The Prism is starting its 8th year with this issue. Here, a few of our volunteers share what the paper has meant to them... Mia Kirsh
The Prism newspaper and my daughter have grown up together. In fact The Prism started publishing just before she was born. I remember working at a light table as the first production coordinator, pasting up the issue with a huge belly in my way. The only issue I have not worked on was in October 1990 when Becky was born and I was in the hospital. Now she is 6 1/2 and The Prism is 7.
I think we have all grown over the years along with the newspaper, learning from each other and from the community. We have stubbornly stuck to most of the principles that were hashed out before the "birth" of the paper and they have served us well. The principle of being an all-volunteer newspaper has been perhaps the most important. We've come close to changing that when things have looked grim, and it seemed we'd have to hire someone or fold. But always, enough new volunteers have come along to pitch in and keep the paper going.
Another principle that we've struggled with is to have collective decision-making. This has not always been perfect, but as I look around at other groups or publications, I am proud of how we've been able to make ours work. We really have tried hard not to allow any one person call all the shots, but rather include anyone working with us in decisions for the paper. I really value the wisdom that often comes from such a process.
One final thought on turning 7. I have noticed that the "presence" of The Prism has grown in the community. We used to marvel that maybe 5 or 10 people had actually picked it up and read it. Now, we get feedback indicating that the paper is being read all over the Triangle and we have several out-of-state supporters as well. The Prism has also been an inspiration to other alternative publications trying to start in our region. In a time when most 'zines don't last more than a few months, The Prism's staying power indicates the paper has indeed filled a need in our community. We will continue doing so as long as we possibly. can. - Mia Kirsh
The Prism: something to "occupy my time" since my son was going to college. Oh, how true that has been! Long nights, long phone calls, traveling around, working with others at strange places and strange times... all in hope of getting out a paper that informs, excites, inspires. Learning to do page layout, cutting and pasting, haggling, and wearing out Kinko's people. Watching others come and go, hanging in there. Finding the shortcuts that will save the paper time and money.
Trying to make it better, more attractive, more widely read, more relevant. Five-plus years later, I don't think we're there yet, but we're still trying. - Dick Paddock, Production
So The Prism passes the 7-year mark, and I've been involved for about three. Why?
People struggling for social change speak about the importance of truth, and of a free and democratic media. Well, in my view, grassroots groups like this are our only hope for that.
Sometimes you need to build on efforts which already exist. In many ways it's much easier for a person or group to found their 'own' paper, show, etc. But while sometimes that's what's needed, I don't think that approach teaches the lessons we need to learn.
This struggle for democracy is not about 'easy.' It's about the slow, irritating effort to build the kinds of organizations which survive & grow after you leave it. That's how decent, and deep, social change occurs.
I've seen a group of good people at The Prism patiently trudge on, still committed, still believing, spending long hours working on an effort for which they receive very little appreciation.
I've also seen launches of 'new' groups, magazines, parties, coalitions Too many have been like nova, which briefly flare and light up the galaxy nearby, but which soon cool back down to a dim and cold state.
People who believe in that goal of democracy should help us continue-and to change as well. There's an exciting potential here, and I hope others recognize it. -Jeff Saviano
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