There are moments in life when everything seems to come to a head and we are confronted with a singular question that stops us in our track. After almost three years (or has it been four?) of spear heading The Pin the Map Project, I have arrived at such a question: Did I truly create something that makes a difference?
While traveling in Nicaragua, I was introduced to a co-op of female artisans who hailed from various parts of the country to show off their handmade products. Those from the mountainous regions had created pine needle bowls (I now own three), those from the coastal towns crafted bags made of recycled plastic, while others had made naturally-derived soaps or jams. Each woman stood before us and proudly told us the story behind their work and what had inspired it; showing the time and patience needed to create each item. More amazing than their bowls and soaps though, were the women themselves.
These Nicaraguan women came from poor, rural villages where opportunity is limited and misogyny is rampant. The type of community where a woman’s role is relegated to house h0ld tasks and child rearing, where education often stops at the High School level (if not sooner). What each of these artisans have done is empower women by forging their own path, earning their own income and reshaping their communities to embrace the idea that women can offer more.
As I sat there filming, jotting down notes and snapping photos (ever the journalist), I realized in that moment how alive I felt. I felt at once privileged to be the mouth piece by which these woman and their stories would be shared; and frustrated that I wasn’t at the caliber of a New York Times reporter whose story could reach the world. I wanted everyone to know about these women, learn about their passion projects and how it was redefining what it meant to be a woman in their communities. I felt a sort of responsibility to capture their every move and expression, to leverage any following and readership I had built to share what they had created.
I think back to that moment in Nicaragua, to that palpable desire to bring a story to light. I don’t write for the perks, for the free travel or even the validation of social media likes or comments; I write for those women in Nicaragua who are pushing to create opportunities for themselves and other women in the country. I write for that lone agave farmer in Oaxaca who crossed the border 5 times to raise enough money to buy his land and craft mezcal. I write for the chef in Colombia who is trying to define the country’s food scene by chasing local ingredients. I write for the volunteers in Rome who have taken it upon themselves to protect, feed and play with the stray cats who live in the ancient ruins. I write for every person I’ve met during my travels whose story has fallen under the radar, whose endeavors are unseen and whose voices are often unheard.
I’ve thought long and hard about the direction I want to take The Pin the Map Project next. I’ve known for some time that—while I love blogging—these stories deserve more than a 500 word, photo-heavy blog post that gets buried in RSS feeds. I want to bring these stories to life in a way that blogging sometimes fails to do; and so I’ve decided to launch Pin the Map magazine. The idea behind Pin the Map magazine is to combine the work of my travel blog with my experience in journalism to create a tangible publication that will share dispatch-style writing with glossy images, available in print and digital issues released twice a year. The first issue is available for purchase now and was designed, published and printed out of my own pocket. The second issue—which I want to dedicate to people met, will share stories from Syrian refugees, Nicaragua and more—but unfortunately in order to cover the costs of launching Issue 02 and 03, I need your help.
So I’m turning to you: my dear readers, my friends, my family. Please help me launch the next two issues of Pin the Map magazine. For every donation received, in addition to the rewards offered at each donation level (inclusion in upcoming issues, a trip to NYC!), you’ll also receive a bracelet from one of my favorite businesses, The Little Market, which supports female artisans around the world. Everyone deserves to have their story heard and my hope is that this magazine will bring them to light.
Visit our GoFundMe page and thank you for supporting Pin the Map Magazine and The Pin the Map Project!