Belt’s second annual Members Week is in full swing. Turning away from our usual content and sharing a bit from within, here’s the second part of our brief introduction of the Belt staff — their views on our publication and the Rust Belt region, as well as details on their lives away from Belt (check out part I here). Of course it’s impossible to really know somebody from their answers to a few brief questions, so if you’d like to get to know us better, come to our First Anniversary Party on Thursday, October 16, at The Bop Stop (2920 Detroit Ave., Cleveland) and talk with us face-to-face.

Now, let’s get to meeting the rest of the Belt staff … 

200x200 ZoeZoe Gould, Publicist

Zoe was raised in Westchester, New York, and received her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Oberlin College, where she studied under Anne Trubek in a rhetoric and composition class. It was in this class that Zoe wrote her first long-form journalism piece, “Aaron Dilloway’s Walls of Noise: Hanson Records” (look for it in Dispatches from the Rust Belt!) “I had never written in my own voice before, and Anne’s class was an eye-opening experience. I hit my stride with it in my piece on Aaron, and was really interested in his life and story. Turns out he was a minor celebrity — I had no idea.” Zoe moved to Philadelphia in May after graduating and did publicity and marketing for small craft publisher The Head and the Hand before transitioning to Belt.

On NOT returning to New York: “I was looking for work in publishing, but never had any desire to move back to New York City after graduating. Coming from New York, there’s a mindset that you live on the best place on earth — that you’re in the greatest city in world. There’s the idea that New York has everything — and to a certain extent, that’s true. But living in Philadelphia now, and after living in Oberlin for four years, I fell in love with the cities that have more community — they’re smaller, and more manageable and…I’m not really sure how to say it, they feel like home.”

On Rust Belt journalism:  I loved going to school in the Midwest and being close to Cleveland. There’s a vibe here that I like a lot, and I have a hard time getting people to say anything about Cleveland that isn’t destitute. What Belt does is important because these cities are filled with people doing amazing things that should be recognized. These stories should be talked about on a national scale because they’re from cities that are a part of our constitution — they’re what make up America. People talk about the Rust Belt as if it’s dying. I’m excited to be working with Belt. We are producing great content that needs to be shared.

When Zoe isn’t being a fancy publicist:  “I really love my dog, Finn, and I work from home so spent lots of time hanging out with him. I play softball on Mondays and I’m really interested in performance poetry, so I go to a lot of poetry slams and am learning about the literary community in Philly. I also run an afterschool program with kids at the Free Library of Philadelphia. I live near a large immigrant community so do a lot of language coaching and homework help. Philadelphia’s public schools are failing impressively, so kids need a lot of extra help. We also make Halloween costumes.”

Martha Bayne, Senior Editor 200x200 Martha_Bayne copy

Martha was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, and has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a minor in dance from Oberlin College. Martha moved to Chicago in 1995, and from 1998-2007 served as an editor and staff writer for the Chicago Reader. She left when the newspaper was sold and worked as a copyeditor for the Chicago Tribune for a few years before launching into editorial positions for various journals, including Plate, a trade magazine for professional chefs. She is also the managing editor of the Opera Quarterly, and the Sunday co-editor of The Rumpus. Did we mention Martha also bartends on the side? But wait, there’s more.

In 2011, Martha published Soup & Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Pot at a Time (Agate Publishing), a narrative cookbook based on the community meal project she started in 2009. Soup & Bread is a free dinner held once a week over the winter at Chicago’s Hideout bar, and raises funds for neighborhood food pantries and hunger relief agencies. “This has been a big part of my life for the last few years,” she says. “It’s been really gratifying and strangely meaningful.”

On the Rust Belt: I have always been interested in urban issues, community development, social justice, and the ways in which disinvested communities can reinvent themselves. The Rust Belt is a rich motherlode of stories under that umbrella. It’s a scary time; it’s an interesting time. There’s lots of creativity on the ground and people are throwing solutions on wall and seeing what sticks in creating new sustainable living environments.

The whole middle of the country is generally misunderstood. No one understands the difference between Youngstown and Milwaukee. It’s important to have people on the ground in these communities who aren’t romanticizing them, but making an effort to understand what’s going on  — and explaining them to the world. Let’s stop parachuting people in from other media centers to talk about us; let’s have people living in Detroit talk about their community. Let’s invest in our own talent so we can get a more richly textured and nuanced pictures of what’s going on.

On independent, Rust Belt journalism: The mission of Belt really resonates with me. But it’s not just the aesthetics, I value our business model: Quality over quantity. Community over analytics — this is what’s missing from journalism today. I’m really excited to be working with Belt. We are laying in the infrastructure to grow and truly become a magazine for the entire region. The potential is there — the question is how do we get there from here.

When Martha isn’t writing and editing for a million journals: I’ve become obsessed with the circus and have been talking circus aerial classes for the last year. I run and compete in triathlons. I also play with my 3 chickens. I do  production work with Chicago’s Theater Oobleck, I cook, and I read.

Rachel Kalayjian, Managing Editor200x200 Rachel

Rachel grew up in Solon, Ohio and graduated in 2013 from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science. After graduation she waited tables for a while, and still does from time to time.

On independent, Rust Belt journalism: I think one of the biggest mistakes we could make as a community that’s undergoing rapid development would be to ignore the perspectives of those who understand what it’s like to live and work here. Stories featured on our site and in our anthologies are written by Rust Belters with a broad range of talents and experiences, and they’re not all professional writers. I think that’s what gives us grit and integrity. Belt is harnessing those critical viewpoints to create a more complex idea of who we are and how we will survive. Belt is also attempting to create a space for dialogue at a time when we’re forced to confront the values that have traditionally defined us as a community. I’m proud of that.

