Tough Love Workshop: Creative Nonfiction
Every Wednesday in March, from 7:00-9:30, we’ll be hosting The Intentional Quarterly’s first ever Tough Love Workshop: Creative Nonfiction. In this intimate class–capped at 12 students–instructor Allison Sparks will guide students through workshopping each students’ writing. The class will also include short writing exercises for review and discussion, as well as lively discussion of the submission and publishing process, ways to incorporate dedicated writing practices into your day-to-day, and making and maintaining writing connections in the DC area.
Issue 2: Outsiders & Misfits
We think you’ll find that issue 2 is a huge improvement on our inaugural issue, with great stuff like: stark yet stunning illustration by Kreh Mellick, a quirky interview with speculative designer Thomas Thwaites, featured art by Katherine Mann and Lisa Marie Thalhammer, a collaborative piece of personal essays on the ethics of travel, our first ever poetry feature by Robert Lietz, and more.
Alana Ramo is partnerships director for The Intentional. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alison Sher is co-founder of www.beyoubesure.com.
Andrew Crosson is a researcher, writer, and community-based development coordinator. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Caitlin Wells is a theater artist and teacher.
Cody Braun is copy editor for The Intentional. He is a journalist, editor, musician, and adventurer.
Courtney M. McSwain is a freelance writer and storytelling consultant. She can be reached via www.courtneymcswain.com.
C.R. Russo is a physicist, chef, and writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Campbell is a writer, filmmaker, traveler, and dreamer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Emily Crockett is a freelance writer and editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessie Schmitz is a writer, traveler, and waitress. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Kamal Jauad is arts and events assistant for The Intentional. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kate Jenkins is founder and editor-in-chief of The Intentional. She is a writer, editor, cultural entrepreneur, and ideas woman. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Kate Warren is a freelance photographer. She can be reached via www.gokateshoot.com.
Katharine Pelzer is marketing director and fiction/poetry editor for The Intentional. She is also a writer, an environmental consultant, and a pretty good cook. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katherine Mann is a painter and Fulbright arts grantee. She can be reached via www.katherinemann.net.
Kreh Mellick is a visual artist and freelance illustrator. She can be reached via www.krehmellick.com.
LA Johnson is lead designer and art director for The Intentional. She is a visual artist, illustrator, and graphic designer who holds a BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Lisa Marie Thalhammer is a painter and muralist. She can be reached via www.lisamariestudio.com.
Margo Herre is an aspiring med student and writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Lietz is a poet who has published eight collections to date. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Shiloh J. Smith is a landscape photographer. She can be reached via www.shilohj.zenfolio.com.
Wei Tchou is creative non-fiction editor for The Intentional. She is a non-fiction writer and editor with an MFA from Hunter College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Event: Issue 2 Release Party,
Sept. 26, 2013
A warm thanks to Chez Billy for hosting our second issue release party, as well as to the Milk Cult food truck for providing food, to Delicious Spectacle for curating art, to Red Table Press, Pleasant Plains, Hole in the Sky, and others for the on-site art sales, and to The Arcade for design-your-own screen printing. Thanks also to bands Teen Mom and Brett for their awesome performances!
Keep an eye out for the upcoming video from the booth at the party. In the meantime, check out more pictures on Facebook, courtesy of Ben Droz.
Letter from the Editor, Issue 2
Over the past year, I’ve encountered a lot of people who have struggled to wrap their brains around the concept that anyone would want to start a print magazine. When people ask, “and what do you do?” my reply is probably the last thing they expect to hear.
In turn, I used to be surprised that these strangers’ reactions to my answer were so highly emotional, ranging from enthusiastic high-fives, to skeptically raised eyebrows, to mocking laughter, to incredulous eye-rolling, and even to frustrated or furious outbursts. But by now I’ve learned that people are defensive of their world-views and their perceptions of what is and is not possible; the audacity of starting a print magazine is offensive and frightening to many.
People have all kinds of opinions about what we’re doing wrong. Approximately one of three people I meet suggests that we should abandon ship and start a blog. Others may dig the print scene but believe we ought to rein it in, play it safe, publish nothing over 1,000 words.
