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NEWS

Issue 20 is out now. This is our final issue. Look for it in independent bookstores near you, or order it directly from us.

Dear readers,

It’s strange to be writing our final letter to you as editors of make/shift. We started publishing make/shift in 2007, and had no idea this project would last for a decade.

At a feminist-media conference right after we’d published our first issue, Jess overheard someone saying, “A new print magazine? How do they think they’re gonna do it?” This was when the feminist blogosphere was heating up, and just after the collapse of a whole slew of independent print magazines—many of which we’d subscribed or contributed to. We were well aware that print was seen as a strange and precarious choice in 2007, and we decided to do it anyway.

We loved print (still do). We wanted to make media that readers could hold in their hands and engage with in a more reflective way than on-screen reading allows. And we wanted to make media in a more reflective way. While we were excited by what was emerging in online feminist media, we thought there was simultaneously a need for feminist media that was created more slowly. On the practical level, we knew we wouldn’t have the capacity to post new content multiple times a day the way an engaging website does. And we also wanted to publish content that was less immediately responsive to current events, content that was considered over several months instead of caught up in the news cycle.

Knowing that the indie mags that had folded right before we launched were devastated by debt and the collapse of a distributor that owed them money they couldn’t afford to lose, we made a promise never to take out debt for make/shift—always to print as many copies as we could pay for in cash, even if that meant forsaking visibility in the big bookstores that required a print run of more than 10,000. So we printed 1,000 copies of our first issue—and quickly sold out! We printed more, and then settled into our circulation of about 1,000-1,500 copies per issue.

We probably could have expanded circulation. But we decided early that we didn’t want to be a feminist media empire or follow a capitalist model of constant growth. We wanted to grow organically, sustainably, or be okay with not growing. We don’t think we didn’t grow because there are only 1,500 people in the world who want to read the kind of content we’ve been publishing, but because of what sustainable growth really means: we’ve been making this magazine on a volunteer basis for a decade, and no one ever really had time to put into marketing. Editing, administration, and distro took up our best energy and most of the
volunteer hours we had to give, and we accepted that.

In our first editors’ letter, a decade ago, we talked about making this feminist magazine via a feminist process. That means a lot of things, including a collaborative approach to editing, centering the voices of women of color, and making the magazine in a way that respects the many aspects of our lives. “What if one of us decides to be a parent? Gets sick? . . . Has to take on even more hours of paying work? Simply needs a break? [Can] we collectively create a process that lets us make this magazine, as volunteers who have multifaceted lives, in a sustainable, healthy way?”

In the ten years since we wrote that, all of those things have happened, and more. Kids. Cancer. Increasing workloads at our paid jobs. The death of a parent. Breakups. Moves. New relationships. Life.

And the biannual make/shift schedule kept rolling along. There were many times we looked at each other and wondered, “How are we going to do this?” Then we’d reprioritize, take short or alternating breaks, put it all in perspective, and keep making make/shift while also being present with the always-full rest of our lives.

Around year seven or eight, we realized we were less and less able to give make/shift the time it needed, but we loved the magazine and pressed on. More years passed, and we had fewer hours to give, and were also just tired. There are times in your life when you want to work till midnight putting in a third shift on an activist or art project, and other times when you want more sleep, or space to think or be with your family or hang out with your sweetie. We managed to do all those things while making make/shift for years, but we had hit a point where we were barely getting the magazine done, let alone participating in other activist and art projects in our communities. Make/shift is a community-based publication, rooted in the movements it documents, and we felt increasingly disconnected from those movements. We want time to reconnect locally, on the ground, with our neighbors and families and friends, with feminist movement and community. About a year and a half ago, we came to the same conclusion, independently, at pretty much exactly the same time: that as much as we loved make/shift, it was time to move toward ending it.

We never intended for make/shift to last forever. We have always conceived of it as part of a river of feminist conversations—we wanted to engage with, amplify, and contribute to a vast, generations-long, feminist-of-color-centered discourse about liberation. We wanted to document the feminist cultures and actions of our time that were working within that legacy—multi-issue, multi-voiced, and intersecting in every way. We have loved being in that river through make/shift, which has more than anything felt like a river of relationships. (The other thing that happened at that conference where Jess overheard someone wondering how we’d ever sustain a print magazine is that she met Lisa Factora-Borchers, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Sydette Harry, brownfemipower, and Adela Nieves—all of whom became core contributors to make/shift.)

This issue was supposed to come out in December. In November, we were behind schedule but trying to catch up, and then the U.S. presidential election happened. We’ve never been about immediate reactions to the news, but we have always been about multiple voices and intersectional-feminist vision rooted in communities, relationships, real life. We knew feminists of color had long been imagining and creating alternatives to the kind of world this new administration wanted. So we rethought our plans for the last issue. We cut a few pieces (sorry, and we hope they find other homes) and reached out to longtime contributors with some questions about what they were thinking and feeling after the election. You’ll find selections of their answers throughout this issue.

As we were again trying to finish the final make/shift in January, the Women’s March happened. We thought, how can we not address this? And then we remembered, we’ve made a decision, it’s time, there will always be something. People are offering critical and brilliant and necessary takes on the Women’s March in other spaces, and that conversation is going to keep flowing just as it always has. We’ve done what we could do in this space, in ten years and twenty issues, and we look forward to participating in the river in different ways from here on out. Thank you for being in conversation, and in motion, with us.

Love,

Jess and Daria
June 2017

 

ISSUE 20, SUMMER/FALL 2017

 

COLUMNS

POET IN RESIDENCE
Alexis Pauline Gumbs


CENTRALLY LOCATED
By Erin Aubry Kaplan


NOBODY PASSES
By Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore


SPECIAL TO ISSUE 20

ART & COMMUNITY
Amitis Motevalli Interviewed by Stephanie Abraham

TO ALL WHO CAME BEFORE, WE SAY PA'LANTE
Emma Torres Interviewed by Anna Elena Torres

SOMOS GUERRERAS
Rebeca Lane Interviewed by Maya Jupiter

PUT YOUR BODY UPON THE GEARS
A Conversation between Jenna Peters-Golden and Manju Rajendran

WITHOUT INTERMISSION: A STORY OF GRIEF AND THE SEARCH FOR THE POLITICAL
Essay by Shane Burley

MONEY IS AN ANTI-CAPITALIST FEMINIST ISSUE
Hadassah Damien Interviewed by Jessica Lawless

Plus: art by Isa Benn, Hijas de la Paz, post-election reflections, reviews, the make/shift crossword puzzle, and more.