The Rebirth of Reed’s Student of Color Creative Magazine: Loose Change

Quest editor, Clarissa Lam (C), virtually sat down with the founders, Ocean Chamberlain ‘23 (O), Tania Jaramillo ‘21 (T), and Betsy Wight ‘23 (B), of the new student of color creative magazine, Loose Change, to discuss the creation of safe spaces for students of color to express themselves; how Loose Change differs from the former student of color magazine, Receipts; and how students can get involved in both the submission and editorial process.

C: What inspired you guys to create this magazine?

O: Oh, I remember it kind of started it because Betsy tweeted about it.

B: It was honestly like, to be completely frank, a lot of upperclassmen were talking about [it] after the meeting that happened, the public forum that happened with the Quest over the summer with the article about Senate. And a lot of people were like, ‘We should bring Receipts back.’ And I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll bring Receipts back.’ But I didn’t have a lot of knowledge of what Receipts exactly was just because I wasn’t a student when it was publishing. 

O: I remember a couple people commented on the tweet. And I just remember later, I think I texted you [Betsy] and I was like, ‘Hey, do you still want to do this? Because I’m really into the idea.’ And then I think I was having lunch with Tania. And then I was like, ‘Tania, you gotta join this.’

T: Yeah, yeah. I remember Ocean bringing it up to me. And I was like, ‘Oh my God. That’s so cool. I want to do it.’ And then we started a group chat.

C: Nice! So it was all very serendipitous then. Can you give a description of the magazine, and what your direction is or any goals that you have for this semester?

B: The thing, at least for me, that sort of sets us apart a little [from Receipts] or makes us more of a spiritual successor to Receipts is that we’re not really looking to do news stuff. We’re really more looking for creative things, but also the definition of that is very broad. So you can submit like poetry and short stories and illustrations and photography, but we’re also super interested in playlists and recipes and creative nonfiction and sort of these other forms of creating that I think, might not typically be associated with a literary or a creative magazine, but we want to make space for that. 

O: I think one of the main goals is definitely to have, well, first of all, a community for students of color, but also a place that students of color can submit their work without worrying about the white gaze and everything, and just kind of a place that everyone can put their work and not feel judged or not accepted, and also just a place where, like Betsy mentioned that we want your playlists and your recipes and everything. We don’t want it to be sophisticated to the point where it’s exclusionary. We want it to be very community based, community built.

T: Yeah, I’m a senior this year, so I’ve kind of been in and out of a few student of color spaces, and it can often be really hard because… there isn’t a space to just get respite or just kind of build community outside of being an organizer or having all of your relationships kind of mediated through that. Yeah, that’s one of my goals, I guess, is for it to not be a space where people feel pressured to perfection or speaking on behalf of other people all the time. I welcome people giving us their energy. If they’re really excited about politics, that’s great, and [if they] are activists, that’s great. But we can also have our community outside of the white gaze.

C: Nice! And then I don’t want to touch on this too much because from our past conversations it seemed like you’re trying to distance yourself slightly from Receipts, but what is your current relationship with Receipts? And I know that you mentioned in Loose Change’s first meeting that you met with some of Receipt’s former editors, so what did you gain from that conversation?

O: As for our relationship with the old Receipts, we definitely — as Betsy said — are like a spiritual successor. We want to make something new, but we also want to honor what’s already been published and everything. I talked to the old editors of Receipts, and it was a very eye opening and useful conversation that I’m really, really glad that we had. We just learned so much. We were thinking a lot [about] the logistics of everything, but we weren’t really thinking too much as to how the institution of Reed would take the magazine and how we should approach it when we get the inevitable backlash, and talking to them was really helpful with that.

B: Ocean, you were the only one that was at that meeting, right? From what I heard from Ocean, the conversation touched on, again, some stuff that the three of us didn’t speak much about, but something that particularly stood out to me from what I heard from Ocean was how we should avoid burnout because really creating and facilitating a publication in a space for students of color in an institution that has such a history of white supremacy is really difficult and can be really taxing. And so, at least for me, a really huge takeaway from that conversation was like, this is important and valuable work, but it’s also important to look after ourselves as individuals who are creating this.

T: You need levity… That’s something I found — and this is a little off topic — but same for anything like for classes or for work or for internships. I think that that’s a little bit of a goal [of Loose Change’s is] to have this be not just another Zoom call that people sign up for.

