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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Changes at the Clarion Content 

We are all playing for keeps.

As many of you know, there are major changes afoot at the Clarion Content. These changes are the simplest explanation for the dearth of articles this month past. We ask your forgiveness, dear readers, and offer assurance that we will have a better product on the other side.

The Clarion Content is moving from this location on Blogger to Wordpress

Follow this link to our new and improved site.

There are several reasons this is happening, but chief among them is that the Clarion Content has outgrown this site. The Clarion Content has also moved physical offices from Broad Street to the wonderful co-working space that is Mercury Studio on North Mangum Street.

We are moving virtual locations. We have moved physical locations. Beyond that, those of you who have dug all the way back to “The Introduction” to the first Clarion Content, on April Fool's Day 2006, know much evolution has taken place.

The Clarion Content was founded as a call to action. The word clarion was a deliberate choice to attempt to rally people around change. We desire a change in the human mindset to make the Golden Rule supreme. This belief remains at the core of all the writing we do.

However, the Clarion Content has grown and expanded beyond what we, your editor, could ever have imagined. If you read the introductory essay to this piece, you will notice there is little mention of covering Durham.

In the intervening years, Durham has become not only where we live, but our home. It, too, has also grown beyond all our expectations. When our editor moved here from Pacific Beach, California, no one was arguing that Durham might be the cultural capital of a generation. People from a little, old village, like Carrboro would have sneered (and probably chuckled) at the thought of moving to Durham for the culture. Now, folks regularly move to Durham from places like Portland and Brooklyn specifically for our fantastic culture.1 Now, Durham is lauded in the pages of the Boston Globe, the New York Post, the New York Times, Gourmet and more for our great food and cool atmosphere. Now, it is now entirely believable when people say Durham may be the Seattle or the Austin of the Millennial Generation.

The Clarion Content's coverage focus has shifted along with Durham's meteoric rise. It was a year and a half after our debut that we published our first Durham tagged article. Only four articles about Durham were published in 2007. Contrast that with each of the past two years where we have published more than 100 articles about Durham. We love Durham. We are proud of Durham. And we intend to continue to cover Durham.

We believe the press has an important function in free, civil society. Information is power. Distribution of information decentralizes power in a way that serves us all, provided we participate actively rather than absorb passively. We are proud to have broken stories from fracking deeds and Durham ABC misdeeds in these pages.

We have long taken a hardcore stance against advertising. But as we have ramped up our coverage, and ramped our coverage, we have heard time and again that we should reconsider. In the last year as we have approached the 10,000 hits a month level, we have started to listen. Our objection to advertising was always rooted in the anonymity. We don't want to adverse for companies or products that we do not know, that we do not feel comfortable with personally.

In an effort to find the compromise between the costs of doing this much coverage and the deleterious nature of advertising, we have decided to accept local ads on the new Clarion Content Wordpress site.2

Perhaps then accepting advertising on the Clarion Content is the biggest change, but there are a litany of other changes coming.

The Clarion Content started as a solo project. We have been incredibly lucky to add an excellent crew of people to our team over time. About a year and half ago, Cady Childs, of FashionablyTactless, came aboard and gave the Clarion Content, vim, verve, and a fashion sense we never had. Childs has been at the center of one of the Clarion Content's most successful projects, our Durham Fashion Drive-by's.

These Fashion Drive-by's were the brainchild of your editor, Ms. Childs, and one of the other core members of our team, the amazing photographer, Jessica Blakely aka Jessica Arden. We have been delighted to work with these talented folks. Their appearance on the scene began a transition that will become even more evident as the Clarion Content moves to Wordpress.

We refer to an emphasis on the visual. The original Clarion Content hardly featured a picture. Now one of the core members of our team is the brilliant, young director and writer, Ned Phillips. Phillips has written numerous extremely well-received articles for the Clarion Content. Phillips, the Clarion Content, and a nationally renowned team of filmmakers are in discussions about filming a series of Durham documentaries.3

The Clarion Content has been extremely grateful to have the contributions of these team members. Above and beyond that, we have been graced with efforts of many other outstanding contributors. Artist and community activist, Catherine Howard, has penned a slew of greatpieces. Superb photographer, Beth Mandel of BWPW Photography, has photographed innumerable subjects for the Clarion Content, from the arts to development to portraiture. Our North Jersey contingent has contributed pieces of great social importance. And scads of one-time contributors have put their thoughts out there.

This is a process and a formula that we want to nurture and expand. Our editorial philosophy is print as wide an array of thoughtful voices and opinions as we can find. Our goal is to be both a knowledge provider and a community connector. When we hear that magazines with the prestige of Newsweek are moving to an exclusive on-line distribution model, we are confident in our course.4

A central part of this drive is that your editor, yours truly, Aaron Mandel, wants to take a further step back from the role as primary author of this multimedia piece. We also want to move away from our mimicry of The Economist's "editorial we."