After receiving an abundance of letters and questions on the subject from closeted publishing consultants everywhere, I realize that now is the moment for me to declare publicly, formally, why we have committed to print as our chosen medium for the important dialogue we hope to spark.
The most powerful argument that print can and should persevere through the digital age, admittedly, is emotional.
I’m always tempted to respond to the raised eyebrows with an anecdote about the first time I fell in love and spent a whole college semester running down a hill. Every weeknight that spring, I left my crappy telemarketing job at around 9 pm. My boyfriend would be cooking dinner at his apartment in anticipation of my return. I speed-walked the 20 minutes home, trying to keep a cool façade. That is, until I reached the top of the big hill overlooking the squat, drab complex; it was there that I could see him through the kitchen window, pan-frying fish. Every day, at that same spot, I broke into a desperate sprint.
The urge to create is in some way akin to the impulse that propelled me down that endless hill. We create for the same reason we fuck and fight, we squat to pee between cars and we pose nude for art’s sake and we look people in the eye and, rather than laughing things off, we say the things that make them uncomfortable. Things that are screaming true. We rarely make art because it is practical; we do it because our hearts and our minds ache to engage, to leave a mark.
Sometimes, there is no good answer to the “why” question. The Intentional is long-form because it is, because I had a magazine baby, and it was born that way. Because that is what was conceived when the world asked me how I wanted to interact with it.
I had to hope that maybe folks would learn to love my impractical magazine, in spite of the inconvenient fact that they can’t read all of it in the time it takes them to shit.
There does also seem to be a somewhat logical argument in defense in print. Whispers floating around the Internet indicate that some media people believe “indie rags,” “boutique print,” “artisanal magazines”—whatever we choose to call them—are actually on the rise, despite the general decline of print media as a whole. These publications usually share a few characteristics, which I believe to be crucial to their success.
First, they don’t tend to deal in news, current events, or anything else that expires quickly; people are going to go to the Internet for things that are time-sensitive. With this in mind, we indie rags know the value of creating a physical product that will endure through time. The Intentional adheres to this philosophy by printing on quality paper and by putting a strong emphasis on stunning design, thoughtful curation, and fascinating art. Our goal is to create something that can be thought of as many of us think of books—a keepsake, a collection of art to be displayed on coffee tables and bookshelves, rather than something that will end up in the garbage after it’s read, like People or Time. We just pray to all the gods we know of that readers find this to be a product worth their money.
And indeed there are those who know its value. While print magazines are never again going to be for everyone, there is, at least, the “slow art movement,” as it’s been coined, which represents a steady base of support for records, Polaroids, print, and all things artisanal. Presumably, a new generation is drawn to these cultural items because they force consumers to take the time and space to really connect with someone else’s work. The movement is part of a larger “DIY” thing can be seen as pushback against the digital age. Though I find much of this trendy obsession with all things retro and hand-made to be insufferably kitsch, the urge to read entire articles at once and listen to albums—if not instead of, at least in addition to Spotify playlists—is beautiful and celebrateable.
Apart from defending print as an art form and detailing the reasons why, if executed correctly, a print magazine can succeed, I should explain why print is the correct medium for the particular conversation The Intentional wishes to trigger. We are dedicated to a meaningful analysis of our modern lifestyles, of the realities and the changes engendered by the digital generation thus far—a daunting task, given that the mammoth, systemic cultural and social shifts are so all-encompassing that it’s nearly impossible to remember what things were like before. And while Twitter et al have been great for generating social commentary, they fail at providing the perspective needed to see significant conversation topics, news items, and societal dilemmas clearly. These are problems that cannot be definitively answered, decisions that cannot be made in 140 character shouts, and we do ourselves a great injustice by allowing them to go stale within the hour.
How can we find satisfaction as individuals? How can we best coexist? Where do we want to be going as a society? How should we get there? Though the terms might change, these questions don’t expire—not even after an entire generation. Aren’t they worth taking time and space to truly consider?
We think so. For that reason, we are not interested in making the literary equivalent of a microwaveable meal. I hope our supporters agree that print is the right way to pursue a sustained discussion with an infinite shelf life.
