From The Editors: Issue One
August 01, 2018
Jennifer Gurecki, Editor in Chief
It’s not every day that you receive a cease and desist from the Girl Scouts of America. In launching a print magazine, we anticipated bumping up against a handful of challenges. A lawsuit wasn’t one of them. You see, Sisu Magazine’s first name was actually “Scout,” and within weeks of filing the trademark, the Girl Scouts of America sent us a letter demanding that we abandon the name. They said the public would confuse our publication with their Brownie Handbook—obviously. I don’t like to fight with little girls, nor do I have any time to waste, so it was back to the drawing board to find a new name for our magazine.
One anxiety-riddled late night in Colorado, I came across an article about non-English words to describe the outdoors. As I scrolled down the page, I came across “sisu,” a Finnish term that embodies the spirit of grit, guts, and perseverance. I spent the next hour exploring that rabbit hole, learning about the origins of this word, jaw-dropped and awestruck about how much it encapsulated not only the experience of launching this magazine but our entire existence in the outdoors.
Reading through the stories on these pages, I am reminded of my journey in the outdoors. I was told I was only qualified to sell women’s clothing at a ski shop in Lake Tahoe. I gasped for air in a sea of dude soup at industry events. I watched friends and peers, who fall outside of the whiteness and gender constructs, exist in the margins. The more years you spend on this planet, the more you realize that for all of the gains we have made, we’ve got so far to go. It’s like looking in the rear view mirror—what’s behind us is actually closer than it appears. Despite this unfortunate reality, we persevere with an unwavering courage, moving beyond the barriers created by others, by harnessing a fire that burns deep inside.
Sisu Magazine embodies this experience. This fist issue is a timestamp, encapsulating the tenor of our society in the fall of 2018. The majority of the articles and columns you will read in the first issue of Sisu Magazine were written during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. You’ll notice from the tone of the pieces that it took every ounce of restraint on behalf of our contributors to not run into the streets and scream. While I could have asked everyone to lighten up to make for an easier read, I was compelled to leave the pieces as is. This is a reminder of what it felt like to be erased, an act of rebellion to demonstrate that we will not be silenced. We will not be agnostic to the serious social, political, and environmental issues that we face. To remain silent is to be complicit. At Sisu Magazine, we will strive to uncover the untold stories of the outdoors, even if those stories make people uncomfortable.
Are we going to make mistakes and piss people off? It’s highly likely. But we want you to know that we’re coming from a place of transparency and a burning desire to tell the stories that don’t get told enough. We want to make this world a more inclusive and equitable space. We want to celebrate our love of the outdoors. We’re excited to be on this journey with you and we can’t wait to hear what you think about the ride.
Welcome to Sisu Magazine.
From Lauren Bello Okerman, Creative Director
Making art is more than simple mark making. Art is the miraculous product of the treaty between eye, brain, and hand, made up of brilliant ashes. It is conscious, unconscious, and occasionally accidental. All of these ashes, ideas, and thoughts, expressed together and over time, produce a lens through which we perceive the world, and through which we express ourselves back into it. This lens focuses our passions, our priorities, our past, and our future, and allows us to make our mark, a mark like no one else makes, as unique as a fingerprint. This becomes art, art bearing the imprint of a lifetime of perspective, carrying with it the secret, surreptitious message of another human, meant to delight or distract, provoke or inspire, or maybe none of those. What moves us to make and make marks, also moves others, perhaps to make their own marks. And before long, we are all making, making marks, all different from one another, making art.
The universal art, of course, is storytelling. Telling stories is the way we have passed on the secrets of survival, existence, joy, loss, war, and triumph since human time began. It’s the ultimate collection of our human “marks,” but it’s an invisible one, requiring humans to be close enough to hear one another’s voice. Sisu Magazine is rooted in sharing our unique marks, our stories, through writing and art. Our collective voice has inspired the first marks of this issue, as you will see in the following pages.
The mouth is a symbol of our voice, which I define as our power to communicate. The mouth is the gateway for our breath, our life force we share with each inhale and exhale. For this inaugural issue of Sisu Magazine, my inspiration came from this symbol of voice. An open mouth: loudness, spilling forth, opinions, truth, presence. A closed mouth: patience, stoicism, permanence. The art you’ll see in these pages is a collection of my marks, showing the power of voice and its presence in our outdoors, our outside home, where we recreate, meditate, and congregate.
Through these marks, I share my voice with you. I look forward to hearing yours.