Important Update from Team Shameless
Illustration: Beena Mistry
Dear Shameless readers,
You may not have received our latest publication or perhaps not read the letter from the Editor. We wanted to take a moment to share the letter from the editor on our website as Shameless is taking a moment to pause, to undertake rest, and to work through a chrysalis process so that we may emerge on the other side better equipped to do our work in the world. What does this mean for your subscription and the magazine?
For the time being, the Shameless team is investigating and connecting with each other again, and we have paused print issues. We know that you may have additional questions about how this might impact your specific subscription or relationship with the magazine, and we hope to bring more clarity to you in the form of concrete answers by the start of May 2023.
If you have any questions please e-mail the Board of Directors at email@example.com
Respectfully yours in resistance, The Board of Directors of Shameless
Letter to the Editor, Issue #47, Transformations
Over a decade ago, Shameless went through a period of transformation and generative growth. Our first issue as a then-new team (Issue 16: Rock ‘n’ Riot!) launched at a very packed Toronto Women’s Bookstore and was received by our community with excitement, generosity and abundance.
Since then, we have published 31 issues (just writing that made my heart explode!); we’ve tackled challenging topics; we’ve reimagined and re-started our youth advisory board (YAB), focusing on building capacity for media justice, feminist organizing and collective creativity; we’ve run a podcast camp; we’ve shared our learning with other social justice publications; we’ve signed and written open letters and statements in support of social movements; we’ve held two conferences and at one point, a semi-regular dance party. We’ve done a lot.
What’s less visible is the way we’ve done it: we’ve built friendships (and some of us with little ones are watching the next generation of those friendships flourish, too!); we’ve shared food (lots of it!); we’ve worked at the pace of trust and care, allowing things to ebb and flow as needed to make sure everyone is okay; we’ve transformed anger and frustration with the world as it is into hope and possibility for what it could be. We’ve cultivated a community.
In the before-times, that community was visceral. It would manifest at our launches, at fundraising events, at conferences, at YAB workshops and youth-led events. Once, we were invited to set up an installation at the Artists Newsstand (an artist-run newsstand at a busy subway station in Toronto), and for one evening, this community looked like conversations over hot chocolate with strangers stopping by on their commute home. Once a month, it would materialize in my living room where we all crowded around a chip buffet and spent an hour-and-a-half of our two-hour meeting just catching up. It would linger as we washed dishes and put away cushions and talked about reality TV together. It would linger even longer, until our next meeting. It stayed with me while I sat in grief over my father’s death, and while I fumbled my way through the early days of parenthood.
Like everyone, we entered this pandemic with a lot of unknowns. Working with the information in front of us, we paused all in-person YAB programming, staff meetings, community events, galas, celebrations, conferences, workshops and outings. All these pauses felt temporary at the time, but “just until the fall…” became “just until next summer…”, and then “just until the new year…”. It went on. It goes on; the just-untils are still happening. These pauses keep us and our communities safe and our work accessible, but without space and time to reflect intentionally on what replaces them, they also erode the ways we used to share joy and connect to one another and our audiences.
As we transition into a new year and approach a new decade of feminist publishing, we want to pay attention to what’s at the heart of Shameless: this small-but-mighty team of absolutely brilliant activists, organizers, editors, artists and writers — the people who make this project happen. We want to take a moment to reflect on what’s been taken from us — from all of us — over the past few years, to name our needs, both individual and collective, and to make sure that Shameless operates in a way that meets as many of those needs as possible.
We also want to ask some bigger questions:
What contributions has Shameless made to youth-centred feminist media? What role can we play in its future?
What is feminism, anyway?
How can Shameless continue to support justice-seeking social movements, both through our publishing activities and programming?
How can we foster intergenerational leadership through our work?
How can we continue to centre care: for ourselves, each other, our collaborators and our audiences?
We are so excited to deepen our relationships — to each other and to our work — through an iterative and non-linear process of visioning.
In late 2021, we published an issue on Radical Caring. In my editor’s letter, I wrote about the role of care in our feminist praxis; that working at the pace of trust and care is the one thing we can do to resist the ways capitalism chews up and spits out feminist organizations. We realized that, as volunteers, we can’t give proper time, space and attention to the questions above (and the many more to come!), while also running youth programming, producing print issues and maintaining our blog — not to mention carrying the load of full-time work or school, fighting for the safety and dignity of our communities, and taking what we need for our own mental health.
So, we’ve decided to put our feminist politics into practice, to put down what’s too heavy to carry at the moment, and enter a chrysalis period. For the next three months, we’ll be focusing on care: taking a little pause to make sure we’re all okay with what the world is throwing at us (and holding space for each other if and when we’re not!). We’ll be catching our breath, taking intentional rests and carving out spaces for joy and connection should we need them.
Following that, we’ll be engaging in a visioning process: creating facilitated spaces to talk about the past, present and future of Shameless as we prepare to enter our third decade as an organization. Our next issue, projected for the summer of 2023, will mark my transition out of my role as Editorial Director (though never from my role as a Shameless supporter!). We can’t wait to announce this, and other changes to come.
To you — our readers, subscribers, writers, artists and supporters — we are so deeply appreciative of your understanding and support during this time. We encourage you to reach out with questions about your subscriptions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and to follow us at shamelessmag.com and on social media for occasional pieces we just couldn’t wait for, and organizational announcements, updates and calls for team members. As always, I will continue to respond to all Shameless-related emails, albeit at a more restful pace. I look forward to this process, to our next issue, and to many more years of talking back.