomaly in the progressive press. You’re probably not going to see an essay from Andrew Sullivan anytime soon, of course-but it’s a good guess he’s reading.

Seed
Science/Tech Coverage
Seed magazine’s mission to make science sexy has had skeptics clucking their tongues since the periodical’s launch five years ago. ‘If you trivialize a subject such as science and technology,’ scolded R. Bruce Journey, former publisher of MIT’s Technology Review, back in 2001, ‘you do so at your own peril.’ Whatever.

Founder and editor in chief Adam Bly, a child prodigy who launched his career as a cancer researcher at 16 and dropped it at 21 to start Seed, appears to have escaped that peril. But maybe that’s because Seed doesn’t really trivialize its subject at all.

The best comparison for Seed is the early years of Rolling Stone, when music was less a subject than a lens for viewing American culture. In other words, what sets Seed apart from its competitors is its focus on storytelling-and the unfolding dramas enacted in our 21st-century laboratories make for some pretty fascinating tales.
Recent issues have featured a profile of Elizabeth Gould’s exploration of the effects of environment on brain development and an ambitious roundup on ‘the culture
that has arisen to combat HIV/AIDS’ in the past 25 years. Compelling stuff, and hardly trivial.

The Ecologist
Environmental Coverage
To anyone who breathes air, drinks water, eats food, and enjoys nature, the Ecologist is a reliable and long-standing British friend, covering environmental issues with dogged assurance. The 37-year-old magazine publishes gutsy activist journalism that takes on agrigiants like Monsanto; sharp and soundly argued commentaries; unvarnished green consumer advice; and revealing, deeply researched features such as the recent explication of all the environmental costs of a BLT sandwich.

The Ecologist’s British provenance occasionally shines through in words like barmy and yobbishness, but even when it celebrates the local, it draws links to the global. And the casual stateside reader would never know that the magazine’s editor, Zac Goldsmith, is the young scion of a blueblood family, a conservative who’s advising the Tory party on environmental matters, and a headline-generating rake who loves poker and, according to recent news stories, extramarital relations.

And perhaps all that doesn’t really matter any more than the fact that Al Gore flies on jumbo jets. After all, the Ecologist stands on its own merits, and Goldsmith has only made it better since he bought it from his Uncle Teddy in 1997. As for his Tory ties, maybe he and his magazine can help the environmental movement broach the partisan divide. ‘A conservative who is not also in his heart an environmentalist cannot really legitimately be described as a conservative,’ he has said, and we wholeheartedly agree.

High Country News
Local/Regional Coverage
High Country News has an unusual beat: ‘the West’ (or, as editor Greg Hanscom points out, more than a million square miles, half of which are public parklands).

It has an unusual financial structure: Subscriptions and donations to a nonprofit research fund make up 70 percent of the budget. And it has an unusual style: independent not only from advertisers and other moneyed interests, but also from the progressive community that forms its principal readership. ‘We’re not beholden to anyone,’ says Hanscom.

A go-to source for coverage of the West’s public lands (policy makers and big-city reporters rely on the paper’s in-depth reporting), High Country recently installed a younger staff and redesigned itself as a smarter, more serious alt-biweekly of the West-and began to take more risks. ‘We’ve thrown our readers some serious curveballs,’ says Hanscom (who stepped down in November), covering, for example, Mormon Polynesian gangs in Salt Lake City and a heroin epidemic in New Mexico. ‘A lot of publications aim to make their readers comfortable,’ he explains. ‘We intentionally throw our readers off balance. We’re constantly poking holes in their assumptions. It’s great!’

December 21, 2007 Posted by | Books, Magazines, Utne | | Leave a comment

2005 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners

Below is a list of the 2005 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners.

OnEarth
General Excellence: Magazines
With the environment in grave peril, this magazine from the Natural Resources Defense Council is an invaluable antidote to despair. Casual readers will find the accessible issue briefs, strategy notes, and hard-hitting investigative reports visually compelling. Activists can turn to deeper pieces that define key battles and ground-breaking solutions.

