Our new anthology of regional writing, available exclusively to Belt members

Dispatches IV - CoverDuring the summer of 2021, I did some of my first real traveling since before the pandemic. I visited Chicago, Dayton, and the coast of Michigan, and got together with friends and colleagues in Cleveland for the first time since early 2020 (or before). Rattling around these parts of the Rust Belt, I marveled again at the beauty and history and vitality of our region. And I thought, on many occasions: how lucky are we that we get to live here?

That’s what it feels like to put together this anthology. Every year, there’s a moment when I look at the list of stories and think: how can we possibly choose? I love every single piece we publish, because each one reveals a little bit more about the people and places of the Rust Belt, a little more about what makes this place so special. In the end, of course, it eventually comes together—we find the right mix of subjects, writers, styles, and locations, and ship the stories off to be turned into a book. But the process of re-visiting each story is a chance to be re-introduced to the characters and communities of the region that means so much to me.

I hope this anthology offers that chance to you, too. It’s a collection of our most-loved, most-read stories of the past year, and each one is an invitation to connect with the region in a new and meaningful way—its challenges, tragedies, opportunities, and joys. You’ll meet the most legendary musician you’ve never heard of; learn the inside story of Detroiters’ fight for water; hear the story behind Wisconsin’s Black farming tradition; catch a moment of joy and release in George Floyd square; and time-travel around Lake Michigan on the Circle Tour, among so many other stories about the past, present, and future of the Rust Belt.

How lucky are we that we get to live here? ■

—Ryan Schnurr, editor



This essay is adapted from the introduction to Dispatches from the Rust Belt Vol. IV, which is available exclusively to members of Belt Magazine. Join today to reserve your copy.