Dear Umbra,

Can you recommend a paper magazine dedicated to environmental/social-justice issues that has the same kind of light touch and zany humor that Grist has?

I’ve found that getting really good reading material into the house and just leaving it around is a sure way to hook my two children, who are both avid readers. They’re both computer literate, but won’t go to a website I recommend, whereas they do read enticing stuff that’s left around — devour it, in fact! I’d really appreciate any pointers you could give us. We’re in New Zealand, but I wouldn’t mind importing a good magazine from anywhere, so long as it’s in English.

Masterton, New Zealand

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Dearest Robyn,

I’m a bit stuck here. The point of Grist is that it fills a huge gap in the literature. Our president and founder has suggested that you print out Grist articles and leave them lying about. But really, what did I expect him to say?

Is there a dead-tree counterpart to Grist?

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Photo: Bulent Ince.

Personally, I think any magazine that opens your children’s eyes to the larger world will increase their consciousness about social and environmental issues. Kids see through disingenuousness better than adults do, so having them read any mag that attempted humor and fell flat would be worse than having them simply flip through National Geographic (which, incidentally, did a big cover story on global climate change back in September 2004). Don’t discount the impact of nice photographs.

But let’s see what your fellow Grist readers have to say. Folks, please post recommendations for Robyn in Gristmill, our zippy blog. Naturally, Grist is the best, but in certain circumstances we must use a … gateway publication.

Meanwhile, Robyn, while you’re waiting for the deluge of expert reader suggestions, browse Utne Magazine‘s list of nominees for its annual Independent Press Awards, those in its Environmental Coverage category in particular. I think you’ll find some magazines worth trying. (If you’re wondering whether to trust their taste, rest assured knowing that they recognized Grist last year for Best Online Political Coverage.) Punk Planet might be tasty, and King-Cat comics, while not directly related to the environment in a traditional sense, are great literature and as such inspire respect for all of creation.


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