New Urban News
General Excellence: Newsletters
As big-box, car-dependent developments gobble up the landscape, this comprehensive newsletter equips readers with enough know-how to fight for (and create) responsible, walkable communities.

True Story!
General Excellence: Zines
Guaranteed to provoke reading aloud, this charming hand-drawn zine chronicles the adventures of a thoughtful human who enjoys eating garlic, copes with early-morning cat rambunctiousness, and attempts to draw himself on the verge of crying.

New Scientist
Science/Technology Coverage
The modest tagline ‘science and technology news’ doesn’t capture the scope of this U.K.-based mainstay. Beat-breaking briefs, provocative columnists, and an eye for the sobering as well as the quirky make this weekly’s consistently excellent coverage a laudable feat.

Oxford American
Best Writing
This collector closes shop and, like a phoenix from the ashes, rises again with surprising regularity — and thank goodness. The cultural coverage sharpens with each rebirth, and the impeccable prose continues to shed light on the anomalies of Southern living.

ColorLines
Cultural/Social Coverage
With its sharp analysis and savvy story selection, this Oakland-based magazine draws outside the lines and fills in the spaces when it comes to covering race.

Ascent
Spiritual Coverage
Subtle, haunting essays and serialized re-renderings of the Gita as a Snoopy cartoon intermingle in this inspiring read. Devoted to Eastern spiritual philosophy and practices, this stark but striking black-and-white magazine lifts up both body and soul.

Wax Poetics
Arts/Literary Coverage
This lovingly rendered bimonthly recaptures those grooves that were lost, both literally and figuratively, when jazz, funk, and hip-hop went digital. Like the vinyl recordings to which it pays tribute, the magazine’s mind-altering illustrations and kinetic photographs beg for a frame, while the prose crackles with truth and soul.

$pread
Best New Title
Giving a voice to the voiceless is a basic journalistic responsibility, but sit down with an issue of this already controversial title and you’ll realize how effectively the mainstream media have denied sex workers a place at the table. Smart and culturally revealing, this quarterly magazine aims to educate, inform, and provoke discussion about the state of sex work.

The Chicago Reporter
Local Coverage
With an eye toward race and poverty, this nonprofit magazine reports on issues facing metropolitan Chicago. Tackling tricky topics from teaching abstinence-only sex education to teenage parents (with the materials that are supplied free to schools) to how to keep ex-offenders from returning to prison, each bimonthly issue is hard-hitting, readable, and relevant.

New Internationalist
International Coverage
Focusing on social justice issues such as caste, homelessness, and economic migration, this monthly magazine features digestible political profiles (both geographic and personal) and comprehensive coverage of the Southern Hemisphere.

Shameless
Personal Life Coverage
Imagine being up to beat on news, gender issues, activism, career choices, and health — at age 16. With great writing and a hip design, this quarterly publication proves that a magazine for young women can be as readable as it is essential.

The Texas Observer
Political Coverage
We grab this low-budget biweekly for its wealth of rich local color, resourceful reporting, and political savvy. While blue state pundits squander barrels of ink on second-guesses, this progressive nonprofit sticks to its guns, a prerequisite when you’re tracking outlaws from Texas.

Small Farmer’s Journal
Environmental Coverage
This robust quarterly journal, with its sumptuous 11- by 14-inch pages and pleasing antiquated design, has been ‘defending craftsmanship and believing in people’ since 1976. The writers cover everything from old-fashioned ice cutting to horse farming in Italy, with an emphasis on sustainability and an eye toward entertaining prose.

ONLINE

Grist Magazine
Online Political Coverage
The environmental coverage in this user-friendly and well-designed Web magazine is informative, comprehensive, and fresh. And a healthy dose of humor brings environmentalists down to earth while still inspiring the apathetic to save it.

Voices That Must Be Heard
Online Cultural Coverage
In culling articles from New York’s wide-ranging ethnic, immigrant, and community presses, the online publication of the Independent Press Association in New York illuminates stories and taps journalists from communities of all stripes.

