Wonderground Journal: Infrequently Asked Questions

Wonderground Issue One pre-orders are now open! This is very exciting for me. As usual, I want to write a big rambling essay about what and why and how but you probably just want to know the basics. And so, I thought I’d make a sort-of frequently asked questions page, except that no one has asked the questions yet. I’m asking them for you. Which is weird and quite fun.

Wonderground infrequently asked questions:

Um, it seems a bit mad to launch a new print publication in 2020. Didn’t you read the news about the mass closures at magazines across Australia earlier this year? Why print, why now?

It may sound strange to say this, but I have a very strong sense that this time of upheaval and change is a great time to take risks. For me, it comes down to a simple question: what do I choose to do with my time, when contrivances are stripped away, when the realness of life shows itself? Do I sit with complacency or do I hurl myself towards action?

Over the past years I’ve become increasingly, gut-wrenchingly, concerned about the vitality of Earth’s natural systems. I am terrified. I don’t think it’s possible to bear witness to our world and not feel fear. But I can’t stay in this place. If I have the privilege of being in a position to jump into projects that feel worthy and important, then I have a responsibility to take that leap; to move from the paralysis of fear to the energy of action.

There are many ways of being an activist, and storytelling is mine. The Planthunter is an important digital space dedicated to seeding stories about plants, people and the other-than-human world, and Wonderground will push this vision further as a print publication.

I realise I haven’t entirely answered the question about the reasons behind making a print publication. Here goes:

Print, because the stories published in Wonderground are written not to be skimmed over quickly between checking emails, but to be read and savoured.

Print, because not all information should be mediated by a screen.

Print, because important ideas should be held as well as felt.

Traditional publishing models are broken, like many ways of doing business are broken. I am interested in growing a publishing model that is viable – not just financially, but morally, environmentally, socially. It’s a risk, yes. But what else should I be doing right now?

I am scared. But as a wise man told me recently, all projects should be approximately 75% love and 25% fear. This sounds about right. Love and fear. Go!

Speaking of love and fear, here’s a video, made by my brother Will Reid, featuring me talking about Wonderground.

$35 AUD is fairly steep for a periodical. Can you explain the pricing?

You’re right. Wonderground is not cheap. Nor should it be. I am trying to create a publishing model that works on a number of levels, not just economic. This means paying contributors, it means using 100% recycled paper, it means printing locally, it means growing community and operating from a place of care, connection and respect.

When I spoke with the printer about using 100% recycled paper, she was very surprised. “No one does this,” she said. She had no samples of publications printed on recycled paper to show me. Nothing. Because why pay more when you don’t have to? There are, of course, many examples of how problematic this approach is.

I could charge significantly less for the publication by using paper from virgin forests. But what would this say about my values – choosing destruction to make a journal about cultivation cost less than it should? It doesn’t add up.

Wonderground costs what it does, not because I’m planning on huge profits (trust me, no one goes into publishing with dollar signs in their eyes) but because it costs that much to make a small-run publication with values. That’s that.

What’s in it?

Featuring a range of voices, views and ideas, the inaugural issue of Wonderground – titled Arise and Shine – focuses on questions of transformation. Change is both constant and challenging, scary and stimulating and it feels fitting to start a new print journal, and a new year, exploring this topic.

Issue One contributors include: Cultural anthropologist Natasha Myers, garden designer Dan Pearson, award-winning author Holly Ringland, poet Jacklyn Suskin, writer Freya Latona, landscape architect David Godshall, author and farmer Bruce Pascoe, landscape architect, architect and writer Thomas Doxiades, writer Neha Kale, writer and landscape architect Felix de Rosen, poet Rachael Mead, writer Zena Cumpston, landscape architect Thomas Woltz, photographer Daniel Shipp and farmers Charlie and Tanya Massy.

Is it a journal or a magazine?

A journal. What’s the difference, you ask? Well, Wonderground is primarily about words and ideas. There are gorgeous photographs, of course, but they’re used to augment a piece of writing, not as the main course. Wonderground is created to be read and re-read, not flicked through once and shuffled into a shelf.

Why should I pre-order Wondergound?

Pre-orders are really important for a fledgling independent publication as they allow funding of some of the production costs of the publication. They also help gauge the size of the print run – so I am not over or underestimating print quantities.

If you are inclined to pre-order Wonderground, I’ll be chuffed.

When will Issue One be released?

Issue 01 will drop on 1 March, 2021. All pre-orders will be posted directly from the printers.

The journal will then be sent to stockists and will be available to purchase on The Planthunter shop.

How many issues per year?

Wonderground will be published twice per year, in March and October.

Will Wonderground be stocked in shops and bookstores – both nationally and internationally – as well as online?

Yes. It will be stocked in selected retail outlets in Australia and internationally. More information about stockists will be shared closer to the publication date in March 2021.

If you are interested in stocking Wonderground, please email [email protected]

When you announced that you were making a print journal, you said it’d be launched by end of 2020. But it won’t be published until March 2021. What’s taking so long?!

I am an optimist and chronically underestimate how long things will take, particularly things I am deeply invested in, like this project. One of the members of the Wonderground editorial advisory group counseled me early on, saying it’s better for it to be late and excellent than on time and good enough. And so, it’s late. But I think it’ll be worth the wait.