A brief (non-exhaustive) history of Geez

All illustrations from Geez magazine Credit: Darryl Brown

{Founding Founders}
2003 Fall Vancouver, B.C. Karen Schlichting, first utters “Geez” as a possible name for the magazine. Aiden Enns, her life partner, thought it could be “Cripes.”

2004 March Winnipeg, Manitoba. K and A have moved back. Will Braun, environmental activist, writer, and fellow Mennonite, gets involved, thus doubling the founders.

2004 June Newberg, Oregon. Designer Darryl Brown sends his portfolio by mail to Winnipeg. He is eagerly recruited; designs several test covers.

{local colour; human interest; behind-the-scenes angst}
2005 January Will Braun becomes co-editor, co-publisher, but is concerned the name won’t work for his contemplative friends. But hey, tension is a good thing.

{FF; I guess it takes three men to start a magazine; Coastal-prairie partnership; The people volunteering behind the scenes are too many to count, but check out pages 78-79.}
2005 February Vancouver, B.C., Darryl and Aiden meet in person; discuss format; agree to work together – now there is a team of three principals. A two-location production method begins.

{Conference and campaigns; Joining other people under the big umbrella}
2005 July Winnipeg to Berkeley, California. Karen and Aiden travel to join the inaugural meeting of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. Aiden joins a panel discussion next to editors of Sojourners and Tikkun (evangelical Christian and Jewish magazines, respectively).

{Local colour; Human interest; Spelling mistakes}
2005 December Winnipeg, Manitoba. Launch party: the ice sculpture melts by accident the night before; hastily, it is redone with a block of ice the size of a coffee table chiselled out to spell the name of the magazine in block letters. Somehow the “z” comes out as a “k.” Seriously. The event is a grand success. Circulation at beginning of launch: 485; at the end: 500.

{Public affirmation; Circulation}
2006 March Will and Aiden are guests with Mary Hynes on CBC’s national radio program Tapestry. Circulation up another 100, now 1,000.

{Conferences and campaigns; Under the big umbrella; Peaceniks}
2006 October Winnipeg, Manitoba. Geez leaflets outside Franklin Graham evangelical festival to decry his crass militarism, makes papers and TV news.

{Circulation; The struggle is real}
2006 December Paid subscriptions peak at 2,000. Then begin to decline. “Welcome to the renewal business,” says Penni Mitchell, editor of Herizons, Canada’s first feminist magazine.

{Nuts and bolts; Guess what gender the office manager was, to be honest all the staff contribute to the creative side of _Geez}_
2006 Winter First paid position not on the creative side is created: office manager, to tend to subscriptions and help with renewal strategies.

{Coastal-prairie partnership}
2007 Summer Darryl travels from Oregon to join the Winnipeg crew for work on issue six; skateboards in local park on his breaks.

{Public affirmation; Circulation}
2007 Named “Magazine of the Year” by Canada’s Western Magazine Awards. Circulation remains the same.

{Nuts and bolts; Charitable status; Money}
2007 December To better court donors, begin the road to charity status by incorporating as a non-profit business; new board of directors; official papers arrive. Budget for paid labour: $7,919. Two spouses are listed in the masthead under “Bread and Butter.”

{Local colour; Human interest; True love}
2008 June Inter-state romance sparked when Lotus Dunn finds Geez in a Georgia recycle bin, contacts Oregon designer Darryl Brown. Now they’re hitched.

{Nuts and bolts}
2008 November Winnipeg, Manitoba. Move Geez office from a room in Aiden and Karen’s house to half of the old choir-rehearsal space in downtown Winnipeg’s community-engaged Knox United Church. Drinking spirits during late night sessions now needs to be in opaque mugs.

{Public affirmation; Money; Equality}
2009 Named “Best Spiritual Coverage” by Utne Reader’s independent media awards. Formalized the decision to function with a flat payscale with the same rate of pay for all, regardless of responsibilities or creative decision-making. Current staff labour budget: $32,195.

{Shifting face of _Geez}_
2009 September Editor Will Braun departs, eventually moves to a farm. Concentrated effort to recruit more women to the paid labour and creative side of Geez.

