Any Good News? Yep… in Ode Magazine

ode magazien cover march 2009I’ve gotten a little leery about product posts lately (“seen on TV” products notwithstanding). Ultimately, with the number of new “green” products out there, such posts could easily become the sole focus of our work here… and I don’t think that’s the kind of content sustainablog readers want or expect. But, I do make exceptions, and was happy to do just that when Ecopreneurist‘s Paul Smith approached me about writing a post on Ode magazine.

Why make an exception for Ode? It’s quickly become my favorite magazine… the first (and, so far, only) one I’ve subscribed to on Zinio. Ode‘s not only focused on issues that matter to me — social, environmental, and economic change — but also on stories about people making a difference in these areas.

In short, there’s a lot of good news in Ode… and, more and more, we need that.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not turning into a pollyanna in my old(er) age. I do think, though, that we in the green media often fall into the trap of negativity. We’ve got to be honest about the challenges that we face, but if we only report on “doom and gloom” scenarios, we run the risk of spreading the idea that nothing can be done to address issues like climate change, water shortages, and biodiversity loss. We should be working to empower people… and sharing stories of individuals and groups confronting these challenges demonstrates that there are positive actions we can take that make a difference.

So, when I look at the most recent issue, I find article on “blue energy” research, social entrepreneurship in the midst of the economic crisis, and a profile of futurist Peter Russell and his call for “communal creativity” in response to global crises. Other recent articles have covered supply chain transparency, efforts to put foreclosed homes and buildings to good use, and a green homeless shelter.

The magazine’s companion website publishes much of the print edition’s content, but also places a strong focus on user-generated content. In the “Exchange” section, users can contribute short articles that contribute to Ode’s focus on “people, passion and possibilities.” Recent offerings include a piece on Oakland’s Vida Verde organization, the “social reality game” Akoha, and franchise opportunities with the “g” Green Design Center.

This post probably reads like an advertorial.  It’s not, at least in the sense that no one paid for a profile of Ode. Rather, I’m just so impressed with the work they do that I jumped at the chance to write a short profile. If you interested in checking out the magazine, you can check them out via Zinio (for paper-free reading), or take advantage of a special subscription offer: for $19.95, you’ll get a year of the magazine, a tree planted in your name, and a Thich Nhat Hanh meditation CD. It’s worth a look…

  1. Paul Smith

    I think you hit it on the nail when you said, “We should be working to empower people… and sharing stories of individuals and groups confronting these challenges demonstrates that there are positive actions we can take that make a difference.”

    It’s so easy to be cynical, focus on what’s not working, and how bad it could get. All valid things to consider, but when all you see is that, that’s what’s most likely to happen. Having a balanced, open mind for what’s possible to do about the issues you see around you is a great way to address what’s happening.

  2. Deron Triff


    Agreed! What makes Ode powerful is their editorial voice turns up the amp on fresh, out-of-the-box individuals (rather than traditional institutions) who are the catalysts for social & environmental change.

    American Express concluded last year (through their Member’s Project initiative) that 87 percent of 18-to-39 year-olds believe that one person can help change the world. While I have no allegiance to American Express (and am not even a card holder), like Ode they zoned in on the power of charismatic, incredibly cool people who are working outside the (often bureaucratic) structure of non-profits to accelerate change by using media and technology to build their own movements. Scott Harrison of Charity Water, Brad Corrigan of Love, Light & Melody, Chad Pregracke of Living Land & Waters, Elizabeth Redmond of Powerleap, are all great examples of individual change agents blazing trails where large organizations have never gone before. Best yet, their cool, entertaining and have a great story to tell & follow.

    We’re seeing this happen in the media industry too: Oprah’s Big Give; CNN Heroes; Sundance’s Ecoists (Sundance) GOOD Magazine’s Portraits; Fast Company’s Social Capitalist Awards; Newsweek’s Giving Back Awards, etc.

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