by Kezia Rice
'to reflect on 2020 is at once both an impossible and effortless task'
In 2019, I was an intern at a theatre company which planned a bi-annual theatre festival. 2020’s festival was still a year away but already we had begun discussing concepts and ideas. They told me that the rough theme for 2020’s festival was ‘The End of the World’. I’ll let the irony of this sink in.
This memory played on my mind so often when the apocalyptic nature of 2020 became clear. I think the combination of ‘theatre’ and ‘festival’ with ‘end of the world’ demonstrate exactly how naive and innocent we were in 2019, not realising to what extent fate was being tempted or how easily our lives could become completely unrecognisable.
To reflect on 2020 is at once both an impossible and effortless task. It’s not at all difficult to remember how the year panned out or what the big moments were (especially for someone like me with time-space synesthesia i.e. a literal calendar in my mind), but apart from the obvious major event, the year was also full of more subtle crises. For one, unemployment, and consequently food bank usage, increased dramatically throughout the pandemic. Trussell Trust food banks gave out 1.2 million foodbank parcels between April and September this year, with the month of April seeing an 89% increase in individuals using food banks compared to the same four weeks in 2019. The government’s lack of concern for children whose parents cannot afford to feed them was made apparent by their initial decision to cancel free school meal vouchers for the summer holidays. The increasing austerity in which so many in our country live is a problem our government is failing to solve; whilst they continue to allow people to go hungry, what can the third sector do but step in to feed people? This paradox is explored by Sirin Kale in her Guardian article Half-term, hardship and heartbreak: one month in the life of a food-bank manager; whilst this crisis must be addressed by government and policy change, on a local level, we can all put a few extra items for our food banks in our weekly shop and make a small impact.
June reorientated us around the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd and from the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol to readdressing our curricumuls at school, calls for a greater education of Britain’s colonial past became widespread. One of our own fantastic imprint writer’s Audrey wrote about The Battle of Atrophy in the Race Against Racism and inspired us to be more accountable when it came to sharing diverse stories. Early in the new year we’ll be collating some of the very best anti-racist resources that our wonderful readers have found especially therapeutic, challenging or helpful, and on that note I’ll just leave my own personal recommendation for gal-dem here (a brilliant publication showcasing the work of women of colour), which is on my bookmarked tabs every weekend.
'so many of us are left feeling emotionally exhausted by these imminent threats; I know I myself often feel distanced from the pressing and urgent nature of the climate crisis'
When it comes to imprint, and our efforts to spread a message of living more sustainably, it has also been impossible to ignore the increasingly urgent nature of the climate crisis in 2020. This year was one of the hottest on record, the US president Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement and a global pandemic was just one of many eco-disasters we continue to try and combat. However, so many of us are left feeling emotionally exhausted by these imminent threats; I know I myself often feel distanced from the pressing and urgent nature of the climate crisis. Another of imprint's writer's Kirsty wrote about the psychology behind this feeling in her article The Invisible Enemy: Why we need to understand the climate crisis as immediate and personal , which helped me re-energise my own thoughts and efforts around climate action. Dip in before the new year and start 2021 off in the right frame of mind!
Even more personally, for all it’s strangeness and loss, 2020 has also been a time in which I was able to rebuild a creativity and ambition I had long felt lost. I travelled alone, moved cities alone, and started imprint with no big plans for how it would grow. I had no distinct knowledge or experience of journalism other than my love for writing and editing, but 6 months on, here we are: 12 team members, hundreds of regular readers and so many positive changes along the way (most notably for me - that my ability to take risks has increased ten-fold).
'the idea was simply there, in my mind, after reading journalism for so long and somehow feeling unfulfilled by the content many magazines published'
I also wanted to write in this letter a little bit about how imprint came to be. I wish I could explain how I developed the idea and concept, but there was no formal process - the idea was simply there, in my mind, after reading journalism for so long and somehow feeling unfulfilled by the content many magazines published. What I remember more clearly are those first discussions over Zoom with Ellie, who designed the website, her making my vision come alive with nothing more than my hastily sketched pencil drawings. I remember meeting Izzy on her doorstep as we sat 2 metres apart and tried to come up with punchy magazine names. I remember the edits and efforts poured into those first three precious articles. I remember sitting on my front step on a Sunday morning and chatting to my neighbours as I wrote the weekly newsletter.
In an act of serendipity, this is in fact the 50th article that imprint has published since our very first on 26th June. I thought it would be only right to reflect upon some of my favourites, however impossible it is to choose. Kate Balding’s From a Suffolk Green felt like the perfect piece to begin imprint with. Jess Broadbent’s wonderfully narrative writing never fails to engage me, and Esther Bancroft’s searing intelligence comes through in every line she writes. We have also published some brilliant creative pieces too, with Sophie’s I am full of leaves and Nancy’s Letting our Edges Leak being particular favourites. One of our most popular articles has to be Abi Larner’s incredible Guide to Greener Sex, which educates and entertains in equal measures (look out for part 2, coming 2021) and in the last week before the big day, Anna’s A Very Sustainable Christmas is exactly the sort of Christmas content I love to read - heartwarming and inspiring lifestyle at its best.
There are so many more incredible articles we published, that it would be impossible to name them all, but I can reflect on what it’s been like to write myself for imprint and shed extra light on how fantastic and brave our contributors have been. I don’t like being vulnerable, even with the people closest to me, and yet an element of vulnerability often makes for the best writing. I feel so distanced from the pieces I’ve written that when people react to them, I feel unable to associate myself with the emotions in the work, only the work itself. But thank you to everyone who reached out and said that they found open letter to my friends asking them to hug me and Bad Girlfriend Material moving - it means a lot.
Special thanks also has to go to each and every member of the imprint team, both old and new (so many new members! 2021 - watch out, we’re coming for you). To Ellie, who built the website before transitioning into her graduate job for the department of health, thank you for encouraging and believing in me from the very start. To Sophie, whose poetry stops my heart in my chest every time I read it, thank you for bringing your incredible wordsmith ways to every part of this project. To Anna D, thank you for bringing such lovely energy and enthusiasm to imprint and always putting a smile on my face with your Facebook posts. To Anna G, thank you for putting an insane amount of effort in every week and making sure our articles went live - imprint literally wouldn’t exist without you! To Kate, thank you for your lovely initial email telling me you were so excited about imprint that you’d written a whole article rather than a pitch, and for everything that came after that - you are the best ideas person, get-shit-done person, right-hand-woman I could ask for, and a voice note to you always helps me figure out any kind of problem! To all the new imprint team members who are beginning to make their marks upon this project, thank you for giving me your time and skills to make imprint what it is. I’m excited to see what we’ll create next year. And to Izzy, who helped me to develop imprint from the very start, and has been by my side for the last 18 years, thank you for every voice note, every doorstep chat, every river swim, walk or picnic that turned into an impromptu imprint meeting. I can only hope I’ve been there for you as much as you’ve been there for me.
A final thank you goes, of course, to you reading this. Journalism is a two way process, and articles without readers would not make for a very successful online magazine. To everyone who has read or shared one of our articles, to everyone who has signed up for our newsletter (still, hands down, one of my favourite parts of imprint), to everyone who has become an imprint patron, I am so so thankful. I hope that the content we publish fulfils you and inspires you. I hope that your weekends are brightened and energised by our articles. I hope that they are a call to action.
Kezia Rice is the Founder and Editor-in-chief of imprint mag.zine. She has previously written for imprint about everything from living without a car to the problematics of Love Island to her passion for charity shopping and her sewing experiments (part one and two). Also find her creative pieces here: open letter to my friends asking them to hug me and Bad Girlfriend Material.