{Social media; Kicking and screaming}
2009 October Open a Twitter account, to keep a conversation going with readers. Half a year later start a Facebook account.

{Local colour; Falling masonry}
2010 May 28 Lightning strikes the church in which Geez has its office. A two-tonne chunk of limestone from one of the spires falls on the road, misses a parked car. Editors don’t know if it’s a sign. Was it because they joined Facebook?

{Charitable status}
2010 Send in application for charitable status with Canadian government; it is returned, deemed incomplete.

{Public affirmation; Circulation}
2011 February CBC Sunday Edition radio host Michael Enright interviews Aiden for 10 minutes. Spike of about 200 new subscriptions.

{Public affirmation; Circulation}
2011 April Top award from the Associated Church Press (U.S.A.) in category “Special Interest Magazine.” No effect on subscriptions.

{Conferences and campaigns; Under the big umbrella}
2011 June Shakori Hills, North Carolina. Geez attends the first progressive-evangelical Wild Goose Festival; returns the following three summers with increasing involvement.

{Changing face of _Geez; A woman in a regular paid position breaks into to the top ranks of the masthead, still a flat payscale though.}_
2011 July Winnipeg, Manitoba. Melanie Dennis Unrau is hired first as the new associate publisher, then as editor.

{Conferences and campaigns; Under the big umbrella}
2012 April Winnipeg, Manitoba. Geez helps organize a public tent revival meeting on Earth Day calling for a “consumption sabbath.”

{Charitable status}
2013 Three years after initial application was returned, charitable status application nearly complete.

{Coastal-prairie partnership}
2013 July Darryl returns to Winnipeg to design issue 31 with the rest of the team. Takes train from Oregon to honour the Geez goal to avoid flying. Skateboard stays home; he borrows local bike to ride. Melanie transitions to poetry editor, starts a PhD.

{Public affirmation; Circulation; Social media has a point}
2013 October Radical Christian author and pastor Nadia Bolz- Weber writes on her Facebook page, “Commence subscribing.” Spike of about 100 new subscriptions.

{Changing face of _Geez; Evolution; Sticking to our principles}_
2014 Summer New tagline, “contemplative cultural resistance,” and reassertion of commitment to being primarily print. Facebook and Twitter accounts remain activated, however. Cover stock now also 100 percent post-consumer waste paper.

{Under the big umbrella; Money; FF meets his hero}
2014 November Geez editor is invited to New York to present at a conference to curb techno-intensity. Aiden visits Reverend Billy and The Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir during rehearsal. Current staff labour budget: $47,250.

{Money; The struggle is real; Nuts and bolts}
2015 January Can’t afford five part-time workers; keep all workers, cut salaries by 42 percent for 12 months. Current staff labour budget: $30,165.

{Public affirmation; Production values remain consistent}
2015 May Top awards from Associated Church Press (U.S.A.) for photography and best single issue art and design. Canadian Church Press top award for general excellence, photography and single issue design.

{Under the big umbrella; The people are thirsty}
2015 Summer Successful crowdfunding campaign for 16- page, colour children’s story book, Anna, Kacie, and the Coyotes.

{Under the big umbrella, Conference and campaigns, Everything is connected}
2015 October Minneapolis, Minnesota. Geez is a media sponsor for a weekend workshop on watershed discipleship with Ched Myers and Tevyn East at the Church of All Nations.

{Circulation; The work we are doing is necessary}
2015 Fall Issue 39 on decolonization is sold out within weeks of printing 2,300. Reprint 400 copies, distribute study guide, sell more bulk orders.

{Where we’re at; World still requires change for the better; _Geez still plans to encourage them along the way}_
2015 December Winnipeg, Manitoba. Launch party for 40th issue and 10th anniversary. No ice sculpture planned. Current office team: Darryl Brown (2005- ), Aiden Enns (2005- ), Elisabeth Franz-Warkentin (2012- ), Tim Runtz (2013- ), Kyla Neufeld (2014- ).

Issue 40

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 40, Winter 2015, Tenth Anniversary Issue.

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