December 21, 2007 Posted by | Books, Magazines, Utne | | 1 Comment

2004 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners

Below is a list of the 2004 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners.

GENERAL EXCELLENCE: MAGAZINES
Orion

This gorgeous bimonthly journal of nature and political thought can be counted on to provide some of America’s most eloquent and impassioned essays in defense of the environment and social change.

GENERAL EXCELLENCE: NEWSLETTERS
Church and State
In an era when the president believes God speaks to him directly, the Washington-based monthly newsletter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State has never been more apropos.

GENERAL EXCELLENCE: ZINES
Moonlight Chronicles
From his subterranean hobbit house in rural eastern Oregon, cemetery caretaker Dan Price muses about the meaning of life, expressing himself via drawings, thoughtful journal entries, and excerpts gleaned from his esoteric reading.

BEST NEW TITLE
The Walrus
To call The Walrus Toronto’s answer to Harper’s is to put it in fine company, but doesn’t quite convey what makes it so good in its own right. Smart, literary, and quintessentially Canadian, this quasi-monthly is a flash of brilliance from the city with the hottest magazine scene in the hemisphere.

BEST ESSAYS
The American Scholar
Anne Fadiman’s peerless seven-year run as editor of the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s 73-year-old journal ended last fall with yet another issue full of lively essays by new and seasoned writers alike. It was a bittersweet reminder of how much this quarterly has done to keep literary journalism a vital art.

DESIGN
The Believer
With its creamy, uncoated paper, elegant type, and Victorian-meets-comic-noir covers, this literary spinoff from McSweeney’s is as pleasing to a designer’s eye as it is to a wordsmith’s ear.

INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE
New Internationalist
Taking top honors in the international category for the seventh time, this monthly with offices in England and Toronto delivers a rich mix of trenchant reporting, thoughtful analysis, and fearless campaigning for global justice.

ARTS/LITERARY COVERAGE
Musicworks
A magazine for people with curious ears, Musicworks reports on the world of experimental adventures in sound: sonic sculptures, electronica, new instruments, and old instruments played with ‘new intentions.’ Each issue includes a CD.

CULTURAL/SOCIAL COVERAGE
Columbia Journalism Review
While finger pointers accuse media outlets of being too liberal, too conservative, too wishy-washy, or just plain wrong, we give CJR a thumbs-up for its investigative work, tireless reporting, and deep coverage of the journalistic trade.

LOCAL/REGIONAL COVERAGE
Westword
While profit-driven corporations continue to buy up and dumb down alternative newsweeklies, Denver’s Westword (part of the New Times chain) covers Colorado with an old-school sensibility. The arts coverage is refreshingly unaffected, the columnists routinely surprise, and the award-winning investigative work is as gutsy as it is well written.

PERSONAL LIFE COVERAGE
The Bark
This superbly edited and luxuriously designed ‘modern dog culture magazine’ — consistently informative, touching, and hilarious — may compel even dog-averse humans to proclaim, ‘Dog is my co-pilot!’

SPIRITUAL COVERAGE
Sojourners
While red and blue America spent the year arguing over whether Kerry or Bush was ‘God’s candidate,’ this sharply written, well-reported monthly, edited by Christian progressive Jim Wallis, stayed on its perennial message: Spirituality may be essential to human moral evolution, but religion and politics should stand separately in the public square.

POLITICAL COVERAGE
Mother Jones
Given the tenor of media discourse in 2004, this thriving progressive publication might have been tempted to trade tough reporting for crowd-pleasing punditry. Instead, MoJo took the time to get inside and ahead of the political stories that mattered most, from the 9/11 Commission to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

ENVIRONMENTAL COVERAGE
OnEarth
The quarterly magazine of the Natural Resources Defense Council is part glossy geographic journal, part frontline update for those who love the living world. With American environmentalists now in the fight of their lives, OnEarth is the wily trainer in the corner with the pep talks and tactical advice to keep them in the ring.

SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY COVERAGE
Seed
This Montreal-based bimonthly will show you how gripping a field trip to the frontiers of reason can be. Get ready to meet the creative labs and minds that, for better or worse, now hold the power to reshape the economy, culture, and life itself.

ONLINE POLITICAL COVERAGE
Cursor.org
Radical cousin of CNN’s scrolling news bar, Cursor provides a timely digest of news from a wide selection of mainstream and independent sources, as well as links to political blogs, commentary, and satire.

ONLINE CULTURAL COVERAGE
WorldChanging.com
Driven by a vision of progressive collaboration and reform, WorldChanging explores the democratizing potential of modern technology with sharp insight and unwavering idealism.

December 21, 2007 Posted by | Books, Magazines, Utne | | Leave a comment

2003 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners

Below is a list of the 2003 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners.

General Excellence, Magazines
The American Prospect

If ever there was a year for a liberal magazine with a sharp focus on electoral politics to shine, it’s this year. And this smart Washington, DC-based monthly is the magazine.

General Excellence, Newsletters (ceased publication)
Connection to the Americas
From indigenous uprisings to the war on drugs to the impact of corporate globalization, this bimonthly newsletter, published by the Minneapolis-based Resource Center of the Americas, provides essential summaries of the most critical issues facing Latin America.

General Excellence, Zines
Cryptozoa

Androo Robinson fills this delightful zine with whimsical single-panel “picture fictions” that play with the imagination, illustrating everyday fairy tales that just may have actually happened.

Best New Title (ceased publication)
Kitchen Sink

Published by the San Francisco-based nonprofit Neighbor Lady Community Arts Project, this well-designed quarterly features piquant essays on arts and culture “for people who think too much.”

Arts/Literary Coverage
Art Papers

Smart and well-written, Art Papers covers what’s exciting in local arts scenes around the country — everything from the latest exhibitions to backyard sculpture and performance art — with a minimum of artspeak and a maximum of clarity.

Best Essays
Brick

This engaging international literary journal marked its 25th anniversary in 2003, publishing lively work from the likes of Michael Ondaatje, Adrienne Rich, and Annie Proulx.

Cultural/Social Coverage
The Onion

America’s funniest newspaper is also one of its sharpest critical voices. Read The Onion for a good laugh and at the same time get real insight into many of the issues, large and small, facing us today.

Design
ReadyMade

DIY never looked so cool. Straightforward graphics and page design with just enough retro-industrial swank to inspire even the most die-hard slacker to pick up a glue gun. Make yourself a magazine rack because every issue’s a keeper.

International Coverage
NACLA Report on the Americas

The bimonthly report of the North American Congress on Latin America is required reading for all who want a really in-depth analysis of north-south political relations in our hemisphere.

Local/Regional Coverage
The Brooklyn Rail

Full of local news that touches on universal themes, the Rail keeps Brooklyn-ites abreast of the stuff that really matters — from neighborhood happenings to the role of the arts in the city.

Personal Life Coverage
ReadyMade

The do-it-yourself bible for the young and moneyless who nevertheless want to live in style, ReadyMade is both a hip interior-design guide and a witty version of a how-to-build-it hobby mag.

Political Coverage
The Nation

This lively weekly jumped right into the post-9/11 debate to provide a much-needed progressive perspective on a suddenly-transformed world. It’s kept up the good work ever since, thanks to some of the keenest reporters and savviest columnists in the business.

Science and Environmental Coverage
Mother Jones

With stellar articles on water issues, refugees fleeing global warming, pollution of all varieties, and the secret sins of the Bush administration, MoJo shows that a general interest magazine can still offer thorough coverage of crucial subjects.

Spiritual Coverage
Ascent

Living up to its tagline, “yoga for an inspired life,” this fresh Montreal-based quarterly looks at spirituality through the lens of social action.

Online Political Coverage
Grist Magazine

With a rich mix of hard-hitting eco-political coverage, practical tips, hopeful tales, and rib-tickling whimsy, Grist fulfills its tongue-in-cheek mission statement: “doom and gloom with a sense of humor.”

