Producing The FW Vine

Not long ago you received your winter copy of our biannual alumni mini-magazine, The FW Vine. Perhaps you still haven’t cracked it open and are saving it for a rainy day. But the Resource Center is already bustling with activity as we put together the spring edition. The mailing date isn’t until April 29 but by then it will have passed through many hands, who gingerly prune and proof it along the way.

1987 Vine Cover

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes confession: right now, The FW Vine is scattered and messy, like puzzle pieces piled on a table waiting to be fit together. This is my first time producing a magazine, and at times it has been overwhelming. I never realized how many telephone calls, emails, rewrites, cups of coffee, and hours of focus were involved. When you read a story that’s been published, it seems fluid, like it could not be written any other way. That’s our goal for The FW Vine.

Photo via Jay Platte

So what exactly goes into putting together an alumni magazine? It all starts with you. What news is current among alumni? What trends have surfaced? What stories need to be told? The Alumni Council generally works with Michael Mortensen to suggest themes. Every other issue now focuses on a specific department, like Elementary Ed or the Athletic program. This issue will bring us back to the Resource Center, its purpose and future prospects. The stories all tie into this theme, demonstrating how the Resource Center and alumni worldwide are continuing to care, connect, and celebrate.

With the contents planned, the next step is gathering information. Denizens of alumni have contributed to this, thanks to email, Facebook, and phone calls. I’m in awe that so many people have willingly shared their time and memories to bring these stories to life. This season’s issue relies heavily on information gathered outside the Resource Center, and it wouldn’t be possible without alumni participation. This has truly been a team effort.

Next comes the hard part: writing. Even as a Professional Writing major, writing for The FW Vine has been a daunting task. These aren’t my stories; they belong to someone else, and I am responsible to report them faithfully. Add to that the parameters—word limits and size of the page—required by the printer, and we’re back to the puzzle metaphor. Everything must fit; everything must belong.

After final revisions, my job is done for a while as our designer, Jared Rauh cs13 takes over. He captures the message of the text and conveys it visually, using color and graphics to pull it all together. When he’s through it will look like a real magazine, and the words on the page will become more than themselves. They will become story.

FWVine 2013 Winter cvr w

And after all the final edits, after all the tweaks . . . after they are printed, addressed, and placed in the mail, they will become history. The Resource Center volunteers 20 years from now will be able to pull out a copy, leaf through it, and learn what was important to the Fort Wayne alumni and friends in 2013. They will learn of our struggles, our victories, and may even pick up a few of our strategies for caring, connecting, and celebrating. Because in the end, The FW Vine is just another tool in God’s hands as He carries out his work through alumni across the world.

Photo via Jay Platte

What do you most enjoy about The FW Vine? What stories would you like to read? What stories do you have to tell? 

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