Couri Johnson, co-president, SLAA
Hello. My name is Couri Johnson, one of the wet-behind-the-ears Co-Presidents of SLAA. So far the experience has been just down right awe inspiring, and I would like to thank my fellow SLAA members and all of those who supported us—be it through attendance, monetary donations, or letting us occupy their spaces for our events—and of course those who send us their work. We would be nothing without you. So far this year has been amazing. It opened for me with the Summer Festival of the Arts, where we were lucky enough to get our hands on not one but two time slots for open mics. They were amazingly fun.
Not long after we had a reading series featuring this issue’s featured author Colleen Clayton-Dippiloto and a selection from her book “What Happens Next,” Chris Barzak with his newest work “Birds and Birthdays,” and an open mic featuring some astounding readers.
I can understand if you’re sad you missed this, but you don’t have to be too sad, because you can relive it if you like. One of our major goals this year is to increase our presence, the presence of our literature, the presence of our voice, the presence of our community, to really gather ourselves up in a neat little internet bundle and present it to the world.
We’ve started making progress. The Jenny, of course, is our major flagship, and she’s a beaut. But we’re in the process of developing a fleet to accompany her—we’ve recently developed a new blog, where you can read SLAA member testimonies, and we’ve even got our own YouTube channel that features videos of our events.
We’ve got a marvelous, creative community here. It’s full of thousands upon thousands of stories, feelings, hopes, dreams, just waiting to be written, sung, painted, played. We’re creating a wonderful world, all of us together, and I’m excited to share it with each of you, and with the world at large. I hope we keep growing together.
Thank you all for coming.
Couri Ann Johnson
Co-President, YSU SLAA
Chris Brady, co-president, SLAA
The thing was…
…when I sat down at the table that day I had no idea what in the hell Chris and Dave were talking about.
I had heard of Black Monday. I knew the steel industry was important for this community, and (more importantly) I knew that when it collapsed the heart of the city stopped beating. I had heard the name “Jeannette” in passing, and could probably even guess that it had something to do with Youngstown Sheet and Tube if you pressed me on it. I knew my grandfather had worked in the mill after he came home from World War II and then once again after returning from Korea. I had heard it all before, and had grasped the concept that it was all very important in some way or another.
What I didn’t know was why.
I had never seen pictures of the blast furnace, and even if I had I couldn’t have identified what it was I was looking at. I didn’t know that around five thousand people were instantly put out of work on September 19, 1977.
I didn’t really have the first damn clue what Jenny was or what the SLAA was or who this Chris Lettera guy was and why my best friend was talking so excitedly with him about designing and building a somethingorotherandallthatnoise. I had just tagged along because the two happened to be meeting near the coffee shop that I was heading to and I liked the company. So I sat there and pounded down my coffee with then SLAA President Chris Lettera and Jenny web designer Dave Drogowski trying to be as excited as they were for this thing called Jenny.
That was in September of 2010, just a few months before the first issue of Jenny magazine was launched to the public.
A few months before I really knew what it was like to give a damn about this city.
And so here we are in the home stretch of issue five, rounding the corner on issue six, and keeping the pedal to the metal the whole way through. In a year of huge expansion and new team membership for Jenny, we offer you issue five as a sample of what’s to come. Be sure to check out the modern folklore of Darshan Baral’s “The Guava Tree”. Get ready to blush and laugh at the unabashed honesty of Meg Eden’s “TMI”. And don’t keep your dictionaries on hand for Carmen Leone’s “Vermillion”.
Also, be sure and check out our Jenny Blog, Youtube page, and like us on Facebook. And keep an eye out for what we do in the future. It’s gonna rock the city’s face off.
Cheers, Youngstown. This one’s for you.
Co-president, YSU SLAA