O: And we were definitely talking more about as many in person, socially distanced things that we can have. So I’m really excited for a possible art night, a creative night, possible release party, something else like that.

C: What are some things that you individually want to publish in the magazine? Are there areas such as art, poetry, or other things that you are each focused on?

B: I am not a creative writer. Like, I’ve tried it, and it’s just so not my thing. But I am still a writer, so I really want to open up the magazine to be a space where students of color can also submit reviews of movies and stuff. So I personally, really would love to maybe do a recurring column, reviewing movies both about and made by LGBT+ people of color. So I think that’s an individual goal of mine to get some of those pieces in there.

O: I’m a really big fan of cooking, so I’m really excited to write some of my recipes up and publish those in the magazine because I’m really interested in bridging cooking and writing, and cooking an art. Because both are really about the same things, and those things are like community, feelings, the senses, and everything. So I’m really excited to bridge them together and create kind of like a mixed, multimedia thing that combines them together that can leave you with something wonderful to eat and make you feel good. 

C: I love. The way I really feel connected with my Vietnamese heritage is through food, and a lot of students of color I’ve spoken to also feel the same way. What about you, Tania?

T: Definitely multimedia. I don’t know, whatever you make and you’re like, ‘That can’t be in a magazine.’ Just send it to us, and we’ll find a way.

C: Yeah, and then I remember during your first meeting that you’re going through a local Black-owned printer. Could you talk more about the printing process and supporting local BIPOC businesses?

O: Yeah, so the printer is called Good Green Printing Press, and they’re based in Portland. And it’s run by this guy named Jamal, who I talked to on the phone, and he’s super cool. And I’m really excited to work with him. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Mercados before? Well, Mercados are the people who print out the Black-owned directories in Portland and other places. And [Good Green Printing Press is] the printing press that prints their magazine, so I’m really excited for them to print our magazine… I’m really glad that we’re going through a Black-owned business.

C: Going into some of the logistics, what are you thinking for layout? How often are you planning to print? What’s the process like for writers or artists that want to get involved with the magazine?

B: We definitely want to do a weekly meeting, regardless of publication frequency because I think a really huge aspect of this for all of us is not just creating this publication, but also creating a space where artists of color can come and talk to each other about what they’re making or other art that they like and just making it a social space where we can all come together and talk about the things that we’re making and the things that we care about. As for our publishing schedule, I honestly am still not sure about that. Especially really getting on our feet during this time has proven to be pretty difficult, so at least my idea has been maybe our publishing frequency this semester will be sort of less than it will be in subsequent semesters. So maybe like we’ll do once a month now and then shift to biweekly or weekly, in future semesters.

O: I think this one is definitely going to be a testing run in a very affectionate sense of the word. I think we definitely need to go through making the first magazine before we can establish how often we can print in the future and all the nitty gritty stuff, but I really hope that we could do it next semester, either weekly or biweekly.

B: And I think a big thing that we have talked about both in meetings between the three of us and also brought up a little bit in our first sort of general interest meeting is that we’re super into nonhierarchical and horizontal leadership… So for layout, our idea has been to give lots of different people just one spread so that everyone can do a little bit of [Adobe] InDesign work and get that experience, but also not overwhelm them with doing the whole thing. And so I think by doing that, we’ll be able to maximize people’s ability to participate in the editing process and the creation of, not just the content within the magazine, but also the physical magazine itself.

C: Definitely. And then you touched a little bit on this, but what are some of the specific issues that you’re facing during COVID are you trying to make a physical paper in a virtual world?

T: I definitely miss the days where you could be like, ‘We’re gonna have a pizza. Just come through.’ But that said, I think our first general interest meeting was still really good. I think it’s just doing anything on top of everything else you have to do right now is so hard. And I’m just very proud of us.

C: That pretty much concludes all of my questions. What else would you like to add?

O: Follow us on Twitter @soczine_reed

B: Also, submissions are open… We have a rolling deadline for our submissions to be published on the website that we will be creating. So even if you don’t get it in soon, we still want your work. 

C: How do people submit?

B: It’s on our Twitter page. It’s a Google Form. If you have something that you’re not able to upload just DM or email any of us, and we are more than happy to help.

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