- From the Editor
This 31st issue of Bridges celebrates 21 years of publishing Jewish feminist thought and creativity. This may well be Bridges last issue, though we haven't ruled out returning after a hiatus. I thought long and hard about what would be a fitting 20th anniversary issue theme or structure (so long, in fact, it had to become a "21st" anniversary issue).
This collection of conversations between past contributors to Bridges evolved from several ideas, most of them born in my morning shower when possibility trumps nitty gritty. One idea was to do an issue focusing on feminist writer and artist mentoring relationships; another was soliciting nominations for a "best of Bridges" compilation. I spent last summer collecting email addresses for past Bridges contributors (founded in 1990, Bridges predates email by a few years). Finally, in the late fall I was ready to write to the 500 or so names I had put together with this proposal: "I'd like to publish conversations between Bridges contributors. If you want to participate, either find yourself a conversation partner from among past contributors, or I'll match you [End Page 1] with someone. Send me a finished conversation of between 2000-3000 words, within two months. You choose the topic."
Almost immediately my inbox was flooded with "count me in's." I've never had such a positive response to any solicitation. I'm still trying to decipher the meaning.
I asked everyone participating in these conversations to find a focus from "something they are currently working on, thinking about, or think is important." For me, at least one of these topics had to be the future of Bridges itself, but I didn't really want to have that conversation. Even though I'd been thinking about this for quite some time, I don't really know what I want the future of Bridges to be. This is our 21st year of publishing, and the end of a five-year publishing contract with Indiana University Press. The options seem to be: Go independent again; find another institutional publisher; stop publishing; try new formats; redefine our mission and re-look at the above options.
I remember in 1988 when Elly Bulkin, Adrienne Rich, and Ruth Atkin—all of whom had experience in writing and publishing—suggested that the Feminist Task Force of New Jewish Agenda expand our newsletter into a nationally distributed, multi-genre, perfect-bound journal. I was dubious: would we have enough material to publish regularly? My own experience with several years of working on the lesbian-feminist newsletter Moonstorm and putting together the Task Force's newsletter was that getting material was always challenging. But Elly, Adrienne and Ruth had had other experiences: they found if you create an outlet for women's creativity, the work will pour in. They were right. In over twenty years of publishing, finding money and time to edit has been much more of a challenge than finding work to publish.
But now I'm in the dubious place again: with all the new outlets and formats, is there still a place for Bridges? If so, what is it?
I wrote all this to tova, Bridges contributor, editor and my longtime friend, and she wrote back:
tova: Some of what's interesting to me though is that right before you say you're dubious, you write "if there's an outlet for women's creativity then the work will pour in." Bridges struggles with a variety of financial and logistical issues, but the work keeps pouring in. When you asked for these conversations, Clare, you got a really big response. That says to me that Jewish women and our friends still are excited about, maybe even crave, a place for their voices to be heard. Still, so many things have changed in the world of publishing and communication.
Now there are so many other questions—should Bridges just be online and what would that mean? Could it be a blog? If it's online and free access how will it make money for a staff person or persons to manage and edit it? If it's only...