We Need a Crew As Nuts As We Are

When I was a kid, I watched Ocean’s 11 approximately 600 times. At face value, it’s a simple story: a team tries to rob the Bellagio casino.

Maybe most heist films repeat plots, but this is the one that basic cable brought to my life, so it’s my gold standard.

I was really. into. this movie. I never got tired of picking apart how they did it. It was complex. Smart. Elegant. And the bouncy Cuban score is pure fun.

The recruiting scene is one of my favorites. Before Danny Ocean and Rusty Ryan set their plan into motion, they ask a wealthy friend and former casino owner, Reuben Tishkoff, to fund the heist. He basically says it’s too dangerous.

“That’s why we have to be very careful,” Ryan tells him. “Very precise.”

“Well funded,” Ocean adds.

“Yeah, you gotta be nuts, too,” Tishkoff says. “And you’re going to need a crew as nuts as you are.” There’s a pause. “Who do you got in mind?” 

Cue trumpets. Intro the crew.

People ask me how our New Territory team came together and where we’re headed. Here’s our story so far. If you feel inspired by it, sign up for our newsletter for more stories of our journey.

 

Part One: Naysayers and a Mark Twain impersonator.

Someday, when Hollywood makes a film about The New Territory, there’ll be a scene like Ocean’s 11.  The first man I approach for sponsorship will tell me print is dead. The professor who taught me magazine publishing will be sternly skeptical of the idea, but ultimately give me his blessing. I’ll call my best friend, who had recently returned from living in West Africa, and recruit her to be our creative director. I’ll meet with Sara at a Missouri Life party, where a Mark Twain impersonator wandered from table to table. Mark Twain is a good omen. Sara’s in. She’ll take care of the literature section. Bryce will endear himself to us as the self-titled “wacky intern,” later to become online editor, and Kate will hit the Oklahoma pavement hard and sign up half of our first stockists that we knew we’d be fools not to put her to work more, from newsletter curator to hype beast to pitch-hitting outpost editor. (All true stories, though this Hollywood version glosses over the dozens of other helpers along the way.)

Tina, Katie and Sara planning our first issue. Photo by Madeline Stanley.

Tina, Katie and Sara planning our first issue at Uprise in Columbia, Mo. Photo by Madeline Stanley.

Making a magazine isn’t a heist, but it is definitely nuts (“print is dead,” etc.).

That’s why we kept our team small and have been very careful about growth in our first two years.

When put out our first call for contributors, more people responded than we could handle. The New Territory needed time to figure out its voice, gather contributors, and feel out what our readers responded to. It was hard to know how to manage workers when we ourselves didn’t know exactly what work needed to be done. I felt like we could only afford to make small mistakes, both financially and with our human resources.

While I was grateful for all the people wanting to put time into our new project, I knew I didn’t have the time to manage them.

Now, we have a solid vision of what it will take to make a sustainable print publication in 2018 onward.

It’s going to be complex, smart and elegant.

It also requires more work than our current team can handle.

 

 

Part Two: Finding a crew as nuts as we are.

The seven people working regularly for The New Territory live in six different cities. Some of us have never met in person.

We work together online: Slack, email, video chat. Google Drive and Dropbox.

All of us work other jobs, and few of us even get paid.

We work weird hours and days and have done this consistently for two years because we believe in The New Territory’s potential as both a publication and a community.

To move forward, we would love to invite dedicated people to work (and play!) in roles including, but not exclusive to, the following:

  • Managing editor (this is a must)
  • Sponsoring partners (also a must)
  • Outpost editors to help with story development and other publishing roles
  • Event coordinator and/or workshop leaders
  • Street teams for hanging fliers, tabling at events, generally hyping the mag with local communities
  • Podcasters
  • Artists in residence

We started The New Territory so our region could have a platform for writers, photographers, artists, thinkers and leaders to collaborate, share solutions, and write this “autobiography of the Lower Midwest” we’re always talking about.

If you’re looking for an experience along these lines, let me know. If you have another idea for a project and want to see if it would fit with our vision, also let me know. My contact info is at the bottom of this post.

 

Part Three: That elephant in the room.

Like Danny Ocean said, we need to be well funded. We need to get creative about making the magazine financially sustainable, because bootstrapping isn’t quite cutting it. Other forms of income will help us stabilize the publication calendar and become more consistent about events and partnerships. We hope expansion will generate revenue and free up our editorial time to focus on sponsorship. But where to start? Is it going to be a chicken and egg situation? Will really dedicated people volunteer until we crack the sustainability code? Will we find a wealthy casino owner?

Whatever happens, it’s going to be nuts.

If you want to follow along with the making of The New Territory, please sign up for our newsletter and send me your questions! I’ll be excited to hear from you.

 

Tina Casagrand
Tina Casagrand
Tina Casagrand is the publisher of The New Territory magazine, a student of the indie print magazine business, and 8th generation Missourian hell-bent on finding and sharing new possibilities for meaningful life in the Midwest. You can email her at tina[at]newterritorymag.com or tweet to @gasconader.

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