Letter from the Editor: Hanging on for dear life in 2016

One year ago as 2015 was coming to a close, my resolution for 2016 came to me with ease and urgency: hang on for dear life. It sounds trite, but it was a real mantra for me and a sentiment I repeatedly returned to in the midst of overwhelm. Hang on. 2016 was a “jump” year for my partner, Adam, and me. It was a year in which he would quit his job, we would leave everything, and head out to California to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. It was a calculated risk, a level of discomfort that I knew was temporary, that I believed was worth the emotional turmoil that inspired a year-long refrain of hang on.

Little did I know that this mantra would ring true for many in the midst of a trying year. For months on end, it seemed that every time we would make it into a town and get some cell service after being on trail a week or so, our social media was full of public outcry and grief following a new tragedy. We would duck into the woods again to commune with nature while our country was being jolted, the fabric of peace being ripped open by senseless acts of violence. After the hike, we took two months to drive across the country, visiting friends and observing the change in landscape from the redwoods to the desert to the Rockies to the Everglades. I was falling deeply in love with our country’s diverse cultures and landscapes, mentally mapping out just what America means, as Trump signs began to pop up and punctuate the rolling hills of Oregon, the outskirts of LA, and the bumpers of trucks in Arkansas.

This dissonance expanded my tolerance for contradiction. Moments of serene beauty can coexist with ugliness.

And it is this very paradox that I plan to cling to in 2017. I will fight for my connection to peace and nature despite our culture’s severed relationship from the earth. I will find new ways to live, what I know in my bones is just, in the face of an oppressive administration. And I will love deeper when all signs point to cynicism and hopelessness.

In the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda (speaking of good things), I suppose this is my way of “writing my way out” of 2016. Before I head into 2017, I want to take a moment to reflect on the highlights of this past year for Catalyst. It is creative work and community building that keep us going, that keep us connected. These are the moments that urge us on into 2017, feeling brave in our ideals despite our country's impending change in leadership.

Catalyst Wedding Magazine Volume Two

1.     Volume Two of Catalyst Wedding Magazine

Nearly a full year had passed since we kickstarted the birth of Catalyst Wedding Magazine when we revealed the second volume, one that leaned into our mission and announced us as loudmouth leftists in the wedding space.

 Photo by  Betty Clicker

Photo by Betty Clicker

2.    {un}convention San Francisco

In March, a team of seven from Richmond flew to the West Coast with Dawn Mauberret of Toasted Wedding Event to begin sowing the seeds for a Catalyst community that spans from one coast to the other.

3.    Out of the Box

Carly, along with Shawnee of A Lovely Photo, conceived of a creative competition — like Chopped for wedding professionals — that would offer a new, more challenging spin on styled shoots, while also inspiring more diverse representation in the wedding industry.


Catalyst Wedding Magazine Volume Three

4.    Volume Three of Catalyst Wedding Magazine

Two of the shoots created through Out of the Box were featured in Volume Three of Catalyst Wedding Magazine, which included articles about race and beauty standards in the wedding industry, genderfluid wedding wear, and body positive boudoir photography.

 Photo by  A Lovely Photo

5.    Feminist Photo Vaycay

Carly independently coordinated a vacation in Palm Springs for photographers who wanted to bolster their portfolios with diverse couples styled brilliantly by Holiday Celebrate and Bridal Marche.

 Photo by  The Girl Tyler

6.    {un}convention Richmond

{un}convention came full circle and landed in its home city for the biggest workshop yet that included a styled shoot and a pantsuit-inspired fashion show by Slingin’ Pretty on the roof of the Quirk hotel.

 Photo by  Betty Clicker

Photo by Betty Clicker

7.    A growing team

Our Catalyst family is growing. Creative Director Jen quit her full-time job to focus on Catalyst. We also invited Brandon of Slingin’ Pretty, who has been an advocate for Catalyst since its very beginning, to join our team and support Carly in building a community of creatives who value social justice. Katie Wannen of The Plannery came onto our team a few months ago as our ad sales and sponsorship coordinator. Writers like Michelle Avitia, Arley Arrington, Robbie Freid, and Rebekah Erev have joined Catalyst to deliver monthly columns on topics related to love, sex, and marriage.

Happy New Year!

liz susong bio

Liz Susong is the editor of Catalyst Wed Co. She is curious about what 2017 will bring into her life.