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Our New Course

by Mark Peres

September 5,2006

This issue marks a new course for Charlotte ViewPoint. This summer we filed for non-profit designation and expect to receive our IRS certification for 501(c)3 status as a literary and educational organization. We defined our mission as thought leadership about city life and urban issues, and we expect to do great things.

Since our inception in November 2003, we have spoken to the city’s urban life and future. Our format has been simple, without fanfare or advertising. We create, we publish, and we share. All who have contributed to the magazine have done so as volunteers, speaking in their own voice – unmediated by reporters – addressing issues and helping guide the city toward a better future. We have been fortunate to have many of the leading citizens of Charlotte write for us, presumably, we think, because they know they are speaking to an audience of highly-engaged fellow citizens in a magazine that is unique in presentation and positive in tone. We also think that maybe we’ve had a good run just because our photographs are totally cool.

Charlotte ViewPoint is a hobby for the staff of the magazine. We volunteer a few hours a month, throw our elements into the cauldron, and through our own brand of alchemy, magic results. We’ve reached into our pocket to pay for costs, enjoying sharing the magazine. Our success has been purely by goodwill and word of mouth.

This summer we did what many organizations do. We asked, could we do better? Well, the answer, of course, is yes. We could feature new writers to keep our insights fresh. We could publish beautifully produced books that forge new ground for citizen participation. We could build a new interactive website that would be a forum for engaging comment and exchange. We could present provocative speakers and host discussions about cutting-edge ideas. We could do all sorts of things, but to do it we would need resources.

The idea to form Charlotte ViewPoint as a charitable entity grew out of the opportunity to produce a premier coffee table book about the city. For several months, we have been designing a book that collected many of our guest columns, interviews, poetry and photographs in a stunning, contemporary format. In figuring out how to publish it, it became clear that having resources goes a long way. Good people suggested the course we are now taking that would be a win for all those who support our mission. Once we receive IRS certification, monies donated to Charlotte ViewPoint would be tax deductible, helping those who support us while giving us the wherewithal to go about our work.

With our filing for non-profit status pending, we have gained the support of several organizations who have given us grants to support the publication of our coffee table book. Truly unique in content and presentation, Charlotte ViewPoint: Perspectives will be a 248-page book that will offer a remarkable lens through which to see Charlotte and the region. Distributed by John F. Blair, Publisher, out of Winston-Salem, the book will be available in local bookstores and through the Web this December. With additional support, it will be the first in a series of special projects that we aim to produce.

The energy behind our new direction has also allowed us to attract new writers to our magazine. We’ve decided to have a pool of columnists that we will mix and match in every issue to bring more variety and diversity to our pages. This issue we introduce Elizabeth McKee, Director of Leadership Studies at Queens University McColl Graduate School of Business, and Darryl Spencer, Professor of English at Johnson & Wales University. Rick Smyre, our guest columnist and prominent futurist, will return in future issues to explore themes of community transformation.

If you want us to grow and do better, then we need your help. Share ideas that will help us succeed. Write a column. Send us a check. Ask all your friends and colleagues to join our email distribution list. Tell them that Charlotte ViewPoint is a grassroots group raising the level of discourse about city life – and we’re better for it.

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