When I was working in community development, I often had the feeling I’d sat through the same meeting for years. Different faces around the table. Different issues being discussed. Different communities even. The way the meetings ended, though, was too often the same. We had talked all around a problem we were already familiar with when we walked in the door. Hours later, we were no closer to a solution.
That’s why I enjoy the magazine YES! Here’s the way they describe what they’re trying to do: “YES! Magazine reframes the biggest problems of our time in terms of their solutions. Online and in print, we outline a path forward with in-depth analysis, tools for citizen engagement, and stories about real people working for a better world.”
That’s a big task, and certainly writing about the solutions is a lot less messy than sitting in a room with people who’ve come to the table with their agendas firmly in place. Still, I’m quite sure the good people who put out this magazine sit in rooms or, if they’re on the board, connect via computer, and struggle with similar challenges. Month after month they come to enough of an agreement to put out a first-class magazine that makes me want to shout, “YES!”
They do this without advertising revenue so as to maintain the integrity of the content. They commit to operating with as little damage to the planet as possible. They steer a path that allows them to examine issues freely, without adhering to any particular political or spiritual direction.
And they expect writers to do more than whine. They ask them to suggest ways out of any morass they explore and to present examples of people who’ve jumped whatever barriers hold others back.
In September 2010 they featured the successful struggle of the indigenous Dongria Kondh of Niyamgiri, India, to prevent an international mining company from destroying their sacred mountains. In April 2011 they published a piece about 10 everyday acts of resistance changed the world. In May 2011 they published the stories of people who had lost their right to vote because of criminal convictions. In “My First Vote” some who had managed to reclaim that right talked about how voting affected them. In a word: deeply.
Whenever I need a shot of hope, I know I can find it in the pages of YES! For 15 years they have been pointing out “a path forward”.