Here are some highlights of what we’ve been able to accomplish together in the past several months. Thank you for all you do for Orion.
Orion’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve a three-year strategic plan. Its goals are to grow our staff, launch a new, more dynamic website, grow the Fund for Women Writers, continue to implement best practices in financial management, and broaden our network of donors and subscribers. Over the next several months and years, I will keep you abreast of our progress toward meeting those goals.
This past fall we welcomed two new staff members. Donovan Arthen, our new Director of Finance and Operations, brings a wealth of experience in nonprofit financial management to the organization. He has already made immeasurable contributions to Orion with his financial expertise. Ananda Bagiackas is Orion’s new–and first–full-time Customer Service Specialist. Ananda brings a range of expertise to this role that’s drawn from her time spent in nonprofit customer service, development, and event planning. We feel very lucky to be working with both of them.
New Board Members
Orion welcomed three new board members in 2021. Phineas Lambert is the former publisher and director of Guernica magazine and sits on the Board of Governors for The Schools of Public Engagement at The New School, where he earned an MFA in Creative Writing. Phin has worked at HBO and Showtime in digital strategy and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School. His expertise in finance and digital media are an invaluable resource for Orion.
Elizabeth Lucas is an investigative journalist and instructor who has covered health, politics, and the environment throughout her career; in 2020 she was a Pulitzer finalist for an investigation into aggressive debt collection practices at a Virginia hospital. She teaches data-driven journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, and holds a B.A. in English from Calvin University and an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Missouri. Before joining the board, Liz served on Orion’s search committee for a new executive director.
Amy Seidl teaches in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont and is the author of two books on climate change, Early Spring: An Ecologist and Her Children Wake to a Warming World (Beacon Press, 2009) and Finding Higher Ground: Adaptation in an Age of Warming (Beacon Press, 2011). In addition to directing the Environmental Studies Program at UVM, Amy conducts research in sustainability science, campus sustainability, and science communication. Amy’s insight into complex storytelling about the natural world is an asset to our work.
Record-Breaking Book Sales
Our 2021 anthology, Old Growth, continues to break Orion’s sales records. The book just entered its third printing, with more orders from individuals and bookstores arriving daily. The book was accompanied by two live Zoom events held in partnership with the Forest School at the Yale School of the Environment, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology, Yale Forest Forum, and Yale Environmental Humanities. The events featured Robin Wall Kimmerer, Robert Macfarlane, David Haskell, Sumana Roy, Peter Wohlleben, and Jessica J. Lee. Like the book, those events broke records at Orion, attracting 5k and 3k attendees, respectively. Thank you for helping us make this timely and beautiful book a huge success.
We ended 2021 with a 20% increase in subscriptions–and our highest subscription rate in nearly 10 years. These numbers arise from many subscribers finding Orion for the first time, as well as a nearly unprecedented number of longtime readers renewing their subscriptions. Thank you for helping us reach new readers by recommending Orion to your friends and family. We are delighted (and honored) to see our unique approach to environmental storytelling in the hands of so many people.
By now our winter 2021 issue has landed in your mailbox, and we hope you’re as proud of it as we are. With nearly every contributor identifying as disabled, this issue of Orion broadens our understanding of sickness and disability, and fosters a conversation about how the body informs our perception of and engagement with our surroundings.
The issue has proven to be extremely popular not only with established Orion readers, but with new ones as well. So far, it has resulted in the most newsstand sales of any issue since the beginning of the pandemic. Sumanth Prabhaker, editor in chief, plans to continue expanding our pool of writers and cultivate stories that reflect perspectives that deepen our shared experience of nature.
Looking Ahead: Orion’s 40th Anniversary
To celebrate 40 years in print, Orion will hold a virtual gala on 6/14/2022. The event will stream at 6pm ET and feature appearances by Margaret Atwood and Rebecca Solnit, with a tribute to Barry Lopez.
Orion’s 40th Anniversary gala promises to be a celebratory and deeply moving event. We will reflect on Orion’s deep roots in environmental storytelling and showcase some of the voices who will lead us forward, while raising funds to support this auspicious work. Register online today so you can keep abreast of silent auction items, presenters, and other exciting 40th anniversary plans as they unfold. Here’s the link: givergy.us/OrionMagazine
Finally, it would mean so much to me and everyone at Orion if you would encourage your friends and colleagues to attend.
Thank you–sincerely–for your continued support of Orion. Your generosity helps us to continue pursuing our mission: to invite readers into a community of caring for the planet. We couldn’t do it without you.
Amy Brady, Executive Director