We do envision moving toward a more interactive website with more unique content. But the focus is—and will always remain—the enjoyment of the hard copy. The thing you are holding, right now, in your hand. Everything else simply serves to enhance that experience.
We are making a do-or-die stand for print. Yes, I’ll put it down in writing. We’re aware that someday this thing might capsize. But you can bet we’re going down with the ship.
Photo courtesy of Kate Warren.
Event: Next Up DC,
July 11, 2013
We partnered with Be You Be Sure for an evening of thought-provoking speakers at the Dunes in DC. Kate Jenkins and Alison Lea Sher, the ladies behind The Intentional and BYBS, selected 10 young, local up-and-comers who are working to leave their footprints on the District. These speakers gave TED-style, Pecha Kutcha-eque lightning talks that shared their passions, their experiences, and their perspectives. It was an incredible introduction of these bright voices to our community of friends in DC. Speakers competed for a cash prize, with the audience voting on the winner.
Big thanks to DJ Adrian Loving, MC Aaron Anderson, and The Dunes for hosting the event.
Photo courtesy of Chioma Urama.
Still Life with Waitress
We shot these portraits as a way to conceptualize the struggles of waitstaff everywhere to make use of their true talents. Waiting tables is symbolic to us of the frustrations that accompany the unlimited potential, freedom and flexibility on one hand – and the limited open doors on the other – of living out the twenty-something years.
Photos courtesy of Nick Balleza.
Illustration, Issue 2: Kreh Mellick
This Asheville-based artist was recently featured in the Oxford American as a talented Southern up-and-comer. We love her simple black, white, and red drawings and cannot wait for her to conceptualize issue 2′s articles. Hang in there! In the meantime, check her out here.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Bellemare.
Event: DC Launch Party,
April 5, 2013
Some cops were called, some instruments were broken, and the bar’s capacity was soundly exceeded. But with nearly 400 in attendance, let’s call our DC launch party for issue 1 a success.
No small thanks to mad momos for the venue, Shark Week for the music, Make DC Smile for their art installation, and media partner the Pink Line Project for making it a spectacular evening. More pictures on Facebook from photographers like Sebastian Vizcarra, Ben Droz, Britt Nelson, and Steve Van Sickle.
Photo courtesy of Ben Droz.
Event: Book Swap Party,
Jan 23, 2013
We hosted a book swap party themed “this book changed my life.” Attendees were required to show up with a book and to write a letter on the inside cover, addressed to whomsoever would receive the book, which detailed why the book had changed their lives. The crowd sourced reading list can be found in the back of issue 1.
Want to host your own book swap in your city? E-mail the editor and she’ll help you set it up. She might even put your party’s reading list in the print magazine. You can also swap a book directly with her through snail mail.
Photo courtesy of Yago Hunt-Laudi.
Event: “Press Pause Play”
Screening, Nov 27, 2012
We teamed up with the Pink Line Project to host a screening of Press Pause Play at the rad new venue, Tropicalia. The film is a highly acclaimed documentary about how the democratization of the arts in the digital age has created both positive and negative effects for producers (and consumers) of the arts, and what this means for art and music moving forward. If you missed the event, don’t miss out on downloading the film for free from their web site.
Letter from the Editor, Issue 1
To understand what The Intentional is about, some context is crucial. By “context” I refer to my background as the founder, and why my experiences led me to create this project from the ground up. But perhaps more importantly, I refer to my entire generation’s place in history.
This is a place that many have sought to assign to us. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you haven’t picked up a newspaper in a long time. There is a veritable stream of recent articles that have emerged regarding the peculiar personality of my generation, and few of them are flattering. And in case we weren’t discouraged enough by the flurry of misnomers and insults thrown at us—namely, that we are apathetic, entitled, and irresponsible (we are pioneering “emerging adulthood” as a new stage of life, after all)—we must now swallow Time’s suggestion that our generation be renamed “Generation Screwed.” Newsstands everywhere are becoming increasingly hostile.
Add to that the surge of entertainment that seeks to explore what it means to be 20-something in the 2010s, and one can easily come to the conclusion that our generation and its misadventures is a topic about which the American public feels great curiosity. I probably don’t have to mention the HBO show Girls, in which the protagonist Hannah clumsily seeks to be “the voice of my generation…or at least a voice, of a generation.” Even choosing to reference the show is trite, but my point is proven; people are talking a lot about Girls and the lost young people in it, who are so enticingly easy to relate to.
