Fresh Dirt Ithaca
Fresh Dirt Ithaca is a local green living magazine featuring stories and profiles of our friends and neighbors who are examples of green and sustainable living.
What’s Good loves Fresh Dirt because we have such similar missions: by celebrating the people doing it right here and now, we can inspire a greater community to make change for a more sustainable future. With a vision of bringing our local success to the national stage to inspire broader change, Editor-in-Chief Tommy Dunne and Executive Editor Rebecca Barry started by bringing their national talent to a local level to produce Fresh Dirt Ithaca.
A Q&A with Tommy and Rebecca about the Creativity Issue, on shelves this week. The Creativity Issue was designed by Joe Lamarre, edited by Tommy and Rebecca, and the photo editor is Robyn Wishna.
What is Fresh Dirt?
TD: Fresh Dirt Ithaca is a green living magazine for Tompkins County. We started it four years ago through a class at Ithaca College and we are on issue number four, which just came out!
Who is it good for?
RB: Well, at first we thought that it was going to be for women who have kids and families and who are interested in raising children in a way that is sustainable and kind to the earth, and in a way that’s healthy for the children. But really, everybody reads it. Kids read it, adults read it… the demographic has really delighted us. It’s a much broader demographic than we thought.
What kind of change are you trying to make?
TD: Right now, sustainability and environmentalism are still viewed as sort of a fringe movement, and we’d like to make it mainstream. It’s pretty much mainstream in Ithaca already so this is a great place to start, but down the line we’d like to make it a national magazine and try to make the movement bigger.
How did it start?
TD: I had the idea for this probably ten years ago and put a business plan together to go national. I finished it right as the economy tanked and magazines were folding left and right and I decided that wasn’t the time to raise a few million dollars to start a new magazine. So I shelved the idea, and then I was working at Ithaca College and proposed a course to create a community magazine for Tompkins County. It got accepted and funded and that’s how we did the first issue. And then we went out on our own and have done three since.
What impact does it have on our community?
RB: That’s a really hard question because we feel like it’s really a reflection of how the community has impacted us. It’s a reflection of all the amazing things people are doing to live the life that we’d actually like to see… the world that we’d like to see.
How has the community supported you?
RB: We have really wonderful advertisers! And, people let us come into their homes and ask them questions, then we print what they say…. that’s kind of a big deal.
What struggles have you encountered?
TD: We’re taking a national magazine model and putting it on a county of 100,000. I also work for Glamour part-time and I was reading the last issue and there were 82 pages of edit. This issue of Fresh Dirt has 62 pages of edit. Glamour has a staff of maybe 150 and we have a staff of about five.
RB: And we have two small children!
What should we be celebrating?
RB: Well, I think that we should be celebrating this landscape. This place is so beautiful and it gives so much to us. I think there are people here who really want to be stewards of it.
You know that bumper sticker “Ithaca is 10 square miles surrounded by reality”? You know, I get that bumper sticker, I think it’s funny. But I also feel like Ithaca and the outlying areas are reality. Why do we act like that sprawl is the only real reality when this is a really amazing reality? And why shouldn’t it be everywhere? We’re celebrating that: Look at this amazing reality. It rocks!
How can we participate?
RB: Buying the magazine is awesome. Sending it to all your friends outside of town is great. Advertising in it is great. And at some point, we’re going to be looking for more funding. So if you’re interested in helping us fund it, come get in touch with us because we have some expansive ideas!
TD: You can also send stuff to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Or pick one up at Greenstar, Wegman’s, Good to Go, and other local retailers.4
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