Theresa Kennedy is one of the founders of (it) Magazine, one of the most comprehensive online magazines of people doing good work. And by good work, we mean making HUGE changes in seemingly very small and sometimes very big ways. If you haven’t gotten (it) yet, now is the time to jump in and be inspired.
Love and Water- How did you get started with (it) Magazine?
Theresa Kennedy- Theresa Kennedy- (it) Magazine is an initiative of a non-profit called The Community Content Creators. We produce and distribute stories that highlight people who are making a difference. So we spotlight grassroots organizations, other non-profits, and we focus on the human spirit behind these groups and what their passion is that got them started. We post all the stories on the internet on (it) Magazine. Stories are delivered through the website, and are in cable homes on Video on Demand in LA. We are looking to expand our video distribution throughout the country. We also have a relationship with hotels through Lodgenet, through which we can air commercials and PSA’s on hotel televisions. We do a lot with internet radio as well. Ten years ago I worked at Fox Children’s network. I was the director of print production and managing editor of a children’s magazine called “Totally Kids,” which went to four million homes. My two original partners also worked for entertainment companies, and we all had the same feeling that we wanted to use our promotional skills for social good. We were spending a lot of time promoting television, and had an itch to promote so much more, so we started talking to organizations in order to find a way to bring their work to the forefront. The name (it) Magazine came from our desire to inspire people to find out what “it” is for them….Where do they want to make a difference? So we have nine categories of topics that we deal with, and look for stories in all those areas. We look for a personal component, of course, and also what action steps they are taking that our readers can support. We love having stories of organizations that others can replicate, so that if there is an organization that is small and only based in LA, if we post ways for others to expand it in other areas we feel that’s a great way to replicate it in other areas of the country.
L&W- Do your editors find the stories, or do people approach you with material?
TK- It’s really both. We have about 2,000 people on our mailing list now, and those people tend to feed ideas back to us. We’re an all volunteer organization, so people write about what they’re passionate about. We’re at a point now where groups have found us and are asking to share their stories. That is very exciting, and we welcome all of those as well.
L&W- What is the most moving experience you’ve had so far running (it)?
TK: One woman, Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, started an organization called Birthing Project USA, which is the only national African American maternal and child health program in this country. There are statistics about the infant mortality rate in the US that I did not know about before meeting her. In some cases, they are the same as those in very poor African countries. There is a cemetery in the South created for the poor to bury their babies, with thousands of numbered silver discs that mark where each baby has been buried. They died because of lack of health care in these low income areas, so many that they had to have a separate cemetery for the children. I just had no idea that this kind of thing went on in this country, and I was really moved by this one woman’s ability to do something about it. Kathryn has now created 90 mentoring programs nationally, including one in East LA , for pregnant women who need medical care and social support. Their volunteers educate mothers on how to take care of themselves during pregnancy and for the baby during the first year, and provide continuing family support programs after that.
Another woman, Jill Vialet, has implemented a program that is bringing recess back to schools that have done away with it, called Playworks. This was also very moving to me because it seems like such a small thing, but the kids, when they aren’t given an opportunity to learn to play and cooperate with each other, don’t do as well and have discipline problems that can also show up in the classroom. Since she has implemented this program, the kids are learning the elements of play, which was in a sense taken away from them. They didn’t have those social skills, and now they do. The teachers have reported that concentration and behavior has improved greatly, and that’s really inspiring. She saw an opportunity to do something that was meaningful to her, and she’s making such a huge difference as a result.
L&W- So anyone can access (it) Magazine, right?
TK- Oh yes! You don’t need a subscription- it’s free, and open to anyone online.
L&W- Is there anything else people should know about (it)?
TK- We love when people join our site and volunteer. There are so many opportunities to help in so many different ways. You can sign up as a volunteer, or just get on our mailing list to hear about what is going on. We’re looking to expand our website services and put user generated content features on the site as well.
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