Online Cultural Coverage
Smart Mobs

Techno-visionary Howard Rheingold and his co-conspirators chronicle the daily evolution of wireless technologies and their impacts on culture, politics, economics and personal relationships.

December 21, 2007 Posted by | Books, Magazines, Utne | | Leave a comment

2002 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners

Below is a list of the 2002 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners.

General Excellence, Magazines
The Nation

A lively weekly venue for debate on politics and culture.

General Excellence, Newsletters
The Hightower Lowdown

Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazier’s populist-inspired monthly zeroes in on political issues that affect everyday people and chronicles how grassroots America is making its voices heard.

General Excellence, Zines
King Cat Comics

Sweet, slow stories about the small epiphanies of life told with a few careful lines?both in text and illustration.

Cultural/Social Coverage
Punk Planet

Punk Planet augments its rock music coverage with thoughtful and stirring views on many subjects from travelers, activists, and do-it-ourselves mavens.

Political Coverage
The Progressive

Published in Madison, Wisconsin, since 1909, The Progressive persistently probes for issues, ideas, injustices, and inspiration that don’t get a fair hearing in the major media.

Ethnic Issues Coverage
ColorLines

ColorLines, a handsome quarterly, offers detailed reports and clear analysis about issues of racial justice on many fronts.

Arts/Literature Coverage (tie)
Art Journal

Visually compelling without glitz, rich in ideas without succumbing to art-theory-speak, Art Journal presents substantial essays and wide-ranging Q & As that bring readers deep into the minds of today’s artists.

The Comics Journal
Equal parts trade publication, fanzine, and arts and culture review, this well-edited publication is sure to please anyone who takes comics the least bit seriously.

Spiritual Coverage
Mountain Record

The Catskills-based Mountain Record is a quarterly Zen Journal that covers mystical wisdom everywhere, from the arts and ecology to business.

International Coverage
New Internationalist

Published since 1970 in Oxford, England, the New Internationalist covers every corner of the globe with a keen eye for significant political, social, and cultural developments. It is truly a window on the world, especially those parts seldom seen in most news coverage.

Personal Life Coverage
Natural Home

Colorado-based Natural Home, a bimonthly magazine of earth-inspired living, is a practical and elegant guide for people who want to make their homes more beautiful, comfortable, and environmentally friendly.

Local/Regional Coverage
The Brooklyn Rail

From the streets of Brooklyn, this quarterly tabloid consistently provides fresh and substantial coverage of the borough’s arts, literature, and local politics.

New Paradigm/Culture Coverage
Fourth Door Review

A provocative and visionary British magazine aimed at breaking down barriers ?between ecology and technology, land art and digital crafts, music and media.

Science and Environmental Coverage
E Magazine

Bimonthly E Magazine reports on human ecology at macro and micro levels alike, offering practical information for living more sustainably.

Student/Youth coverage
Silicon Valley De-Bug

The voice of the young and temporary, this bilingual (English/Spanish) publication is created by people who work or have worked on the low-wage end of Silicon Valley.

Reporting excellence
Mother Jones

Mother Jones continues to publish groundbreaking stories on matters affecting all of us, from the environment and criminal justice to global economics.

Writing excellence
The American Scholar

This consistently engaging journal of essays, poetry, and reviews offers sustenance for readers who are in the very best sense of the word middlebrow intellectuals.

New Titles
ReadyMade

Fun for anyone interested in how-to-do-it projects and decorating, quarterly ReadyMade encourages the young and not-so-rich to become creative with the world around them.

Design excellence
Yoga Journal

The clean typography, elegant artwork, and peaceful layout of the bimonthly Yoga Journal leave readers feeling they’ve just completed a personalized session of poses.

Online Political Coverage
AlterNet

A San Francisco-based online news service launched by the Independent Media Institute, AlterNet provides a mixture of news, opinion, and investigative journalism. They earned particularly high marks for their timely and in-depth coverage of 9/11 and the war on terrorism.

