Ariel Gore, founder of seminal radical parenting zine Hip Mama, knows that print media can save lives. “Absolutely. It saved mine,” said Gore during a recent interview. “As a kid and a teenager, I had always been supported—parented, honestly—by books.” Gore was a teen mom on welfare when she discovered feminist zine culture: “That's what gave me a community in which I could be myself and not see my little family as some unfolding tragedy, but as the delicate and radical adventure it was and is.”
Gore passed the Hip Mama torch to a dutiful Portland-based editorial collective a few years back, but after she learned that the collective was thinking of going to a digital-only format, she returned as editor and formed a Kickstarter campaign to fund Hip Mama's print relaunch.
Gore spoke with the Alibi from her residence in Santa Fe.
Give the uninitiated a crash course in Hip Mama.
I’d been a single teen welfare mom through college. I started Hip Mama almost 20 years ago as my senior project at Mills College in Oakland. There were a lot of parenting magazines around at the time full of articles about how to choose the right sippy cup. There were feminist magazines, but many of them avoided parenting issues for their own righteous reasons. I wanted a media for me and my friends—urban parents, radical parents, feminists and college kids and queers.
I edited and published the zine for 15 years and then passed it along to a group of dedicated mamas in Portland. They did a beautiful job with it, but that good run ended when a major health crisis in the collective tipped the balance. One plan was for Hip Mama to go completely digital. That's when I came back. If I have anything to say about it, print's not dead.
Is it a sense of responsibility—both to the parents and children reared on Hip Mama as well as to the people who need it now—that has in part motivated your return as editor?
I needed a media for me and my friends 20 years ago, and I need one today. Subculture parents need a media. But Hip Mama relies on community support. We publish real and radical content that you're not going to get anywhere else.
Every time I hit refresh on Hip Mama's Kickstarter campaign page, the numbers just seem to keep going up. Congrats! Why crowdsource online to fund a print publication?
I love the irony, and energy, of saving print by gathering a bunch of people together using Facebook and other social media to pitch in online with a model of fundraising that can really only exist in a digital world. The $15,000 goal represents the absolute minimum we need to relaunch. If we can raise twice that, we'll have a real level of security moving forward.
Do you think print media is something essential for parents and children alike? If so, why?
Print is essential to all humans. Digital media has its place—I don't hate the internet—but reading and writing is different on paper. We use a different part of our brain to take in print media. For me it's more intimate—and it creates a world we can get lost in and be inspired by in a way that a television or an iPad just can't.