When Rachel isn’t editing, planning events or organizing behind the scenes happenings at Belt: I run around the Cleveland Metroparks and I like playing volleyball at Mulberry’s in the Flats. I like to walk — I walk a lot, typically with no direction or purpose.

Bob Perkoski, Photo Editor

Bob was born and raised in Conneaut, Ohio, and became interested in photography in high school when he worked on the yearbook staff of Conneaut High. After graduating from Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, Perkoski worked as the art director for Signets Incorporated. Bob is the recipient of both the 2005 Northeast Ohio Business Plan Challenge and the 2007 COSE 10 Under Ten Award the from his work as co-owner, co-publisher and art director for Balanced Living Magazine. When he’s not photographing for Belt Magazine, Bob is the managing photographer for Fresh Water Cleveland.

On photographing the Rust Belt: I like photographs of buildings not typically considered beautiful. They allow you to see the beauty in something that’s not really controlled and Photoshopped. Usually the subject matter across the Rust Belt is organic and lends itself well to good images. One of my favorite articles I photographed for Belt Magazine was of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at Lia House for Dan’s piece. I took powerful photos of people dealing with addiction, and it was cool to be let into that circle. I like photographing articles where I can be an observer and not set up the scenes, but capture them as they’re happening. I’m a quiet person, so I tend to blend into the background and let people be who they are and not be intimated.

What has kept you in Ohio? When I was younger, I thought I wanted to move to a warmer place. I moved to California, then to Florida for a bit. I moved back mostly because my family was still here, but realized that being where it’s warm wasn’t important to me anymore. I grew up by railroad tracks — there’s nostalgia and meaning for me here.

When Bob isn’t snapping pics: “I’m an amateur bull fighter in my spare time. Just kidding. I like music, movies, travel. Boring stuff I guess, I’m pretty laid back.”

Anne Trubek, founder and editor-in-chief of Belt Publishing and Belt Magazine 200x200 anne trubek

Anne grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, and received her Ph.D. in English from Temple University. Besides her work with Belt, Anne is Writer-in-Residence Oberlin College and an author. The Wall Street Journal called her first book, A Skeptic’s Guide To Writers’ Houses “relentlessly witty.”  Anne is currently working on edits of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, which will come out in Fall 2015. Anne has appeared on NPR’s Weekend EditionThe Diane Rehm ShowTalk of the Nation and The Q. She is an elected member of the board of the National Book Critics Circle, founder of The Thinking Writer and is the recipient of both an Ohio Arts Council Grant and the Creative Workforce Fellowship from Cuyahoga County.

In 2012, Anne founded Belt Magazine as a result of the overwhelmingly well-received “Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology.”

On the importance of Rust Belt journalism: There is simply a huge gap, national media is shrinking, so the amount of journalism about the Rust Belt has as well; within the region, newspapers and other media have been struggling, too, so they have published less. And the quality of journalism has weakened, so even the stories that are being told are often not told well.

What void in journalism are you hoping Belt Magazine can help fill? We want to be a place for investigative and longform journalism: the crazy thing is that there are so many important topics and stories that no one has told yet. It is depressingly easy, really, to publish stories no one else has: simply by existing, and running a few stories a week, we can make a significant addition to a pretty decimated journalistic landscape.  But our priority is to do well-written, well-research, well-reported and well-edited journalism. Quality over quantity.

When Anne isn’t teaching, being a mother, editor-in-chief or superhero: I garden in the 6 nice months here, and, in the 6 crappy months I indulge in a semi-secret Goodwill addiction. It’s amazing what you can find in area Goodwills. All twelve months my son and I watch Drunk History, The John Oliver Show and Scandal, and we like to travel, too. Oh and I read. I read a lot.

Meredith Pangrace, Designer 200x200 Meredith2

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Meredith has a fine arts degree from the College of Wooster. After graduating, she worked in her family’s print press, R.E. May, where she learned graphics and technical skills that served as a foundation for her future creative ventures. “I learned Photoshop and Illustrator when they were first invented, and my dad’s company had the first scanner in all of Northeast Ohio. It took up an entire room in his shop. This technical side combined with a creative side was always interesting to me.”

Meredith began working on editorial designs with writers in 2001 when she was hired as editorial art director of Cleveland Scene, a position she held for seven years until taking the position of senior art director at the agency Boondock Walker in 2008. But after that, Meredith decided she wanted to do her own thing. Besides her client work for Your Teen Magazine and Organic Spa Magazine, Meredith is heavily involved in design work for several non-profits, including Waterloo Arts, as well as Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland and LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland. “Design is important,” she says. “If you go to a non-profit’s site and things are poorly designed or there’s no consistency with the brand, the organization is forgettable. It has been very important to me from the beginning to enforce a brand. Having a good design and sticking to colors and fonts is something I help Belt with. We have to stick to colors and fonts — that makes us memorable.”

On the term “rust belt chic”: Anne has grabbed onto this term and has done something really substantial with it. It was a buzzword, but Anne said, “Wait it’s so much more than that.” It’s a cultural movement around an area not spoken about. Seeing her grab onto that I’ve wanted to help.”

On re-invented arts: Pre-press is the field where they’d make the plates to make film to print. That doesn’t exist anymore — everything is digital. My dad took his shop and had to transform it over the years to stay alive. His shop went from a big union shop filled with guys in aprons, light tables and lithographic plates to a bunch of guys with Mac computers. It’s evolved in the industry. There’s a parallel here with the journalism industry. Magazines have to find a way to evolve and survive. There’s a parallel. Belt’s online membership model is unconventional, and an innovative way to survive.

When Meredith isn’t designing, she plays accordion in her alternative folk band, Maura Rodgers and the Bellows. “We released an album in 2012 and had a successful Kickstarter for our a new album. We’re starting to get to a little louder and a little more rock ‘n’ roll.”

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