Written by Lee Roscoe; Photo by Rachael Ligget
Beth Draper at Yellowstone in September…
Ten years ago, Beth Draper had a vision of a magazine which did not exist and which she had to make happen. Now her invention, CHA Magazine (formerly Cape Healing Arts), is closing.
In an interview this week, Draper said the magazine has accomplished its goal of “sharing the stories, passions and commitments of the community” to strengthen the connections “to ourselves, each other, and this magical land, sea and sky.”
Of her reasons for closing, Draper said, “I am an artist before I am a business person, so I didn’t always run the numbers.” The magazine broke even but did not pay staff and herself enough for all the time put in.
As with many media outlets on the Cape a dwindling economy means fewer resources. “In a nutshell, publishing takes deeper pockets to weather a tough quarter or two,” Draper said. “With a small staff and a tight budget, any changes in personal or professional lives can throw you off course.”
Draper has nothing but praise for her staff. She said she is “filled with gratitude” for community liaison Ginia Pati, who helped to manage, distribute copies, and care for the advertisers; Darren Wotherspoon, her graphics man, who gave so much in time and detail to put it together; her sales rep. Jeff Tavares; contributing writers, editors and photographers; and to the Cape community in which CHA became a cult classic, known for pioneering a template combining the green with the spiritual, the local with the cosmic.
“Personal transformation could become community transformation,” Draper said. One of her co-workers said that “CHA has been a wonderful vehicle for both individuals and businesses, to not only highlight their own unique contributions, but also to inspire the dovetailing of shared community goals.”
Printed on chlorine-free recycled paper the magazine was a tactile delight, filled with graphics and layouts both sophisticated and eye-catching, yet keeping the Cape gestalt.
Some issues were themed, some were not, in four issues a year, one compatible with each season. Articles could inform the public about conservation, solstice, green business, or local artisans. One special accomplishment: the magazine provided a place where health providers, the healers, could network out of their many disciplines with each other and with the readers.
“When the time was right, themes just developed, issues came together,” Draper said, citing the spring 2010 edition’s articles on NSTAR, ponds, fertilizers, the health of the water and re-nourishing the earth. “We put it all together to use as a catalyst. We had no fear about saying how things really are, or of driving away the tourists, because the point was to say something that needs to be heard in the community.” Another recent source of pride: a winter issue that talked about why writers write and showcased some of the Cape’s best books. Local booksellers had a terrific season in a bad economy, selling many of CHA’s picks. Coincidence? Or Influence?
Recently, CHA retooled with a new media kit and strategy. The magazine, which is supported by advertising revenues, could publish two times a year and turn a larger profit. Its brand-new on-line presence at www.chamagazine.com, which archives issues back to 2003, could be enlarged. Now a giveaway, it could be turned into a subscription-based or pay-per-issue venture, or even changed to non-profit status. Someone with like vision and funds for a modest investment could take what has been nurtured to a circulation of 20,000 (with an estimated readership of 45,000) onwards.
If Draper cannot find a buyer for the magazine and website as a package, she would still like to find someone to continue the website. She is not sure how to accomplish this, but desires it for the sake of the readers, artistic contributors, and the advertisers. There is really no other source she knows of which provides the kind of local holistic information emphasizing the connection between mind, body, spirit and earth that readers accessed through CHA.
Draper is first and foremost an experienced graphic artist, the head of Open Eye Communications in Brewster on Millstone Road, which will continue to work with clients old and new.
CHA took “a lot of energy to hold on to, and then to let it go takes a lot of energy, which will be released, directed at something new and very powerful, too,” Draper said. “It’s like losing a love,” but she is “ready to move on.”
Go to www.chamagazine.com for resources, green scene, health and wellness, conscious living and more. Readers, writers, buyers or advertisers can get in touch with Draper, et al. through the website.