Interviewsand Articles


Newsletter #3--Five Worlds: Editor's Introduction

by Richard Whittaker, Dec 5, 2007



    Our newsletter is a work in progress. It’s evolving out of our print magazine works & conversations. It astounds me to be sending out our third issue to nearly ten thousand people. It’s been less than a year since I joined forces with CharityFocus. For over fifteen years works & conversations never saw anything close to such numbers.
    In our third newsletter we make no attempt at a theme. Each piece introduces the reader to a different world. There’s the world of Jim Brooks, for instance, an extraordinary man, local cowboy legend and a singer-songwriter. I ran into him on the street in Elko, Nevada where I’d gone to cover the Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Snow was on the ground. It was January and I’d just stepped out of Capriola’s, famous for its western gear of all kinds. It’s amazing the people you can meet if you risk saying hello to a stranger and starting a little conversation.
    Then there’s Rolando Castellon, one of the founders of the Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco, still going strong after over thirty years. For me, Rolando was another stranger, but I met him in conditions closer to home, at Meridian Gallery in San Francisco. The world we enter through this conversation takes us from Nicaragua to the U.S. and then into the art world as traveled by a man of unique sensibility.
    Our article by Elia van Tuyl takes us to Cambodia, to a huge dump outside of Phnom Pehn. I met van Tuyl at the Berkeley Art Center’s International Small Film Festival where his film was one of the best we screened. It detailed the plight of children who spend their lives amid the refuse of Steung Meanchey, not a sentimental film, but it brought us all to tears. Despair and Love in Cambodia provides an insight into a radically different world, but one now tinged with real hope.
    Meredith Sabini’s story The Dumpster is quite another tale. Here an encounter with a dumpster opens a window on a world of material wellbeing and, at the same, reveals a different kind of poverty. In a society of disposal goods, is there any medium that can still carry a kind of mana from generation to generation? Sabini’s meditation is a beautifully written account of an experience that changed her life.
     Finally, our conversation with Jacqueline Thurston takes us to Egypt, both ancient and contemporary. Recently retired from the art faculty at San Jose State University, Thurston wanted to revisit a profound experience among the temples she’d had years before in Egypt. She wanted to understand something. Thurston’s account of her time in Egypt is beautifully told.
     Each of these pieces is special. Our third issue is packed full of material for thought and a kind of sustenance for those who can take the time to read it all—over 28,000 words actually, and with no ads [which is true of our magazine, as well].
     A question just occurs to me: is finding oneself in a newsletter or magazine free of advertising like getting a break from the noise of contemporary life? Does it open a little extra space? If have some thoughts on that, I’d love to hear about them.  
     And if you like what you find here, you should surf around our website, where there is a tremendous amount of content available and freely given.

—Richard Whittaker, editor
works & conversations

About the Author

Richard Whittaker is the founder of works & conversations magazine.


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