Online Cultural Coverage
Killing the Buddha

A three-way partnership between a former truck driver, a Webmaster, and a self-professed sinner, this online religious magazine is geared to people who are anxious when near churches, yet are somehow drawn to talk of God.

December 20, 2007 Posted by | Books, Magazines, Utne | | Leave a comment

2001 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners

Below is a list of the 2001 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners.

General Excellence (Magazines)
The Ecologist

Thought-provoking and strikingly designed, The Ecologist, a London-based monthly devoted to ‘rethinking basic assumptions,’ constantly reminds us that much of the damage we do to the natural world stems from our unquestioning faith in the ideology of unlimited economic growth.

General Excellence (Newsletters)
PR Watch

From Madison, the progressive capital of the Midwest, comes PR Watch, the best source of information for all of us trying to unspin the frighteningly influential public relations industry.

General Excellence (Zines)
The Match!

Fred Woodworth has been doggedly producing this incendiary anarchist journal since long before the Ruckus Society made headlines. From Tucson, The Match! is as ranty and outrageous as any political zine, but distinguishes itself with meticulous research and remarkable reach.

Local Regional Coverage
Mountain Gazette

Mountain Gazette, a lively bimonthly from the Colorado Rockies, features strong opinions, humor, and a ton of local flavor, from its obituaries and birth announcements to its essays about life at high altitude.

Best New Title
Nervy Girl!

Based on the revolutionary idea that young women enjoy thinking about issues beyond makeup and boyfriends, the volunteer-produced Nervy Girl! celebrates women’s accomplishments.

Political Coverage
The American Prospect

In the crowded marketplace of political ideas, The American Prospect, a Boston-based biweekly for the liberal imagination, distinguishes itself with its analysis and sharp punditry.

Reporting Excellence
Mother Jones

It’s been another great year for the venerable San Francisco bimonthly. With its hard-edged reporting, Mother Jones consistently digs up compelling stories that would otherwise go unreported.

Cultural Coverage
Yes!

A fine antidote to cynicism, Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures reports quarterly on everyday people doing important work that fosters social justice, economic democracy, peace, and environmental sustainability.

Writing Excellence
Michigan Quarterly Review

If you’re looking for strong literary nonfiction, turn to Ann Arbor’s Michigan Quarterly Review, which for four decades has been publishing some of the finest creative writing around.

Personal Life Coverage
Brain, Child

Only two years old, Brain, Child is the place to find fabulous essays and thoughtful commentary on raising children without losing your own passion for the life of the mind.

International Coverage
Transition

Founded 40 years ago in Uganda, Transition continues its long tradition of excellence as a venue for international writers covering Africa and the African diaspora.

Science Coverage
The Ecologist

Covering the big issues that face us all—like biotechnology, food quality, and climate change—The Ecologist encourages its readers to rethink their basic assumptions about the world.

Spiritual Coverage
Turning Wheel

A quarterly publication of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in Berkeley, Turning Wheel has brought a thoughtful and personal perspective to peace activism for 23 years.

New Paradigm Coverage
Resurgence

Always ahead of the curve, this beautiful and substantial British bimonthly is an international forum for ecological and spiritual thinking. Resurgence informs, delights, and inspires.

Design
Slow: The International Herald of Tastes

Tastefully translated and delectably designed, Slow is the Slow Food movement’s stunning second course. Gorgeous photos, classic type, and, mmmmm, just enough off-white space. Savor it slowly.

Arts and Literature Coverage
No Depression

A substantial bimonthly bridging roots music and the alternative country scene, No Depression is chock full of in-depth profiles, interviews, and music reviews.

December 20, 2007 Posted by | Books, Magazines, Utne | | Leave a comment

2000 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners

Below is a list of the 2000 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners.

General Excellence – Magazines
Mother Jones
After an excellent year in 1999, this venerable bimonthly keeps getting better. The San Francisco–based Mother Jones is one of the best chronicles of American life (and its discontents) now on the newsstand.

General Excellence – Zines
Punk Planet
You don’t have to love punk rock to be drawn into the orbit of Chicago’s Punk Planet, a bimonthly that features a wild array of articles on music, politics, the micro-press scene, and the do-it-yourself revolution now sweeping the land.

