Editor’s Letter from Issue 05: Brave New Worlds

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This land holds infinite worlds. Space, time, and human meddling complicates every patch of the Midwestern terrain, and so we dive in to catch as many stories as we can. Through eyes of water protectors, explorers and entertainers, one author wades through “muddy logic” on the Missouri River (pg 37). In Oklahoma, former slaves built towns to get free from government oppression (pg 48), and in Iowa, seekers settled Loess Hills to live closer to God (pg 77).

Why tell these stories? Because they tie us to our history of hard work and higher purpose. Because sometimes it’s too simple to feel satisfied, and sometimes today’s lifestyle feels like it’s headed toward a dystopian Brave New World.

In Aldous Huxley’s novel, productivity is society’s prized virtue. Instead of science and technology serving what humans need, humans adapt biology to serve a utopia — as in, babies’ genetics get tweaked to produce the best pilots, typists, and so on. Workers master their singular tasks, but spurn risk, romance, and raw feelings. Every person serves one assembly line toward a singular, functional future.

But that’s fiction. I have met so many people, Midwesterners in particular, who are moving in the opposite direction. Today’s era of world-building combines tradition with technology that serves our humanity, rather than the other way around. In this issue, you’ll meet millennials reviving outdoor economies (pg 95), D.I.Y. leaders who create and disperse communities all in a night (pg 18), everyday-people-turned-creative-benefactors (pg 13), and organic farmers who cultivate good food, healthy land and more joy in life (pg 23).

If this letter bleeds with love for movements and the people who support them, it’s because The New Territory has wrapped up our most formative issue to date. You, other readers, our editors and contributors share a vision of making the Midwest the best version of home it can be. This devotion has sustained us through several hard, uncertain months. And behind the scenes, we have been building skills, growing our team, and rebuilding sections to make room for as many worlds as these pages — and this region — will hold. You’re holding the result, our strongest book yet. I hope it inspires your own brave endeavors.

Subscribe to The New Territory, Purchase Issue 05 here, or pre-order issue 08 here.

Tina Casagrand, Publisher of The New Territory Magazine

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