I have been tilling and maintaining the garden of the Clarion Content for more than six years, sometimes more fastidiously than others. The truth is, I think, "Gardens? Who has time for gardens??"

When I was a little kid, I used to nag my hard-working Pop to build us kids a garden. And he did. Found a way in his spare time.

When I was a little kid, I used to think gardens were perfectable, that they reached a finished state, where you were done. Now I perceive the fallacy of those delusions. But, as Dad knew intuitively, our imperfectability was not an excuse for not trying. He embedded the lesson. Thanks to entropy, life offers work, embrace it.

The key for me to best embrace the work life offers is to work on what I love. I believe this is true for many others, but I can only till the garden of my own mind. It feels to me, like the most important of all tasks. Artistotle's know thyself was not meant as a finished prescription, but rather as a first step for realizing one's fullest potential.

Now, I know the inevitable imperfectability of my mind and its precepts. I am both comforted and scared by it. I am succored by my belief that there is only one perfect in this universe of ours.5 I will effort my best. Moreover, I will put this effort into that which is most important to me.

This is not to say that the Clarion Content is not important to me. It is extremely important to me. But yours truly, must focus, first and foremost, on my fiction. Another thing under development, in this transition, is an Aaron Mandel fiction website.

I don't beat myself up for being imperfect. However, it does vex me greatly to struggle to find time to work on that which is most important to me. I am threatened by the reality of my own mortality. I know that like a garden, I will grow, ripen, wither, and die. I will not finish everything I want to read. I will know incomplete dreams. There will be journeys not taken. The measure for me will be did I put in the best, fullest, effort that I could.6

The Clarion Content's transition is rooted in this deep desire for more time to write fiction. We have been extremely fortunate to have the great contributors and collaborators we have had for these first six and a half years. We are so excited for the new voices that will be coming aboard as we make this transition.

As many of you know, the Clarion Content, in addition to publishing, is a multimedia consulting firm. We have had the pleasure to work with an amazing cast of movers, shakers, bon vivants, gurus, and intellectuals.7 In the next year, even more of those folks are coming to these pages.

We will be co-authoring a column with the amazing life coach Bonnie Cohen. We are promoting, covering, and imbibing, revolutionary thinker and serial entrepreneur, Carl Nordgren, aka the Creative Populist. We have had discussions with a panoply of terrific writers about their potential contributions to the Clarion Content.8 As we mentioned, we are working on a Durham documentary film project. We have brought on a fantastic dating advice columnist, who has an eye on the modern scene, having once held the same position for the highly regarded college paper, The Daily Tar Heel. We hope to bring on a coffee columnist. We intend to be an oral history collator for our beloved city of Durham.9

In an effort to embrace the multimedia ethic of the era, we are building a Clarion Content Pintrest, a Clarion ContentTumblr, and are in discussions with distributors about our video content. Of course, you know about our Facebook and Twitter. Like us and follow us as you please.

This is what's up. This is where we have been. This is where we intend to go.

As always, please tell us what you think, good and bad. Want to write, photograph, film or otherwise create great content for us? Please reach out to info at clarion content dot com (symbols and no spaces).

Want to find out more about our multimedia promotions, consulting, and management, pop over to the clarioncontent.com. Have a question? A suggestion? Again, please reach out to info at clarion content dot com.

Come along on the journey. It's gonna be a fly trip.


1And the reasonable cost of living, true then, still true now. Resist gentrification Durham!

2The Clarion Content has long had a donate here button connected our PayPal in an effort to solicit contributions in return for the free coverage. It has not been successful. If you wish to advertise on the new and improved Clarion Content, email us at info at clarioncontent dot com (symbols, no spaces,) for rates and additional information.

3Phillips just shot the Kickstarter video for Organic Transit's wildly successful $100,000 plus campaign.

4And note to self; we were ahead of the curve. Note to community, we were extremely fortunate to sit on the panel for the State of Publishing with a select group of Durham publishing leaders, this amazing forum helped imbue as with the confidence necessary to make these changes.

5Multiple universes totally allowed for, still believe perfection is a the singularity.

6We effort. We garden. I do so not in hopes of perfection, with love not desperation, hoping that I will be able to say on the way out I gave back more than I took. Lofty, but the truth.

7I would not be here writing this without the efforts of Javier Sandoval and Mark Coffman. 

8You know who you are! Please, please, please lend us and Durham your pen and your thoughts, we will all be the wiser for it.

9We hope to collaborate with as many top-notch Durham institutions as we can in this goal, including Open Durham and the Durham Art Guild.

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