So why are we so damn interesting? I can’t decide if it has more to do with who we are or what we’ve been through.
In mentioning “what we’ve been through,” again I feel it’s unnecessary to explain myself by detailing the economic plunge that occurred on roughly the same day I graduated college. My friend W’s intimate connection to this plunge is pretty classic. He writes to me: “I couldn’t even tell you how many jobs I applied to that said, ‘We’re looking for a former middle school teacher, ideally someone who taught seventh grade English, who quintupled the pass rate on the EOG in two years, and who has had some experience with nonprofit communications and D3 sports reporting. The ideal candidate will have the initials WHN; that way we don’t have to make a new name badge.’ And I’m like, that’s ME! But then I wouldn’t get an interview.”
While we have all heard enough of these personal accounts to make our ears bleed, it seems that we are failing to analyze an important element to the collective hurt. Our experiences only really have meaning because of who we are. Satisfaction in life is inextricable from the ways in which our realities measure up to the expectations we lay out for our lives, and 20-somethings were raised to expect we would have it all. Our brilliant careers would fulfill us, define us, pay us big money, and leave us with enough time to enjoy our families and the extravagant travel experiences that would surely lie within our reach. With our “you can do anything” upbringing, boy are 20-somethings disappointed with reality.
I am probably a very typical example. I won’t go into the details of my academic performance, but let’s just say that I was an overachiever. And today, after excessive education and preparation, I use precisely none of it in my job as a waitress. In an attempt to squeeze some meaning out of the experience, I even conceived of a collaborative concept blog called Still Life with Waitress where other writer-waitresses could come and express what it feels like when you teach a person to define herself by her profession. And then self-perception sort of collapses in on itself in the absence of a profession.
For reasons I’m sure you can intuit, the project is on hold.
But just as I understand that I am not unique among young Americans in suffering the consequences of this major historical crisis, I also feel a popular connection to the Occupy movements and their vague pleas for the construction of a better life. There is a long, unspeakable, common thread of longing that unites the personal disappointment I’ve experienced with the collective disappointment that fueled the Occupy movements, and even that which inspired the Arab Spring. But it isn’t as simple as many would like to believe. Watching the Occupy events unfold, I remember thinking: this isn’t just about unemployment.
To my continued surprise, I frequently find evidence to support this theory through conversations I wander into with fellow 20-somethings who are situated on the other side of the successful/not-successful line that I foolishly drew between us years ago. Take my friend J, for example. J has one of the most coveted jobs a young, educated American could dream up; it is creative, it is challenging, it is prestigious, it has an impact on the world, and it happens to be in a swanky office in SoHo. I have frequently assumed that true fulfillment in life is reserved for people in positions such as this, and so I found it first baffling and then endlessly entertaining when he informed me that work was “good, I guess,” but that J’s real ambition was to quit so that he could work in a coffee shop. Say what? Doesn’t J know that professional prestige is the magic bullet against all of life’s frustrations? Rebounding from the shock of hearing a stylishly employed young person mirror my practiced sense of restlessness, I finally thought to ask him why he didn’t just take the plunge. My dear friend replied by asking “if I had any idea how hard it is to get a barista job in New York.”
J and I are learning the same thing on opposite sides of the divide. Satisfaction doesn’t work like a straightforward equation of inputs (say, an ideal career) and outputs, and this fact is at audacious odds with the rhetoric we were fed as children.
It’s no wonder we like to plunge headlong into nihilistic ecstasy binges. And it’s no wonder we have such an affinity for teaching English abroad.
But before you write this off as yet another self-indulgent kvetch, and God knows, before you begin to feel sorry for us, I’d like to clarify by explaining just how thoroughly I’ve come to revel in my failure. In all the years of my childhood, through all the many times that adults told me how successful I would be when I grew up, it never once occurred to me to say “no, thank you.” So you’ll imagine my surprise when the gut-wrenching envy finally went into remission and some really beautiful things started to sprout up between the cracks in the pavement.
