Mountain Pearl, the local quarterly publication formerly known as Mountain Parent, brought readers its first rebranded edition this March. The spring edition can be found at various distribution sites up and down the Valley.
Mountain Parent was first published almost 20 years ago by Sarah Shook and carried on for a few years, but was shelved in 2008 during the Great Recession. Lauren Suhrbier relaunched it in the fall of 2016.
Kathryn Camp took over as the editor of the magazine in 2019 and later assumed the responsibility of publisher as well, following the departure of Suhrbier last year. Camp realized relatively early on that Mountain Parent’s readership was not merely relevant to its namesake, albeit part of its targeted audience — parents.
Camp mulled over the name-change and, while cross country skiing with her dog one night, she couldn’t help but notice the magnetic pull of the luminous moon. A pearl in the sky. And that’s when it dawned on her.
“In this first year, you’ll see the moon on every cover in a different phase,” Camp explained, while pointing out the “new moon” in the upper-right corner of the current edition’s cover.
Mountain Pearl’s publisher/editor has a background which, as a matter-of-fact, includes working as an ad sales person for The Sopris Sun!
From early on, however, Camp had a knack for journalism, having participated in her high school journalism program and going on to study publishing at the University of Alabama where she got a job on the editorial board of the university’s newspaper right out of the gate.
After graduating from college, she drove a friend to Aspen and, like many, ended up sticking around. There happened to be an opening at the Aspen Daily News in its ad-creation department, and she jumped on it.
Camp has always had an affinity for storytelling. “That impulse to write journalistically was always rooted in wanting to tell other people’s stories,” she stated.
When she took over as publisher for Mountain Pearl, Camp laid out her short-term goals. “The first year was to survive and, now, the second year is to thrive,” she stated.
Part of the joy of running the magazine for Camp is giving local writers an opportunity to apply their trade and get paid. “I love it that I get to support other writers in getting their stories onto the page,” she said.
Furthermore, it means a lot to Camp to have a business model that allows paying a fair rate to freelance writers. “It’s a professional service, and it takes a lot of skill,” she said. “I think we should be elevating what journalists are paid.”
The editorial team gets together at the beginning and end of each 13-week publication cycle to have a roundtable discussion, reflecting on the recent issue and planning for the next.
Since the spring of 2019, the magazine has included articles from student-writers who are paid a stipend for their contributions. In the current issue, a Colorado Rocky Mountain School student and 5Point Dream Project recipient, Jacob Sam, writes about his endeavor to learn Navajo — the language of his ancestors. An Aspen High School student, Beau Toepfer, writes about pickleball.
For the past five years, the publication has held a student writers contest. All school-aged children can participate. This year, the winner of the high school category, “In My Humble Opinion,” will receive a $500 scholarship. All contestants are treated to a free “old fashioned” milkshake at Honey Butter. The deadline to submit entries is May 1. Visit www.mountain-pearl.com for more information.
Mountain Pearl is all for highlighting resources in the community and participating when it calls for it. In fact, the publication is hosting a presentation on how to become a licensed in-home childcare provider — a means to address the increasingly high demand thereof — at the Helios Center in Carbondale on April 11 at 6pm. The Early Childhood Network will also be present. Turn to page 45 of Mountain Pearl’s current issue for details.
“Pearls are made with grit, and it takes grit to live here,” Camp concluded.
Kathryn Camp, photo by Sarah Kuhn