General Excellence – Newsletters
The Hightower Lowdown

Radio populist Jim Hightower is known for being equal parts witty and scathing—the volatile blend that also fuels The Hightower Lowdown, the nation’s only monthly update on political folly and corporate excess that’s funny and inflammatory in the same breath.

Reporting Excellence
Audubon

If you like your nature writing based in fact rather than sentimentality, the bi-monthly Audubon, from the National Audubon Society, is a great source of well crafted, carefully reported articles on environmental issues.

Writing Excellence
The American Scholar

Ever thoughtful, never precious, The American Scholar, a Washington-based quarterly largely dedicated to essays and memoirs, proves once again that the life of the mind and mastery of the pen need not be separate careers.

Design Excellence
Orion

Striking an elegant balance between art and text, with a special emphasis on photography, Orion, a national quarterly dedicated to the Orion Society’s call for the “humane stewardship” of nature, is as much a joy to look at as it is to read.

Local/Regional Coverage
The Stranger

An arts and entertainment weekly stuffed with everything under the Seattle sun—at least when it shines—The Stranger does honor to the hallowed, irreverent, and just slightly sleazy tradition of the hip hometown tabloid.

Spiritual Coverage
Shambhala Sun

A handsome magazine of Buddhist practice and culture, Shambhala Sun never fears to venture into politics, psychology, and any other field where Buddha’s noble truths can shed light on contemporary reality.

International Coverage
Transition

Intelligent, provocative, and unpredictable, Transition, a quarterly based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, continues to amaze with its wide-ranging survey of the myriad subcultures at play in the modern world.

Political/Social Coverage
Ms.

Ms., the venerated bimonthly out of Manhattan, may be the grande dame of American feminist periodicals, but it’s been ranging across the culture more like a lean huntress lately, turning out some of its smartest, most relevant commentary in decades.

Personal Life Coverage
The Bark

For anyone who thinks the canine cranium holds nothing but visions of fire hydrants and open car windows, we highly recommend The Bark, a Berkeley-based quarterly about life with dogs that’s engaging enough to bring even cat lovers to heel.

Cultural Coverage
Stay Free!

Tired of commodity culture gnawing away at your soul? Stay Free!, a nonprofit magazine based in New York, is fighting back by turning a critical eye on commercialism and the empire of advertising.

Science/Environmental Coverage
E Magazine

Whether reporting on biodegradable carpet, the illegal trade in macaws, or a planet that grows more steamy by the month, E, a Connecticut-based bimonthly founded a decade ago as a clearinghouse for environmental information, never fails to remind its readers that there are many ways, both big and little, to be green.

New Paradigm/Emerging Culture Coverage
Lapis

The melding of the modern Western mind with an ancient sense of soul is the editorial alchemy underlying Lapis, a fascinating journal chronicling the modern search for meaning published three times a year by the New York Open Center.

Best New Title
Clamor

Ambitious and messy in the best of ways, Clamor, a bimonthly out of Bowling Green, Ohio, written by and for young radical activists, harks back to the rough and ready alternative press of the 1960s.

Arts & Literature Coverage
Rain Taxi Review of Books

Perhaps the best vehicle around for reviews of small-press poetry and prose, the Minneapolis-based Rain Taxi is the ride of choice for anyone who wants to believe that literary criticism is a living art.

December 20, 2007 Posted by | Books, Magazines, Utne | | Leave a comment

Top 10 Signs You’re a Fundamentalist Christian

10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

9 – You feel insulted and “dehumanized” when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the “atrocities” attributed to Allah, but you don’t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in “Exodus” and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in “Joshua” including women, children, and trees!

6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs — though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most “tolerant” and “loving.”

3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in “tongues” may be all the evidence you need to “prove” Christianity.

2 – You define 0.01% as a “high success rate” when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

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November 18, 2007 Posted by | Books, Current Events, Helpful Resources, News, Politics, Random, Religion | 2 Comments