Don’t get me wrong—life was easier when I had a 5-year plan neatly tucked under my pillow at night. But through my personal adaptive process, I’ve become interested both experientially and academically in what Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert calls “synthetic happiness.” This is the idea that when we don’t get what we believe will make us happy, our brains compensate to such an extent that his research shows little to no difference in levels of happiness among subjects who recently became paraplegic and subjects who recently won the lottery.
Admittedly if I had gotten everything I expected from my career, then I would be significantly more rigid and less imaginative. I suppose the strength of character that one can only develop through failure is shared by an army of the “screwed.” If nothing else, we’ll come out of this scrappy as hell.
Our collective experience has been for many a catalyst toward re-evaluation of what matters and even towards revolutions in our personal lives. There is truly good work to be done in dismantling the prescribed roadmap to fulfillment that we’ve been brought up with, so that room can be made for a wider, fresher variety of approaches. As far as I can tell, advances are being made on this front. Consider the writers for this first issue, who were willing to volunteer their skill and time to the creation of something they deemed important. Their contributions have not done much for their professions, their bank accounts, or their search for that one perfect mate, but they did it anyway because it allows them to engage with a community of people who are seeking out the good life.
It’s rough, working through the unwieldy entanglement of societal assumptions and personal truths, but the process in itself is liberating. And there can be poise in talking about it. With the readers’ blessing, we’d like to proceed with a series of conversations about ways to intentionally seek out what I’ve come to simply refer to as quality of life. To blaze a fresh trail in the search for fulfillment—a trail that is not bounded by the constrictions of conventional expectations for career, family, or general lifestyle choices. (Because—I don’t know if you’ve heard—our generation just prefers to do things our own way).
Okay, so this is obviously a tall order. And as much as I’ve worked on articulating what The Intentional is getting at, the gist of it remains vague. But I no longer feel the need to apologize for that. This new perspective is partly inspired by an initiative called Le Laboratoire, which is sort of like a museum of ideas, encouraging the craft of brainstorming even in the absence of practicality, financial value, or usefulness. Founder David Edwards asserts that the production of ideas is in itself a valuable practice, and that notion has recently reshaped the way that I think about innovation. Perhaps even the end goal of innovation is allowed to be fuzzy. I envision The Intentional as a continually evolving platform for ideas that, when pieced together, might teach us something about how to really live it right.
Twenty-somethings, you know you aren’t apathetic. Cross-generational studies have proven that we are more concerned for the state of the world than our predecessors. And in fact, this goes a long way in explaining why we have felt so disappointed by our professional belly flops; so many of us genuinely wanted to dedicate our careers to making the world a better place, and so we are confused at why the world doesn’t seem to want or need our special talents. But as empathetic as we might be, we lack a common banner under which to unite. This is, incidentally, a common criticism at which supporters of the Occupy movements bristle; but I no longer believe that’s necessarily a weakness.
And so in this conversation about quality of life, very little will be left out of the mix. We will discuss international aid and volunteerism at length because the demographic of our readership understands the importance of creating meaning through service. But we also know that it isn’t enough. Personal growth, health and well-being, intellectual engagement, creative outlets, and a sense of community and connection with the human race all contribute to “the good life” and thus to this conversation.
My vision is that the bulk of the writing for The Intentional will be done not by seasoned middle-aged writers with prestigious careers behind them (which turns out to be quite convenient for the, uh, budget), but rather by young people you have never heard of who are nevertheless incredibly talented. This is their opportunity to speak up from within the thick of this madness.
I realized I could fill a whole magazine just with stories from people like me, waiting tables and seeking enlightenment. But creating a forum for unrestrained bitching seemed like it would breed more bitterness in the end, so we have limited our self-expression to occasional indulgences. The rest is an exercise in optimism and solution-oriented thinking.
There will be ample opportunity for participation in this forum. Thanks for joining it.
Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II.
