Letter from Helen
Essex, 6 April 2021
I’m very sad to say that I am stepping down as commissioning editor of Areo Magazine. I have been at the helm of Areo for three years now with the support of my Second Mate, Iona Italia, and I have loved every minute of it. However, in recent months I have not been giving Areo the love, time and attention it deserves. Many of you will be aware that I recently founded Counterweight, a liberal humanist organization, which provides educational resources, customized action plans, mental health support and a community for people in trouble because Critical Social Justice is being imposed upon them in their workplaces. This new endeavour takes up so much of my time and energy that my beloved Areo, its writers and our readers would have suffered had it not been for Iona picking up the slack.
It is now time to formalize this new arrangement and hand over full control of Areo to Iona. Iona has been Areo’s sub-editor and copy editor for as long as I have been its commissioning editor and her unsurpassable wordsmithery has been central to its success and growing popularity. Our writers frequently express their appreciation of Iona’s ability to make their arguments more succinct, flowing and engaging while remaining true to their meaning and voice. It is central to Areo’s ethos that people be able to express a diverse range of ideas, making their own arguments and using their own language and, in this way, Iona has been its faithful guardian. She has also taken on most of the administration, all the communications, scheduling and publishing in the last few months. Iona’s dedication to viewpoint diversity and freedom of belief and speech allows to me to hand over the commissioning editor role to her in complete confidence that she will remain true to ethos that inspired Areo’s name:
Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties. (Areopagitica, John Milton, 1644)
So, I shall be stepping down and all responsibilities for Areo will pass to Iona. However, you do not get rid of me that easily. I will remain as a director of Areo, a supporter of Areo, a promoter of Areo and a writer for Areo. My baby is in the care of a new mother, albeit one who has been intimately involved in its growth and development for many years. I shall be Areo’s devoted grandmother, ever watchful and engaged—and probably occasionally annoying—but always with its best interests close to my heart.
Thank you very much to all of you who have supported Areo while it has been under my management. I intend to stay in touch with all of our writers and patrons and engage with our readers. Areo belongs to Iona now and I know you will support her as much as you have supported me. You make Areo possible and I hope you will continue to help it survive, thrive and grow.
Letter from Iona
London, 6 April 2021
Dear Friends of Areo,
I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to take over our feisty little magazine from 3 May 2021.
Independent outlets that offer a home to calm, thoughtful writing on politics, society and culture are more important than ever in today’s climate. I’m really grateful to Helen for what she has built here and I want Areo to continue to be a place where people explore issues with care and nuance, a place for people who are unafraid to critique orthodoxies or fling sacred cows onto the barbecue—but without inflammatory hyperbole or the demonisation of those who disagree with them. I also want it to be a haven of universal liberal humanist values, which, for me, means the conviction that we are all worthy of equal dignity, consideration and kindness. I want our style to remain clear, concise, engaging and readable, without stifling writers’ individual voices. I want us to be the most level headed, the most persuasive of the digital publications out there. I’d also like to expand our arts and science sections and the geographical scope of our coverage, so we can offer our readers a wide perspective on our world.
The first order of business, however, is to ensure Areo’s survival.
Helen has been valiantly running the magazine pro bono for the last couple of years. She has always been very uncomfortable asking for money. This just about worked because we received a lump sum donation a while ago and because Helen has other means of income to support her personally. That one-off donation is now almost depleted and our only source of on-going funding is our Patreon. Maintaining a high quality magazine will be a full-time job for me: it must be self-sustaining. And our amazing contributors also need to be paid—my long-term aim is to be able to pay our writers much better for the high quality work they produce.
To stay viable, we will need to raise significantly more funding over the next months.
Patrons are our lifeblood. I’ve put together new Patreon and SubscribeStar rewards, effective from May: access to the Two for Tea podcast (you can check out the free back catalogue here); our own livestream, a Google hangout and the opportunity to sponsor individual writers. Encourage everyone who appreciates our work to join the Patreon or SubscribeStar. Check out the new tiers and consider raising your own financial contribution, if you are at all able. I’m also looking for advertising for both Areo and the Two for Tea podcast and I’ll be approaching potential major donors. If you know of a person of means who cares about freedom of expression and viewpoint diversity and would get satisfaction from being part of this enterprise, please send them in my direction.
You, my friends, have made Areo possible so far and I am immensely moved and grateful for your faith in the publication. Over the past three years, I have come to love both Helen the person and the spirit of the magazine. It’s become a showcase for your most important and considered ideas. But if it is to continue, we will need to widen this circle and persuade others that what we do is important and valuable. Think of this as a transfusion drive. Spread the word far and wide.