Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Roots of the Owl Creek Gazette ...

by co-editor, Jan Stover

Welcome to the Owl Creek Gazette … a new regional magazine dedicated to celebrating and enhancing self-reliant living in and around South Central Illinois. For years, my husband, Don, and I have been inspired by national publications with a self-reliant theme such as Backwoods Home Magazine and Mother Earth News and now we'd like to offer up a regional publication in that same vein. As some of you may recall, we've been involved with other publications in the past, most notably The Senior Review, a magazine for Senior Citizens which I co-edited with my mother, Hazel Jones. Don was involved in that endeavor as well, though taking a more behind the scenes approach then (with the exception of writing his popular Mr. Fix-it column). He served as the publication's tech guy and burned the late night oil with us as we put the finishing touches on each issue before going to press.

Now with this new publication, we're planning to broaden the focus of our writing to include many aspects of self-reliant living -- in part due to the changing economy which has many people rethinking their own current and future actions and in part because we've always had an independent streak that manifests itself in most all of our undertakings.

For those of you familiar with Backwoods Home and its founder, Dave Duffy, you'll know that Dave was inspired to begin his publication as a direct result of his personal efforts and experiences which came from building his off-the-grid-under-$10,000 home back in the day. Dave tells his readers that he had originally hoped to write a book outlining the process and offering valuable tips to other would-be-off-the-gridders, but at the time publishers were not jumping at the chance to publish such a book. However being the self-reliant individual Dave is, starting his own magazine to get his message out was a perfect fit. And now Backwoods Home publishes and sells all kinds of great books on self-reliance.

Similarly, Don and I have our own inspiration – a little plot of land we own and fondly refer to as “Owl Creek”. We have an old 70's motor home we park there during “camping season” and have high hopes of one day building a home on the property. But for now, it serves as our special little get-away which we happily share with family and friends. There's always a soft breeze whispering through the trees, the call of a neighborly owl or two, an inspiring nightly view of the stars, mixed with occasional surprises from nature like waking up to a scene of wild turkeys walking through the yard.

Until the time we do actually build, we're happy to while away the hours at Owl Creek (in between the inevitable demands, responsibility and commitments life brings with it). We enjoy the dreaming and planning of future possibilities and look forward to bringing you, our readers, along for the ride.

Now, for a bit more about those inspirations from the past that have led us here. Besides Backwoods Home, I mentioned Mother Earth News. I can still see my dad reading the publication from cover to cover, processing the content for consideration and later use. If memories serves me correctly, it was my brother, Jeff, who introduced our family to the publication. In 1979, Mother Earth News announced it was offering a series of summer seminars on its new 600-plus-acre research property in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Mom, Dad and I decided this was something we didn't want to miss. We loaded up the car and headed to out. Mom and I participated in the workshops, Dad hovered around the electric car and visited with lots of like-minded folks – and in spite of the rain which left the grounds a muddy mess, it was an event worth experiencing. And not to go unmentioned was a special item we purchased on that same trip -- my wedding dress. Don and I were married in the Fall on that same year (btw, we’ll be celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary this October 21st).

Another publication that has provided us with information, entertainment and inspiration over the years is the Brown County Democrat -- the local newspaper of one of our favorite vacation spots, Brown County, Indiana. The Democrat features a much beloved iconic character named Abe Martin who offers up sage advice in a Mark Twain-esqe fashion. We’re hoping to eventually have our own version of Abe Martin (courtesy of a Wise Old Owl) who will provide similar bits of quirky wisdom here on the pages of the Owl Creek Gazette.

Also worth mentioning is a publication we were recently introduced to while visiting our children in California -- the Idyllwild Town Crier. This small town newspaper sports a delightfully wonderful feel of community, which is another aspect we hope to incorporate here as well. (See our Creating Community article on page 4)

So good readers ... grounded in these roots and with an eye toward the future, we welcome you to the Owl Creek Gazette and look forward to sharing in and with the self reliant community of South Central Illinois.


Val V said...

Hope yous guys get to start your building projects soon - Deb and I know from (recent) experience that these projects *never* happen as fast as one would like and also *never* seem to be complete: by the time you finish one chicken coop, you need another/bigger one; there are never enough fences to keep the rabbits, racoons - and the chickens OUT of your garden; you have to store all your feed, equipment, and gardening tools *someplace* ('build another shed' time!) and we've barely *started* fixing up OUR living quarters.

We've got it comparatively easy - having water, electricity, and phone/internet available on the property - so not even trying to be "off the grid" yet.

Mother Earth News, Countrysides, and our favorite - Backwoods Home magazines are all valuable resources for the "get away from the city!" folks. On a recent trip to Chicago - I was unable to find ANY of these titles at the airport news stands. It could be just because they don't sell as many copies as People, Cosmo, or "Muscle Car" magazine (?) or it could be a clever ploy to keep this valuable information OUT of people's hands. (you be the judge)

At any rate - sorry we can't be there to celebrate the launch of your new publication - it sounds great and I hope you get he opportunity to start improving your Owl Creek rural property!

Chrissy said...

So glad you are putting your writing skills to work! You have such an easy to read writing style. I feel like I'm just sitting on the porch talking with you. I love it.

Don and Jan Stover said...

Val ... Jan here.

Thanks for taking the time to drop by our blog and add your experiences and words of encouragement. Don and I enjoyed reading your comments when you initially posted them – and similarly, just like all those building projects you mention that are always somewhere between being started and being completed, writing projects tend to be the same way here at the Gazette. So I find myself just now getting back to your post to add this response.

BTW, hats off to you and Deb for your own "get away from the city" choices. I'm thinking the Owl Creek Gazette and our readers might just appreciate a good "how-to" article (with photos) from the two of you!

And we'll keep you posted on any/all new building developments at Owl Creek.

Don and Jan Stover said...

Chrissy ... Jan here.

Thanks for your kind comments. And btw, I miss those days when we actually shared conversations on our front porches. We'll have to invite you all out to Owl Creek this Spring for some first rate fun!