Event: Issue 2 Release Party,
Sept. 26, 2013
Letter from the Editor, Issue 2
Event: Next Up DC,
July 11, 2013
Still Life with Waitress
Illustration, Issue 2: Kreh Mellick
Event: DC Launch Party,
April 5, 2013
Event: Book Swap Party,
Jan 23, 2013
Event: “Press Pause Play”
Screening, Nov 27, 2012
Letter from the Editor, Issue 1
The Intentional is a quarterly literary magazine committed to emerging creatives who are redefining success and quality of life. We showcase the perspective of a new generation to explore identity, purpose, and lifestyle through words and featured art.
The Intentional is the brainchild of passionate twenty-something advocates for change who, like so many of their peers, just couldn’t get a break to effectuate said changes. The intention was in place; the means were not. Perhaps because of the many failed promises and dashed hopes of our generation, the need for substantial dialogue about true quality of life and how to get it seemed all the more urgent. Thus, a new quarterly publication was born – one that serves as a platform for members of this stunted and oft misunderstood generation to express themselves and share ideas about new initiatives for improving our daily lives and our global community.
The Intentional does not cover politics, current events, or fashion. In our humble opinion, that is what the Internet is for. We do like to talk about the trials and tribulations of young adulthood, health and wellness, global issues, community-building, personal growth, gender and sex, city life, and arts/culture. Though there is much to be said for the problems our generation has inherited, we try to focus our conversation on potential solutions.
The media would have us believe that millennials are condemned to widespread failure and truncated personal development, but The Intentional believes that it’s all part of a painful but important restructuring process. With their out-of-the-box thinking and unconventional, groundbreaking perspectives, millennials are poised to redefine success entirely. Our readership is primarily made up of 25-34 year olds who are enterprising, bold, creative, critical thinkers. They are ready for change, but they’re optimistic about the future. We aim to engage them in a cutting-edge, honest conversation about the intersection of art, technology, city life, and social change and what all this means for the future of a frustrated generation.
Where to find us
The Intentional has been reviewed by Carolyn Lang at Brightest Young Things, Caroline Jones at Washington City Paper, Holley Simmons at the Washington Post Express, Lauren Landau at WAMU, and Kirsten McIlvenna at NewPages. We’ve also received extensive coverage of our events, including features by BYT and WAMU. Editor Kate Jenkins has been featured on Refinery29′s annual “30 under 30″ list, as well as on Brandon Wetherbee’s podcast You, Me, Them, Everybody. Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden also featured a video of her for their latest project, “The Tapestry.”
For press inquiries, please contact email@example.com.
We welcome submissions of both words and art. Our written features include well-researched journalism, interviews, place- or people-focused articles, non-fiction essays and some fiction. We are flexible with regard to subject matter and word count; we often don’t know what we’ll like until we see it.
As for journalism and interviews, we find it works better when the writer pitches the idea before diving into the project. Please send writing samples along with article pitches. With essays and fiction, completed work is acceptable.
We lean heavily on unsolicited non-fiction essays, as we are eager to hear about the experiences of millennials as they perceive them. The Intentional doesn’t have one signature style, but is open to experimenting with a variety of different voices. However, we are generally intellectual, playful, adventurous, unorthodox or, at times, shocking. We like our writers to know how to relate to readers and their community, and we have a particular affinity for writers who are able to pull off tongue-in-cheek while still remaining hopeful. We appreciate the need to make light of challenging circumstances and the urge to write and write about being young and lost. Though The Intentional is focused on solutions that promise higher “quality of life,” we realize that’s a lot to ask from an essay or article or photograph. So long as you don’t depress us too hard, aimless musings about the 20-something existence are okay.
Completed visual art in any of its forms is received with enthusiasm. Generally, we seek to publish multi-page spreads of featured art, rather than stand-alone pieces. Artists who are interested in illustrating for The Intentional can send samples and ideas.
Send all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line “____ Submission” (“Essay Submission,” “Photo Submission,” “Fiction Submission,” etc.) or “Article/Interview Pitch.” Submissions should be sent both in the body of the e-mail and as an attachment. If you wish to submit multiple pieces for consideration, please send each one individually. Bios and cover letters are unnecessary, but not unwelcome.
If work has been previously published, please clearly state where and when it was published in the body of your e-mail.
Unfortunately, we are unable to respond to writers and artists whose work is not selected for publication. If you do not hear back from us within one month, you can assume we are not interested, but that we are rooting for you to place it elsewhere.