Open: From the Editor

Author: 
Scott Ballum
While it is certainly a group effort over here at Team Sheepless, at the moment I am the only full-time employee/manager/editor/designer/business director. As I prepare to pry into the lives and businesses of grassroots organizations, activists, artists, and entrepreneurs, I think its only fair to start with my own.

I've had that entrepreneurial/independent itch for many years, cutting in and out of schools (both BA and BFA programs), in-house creative director jobs for advocacy groups, and design studios while I tried to balance my desire for a steady income with my cravings to create my own responsibilities and challenges, and explore where my real passions might take me. I re-started Sheepless Co. as a design studio dedicated to cultural non-profits and socially responsive small businesses in the fall of 2008 and have faced both dire business challenges and critical success since then. It's a constant learning process, one that I love most days.

When I jumped off that cliff into self-employment, however, I also knew that my destiny included more that just design-for-hire. My constant inspiration and amazement of businesses and artists pro-actively engaging with substantial cultural and environmental issues drove me to want to understand them better and to tell their stories. My experiences working on projects like Consume®evolution Magazine (detailing the dangers of a mass-produced lifestyle) and the Consume®econnection Project (a year of meeting people who produced everything I bought) lead me to this new endeavor, an online magazine celebrating, informing, and connecting those people breaking new ground in beautiful and powerful ways. I discovered my enthusiasm for supporting the little guys, the scrappy guys who make something from nothing, because they are passionate about it. Artists, writers, filmmakers, designers, urban planners, restauranteurs and chefs and bakers and coffee makers who didn't find what they were looking for out there so they made something on their own. And let's acknowledge it's not always perfect, that there are compromises and God so many challenges, but somehow support each other in the Good Fight.

So what makes this different from something like Entrepreneur, or the small business magazines that my mother clips things out of and sends me? Is it that it's about art or community, too, somehow? That I am most interested in projects that are about these things than about those selling new products? The answer is a clear yes, actually, though it doesn't mean that they are mutually exclusive. It is definitely about our social responsibility though, about giving back to communities, making life better for the under-served, and facing social issues large or small and offering solutions.

I am lucky enough to have the help of some very talented business minds, artists, and writers, and the guidance of patient and generous advisers. I look forward to introducing you to them, and to the many many other amazing activist entrepreneurs out there. And hopefully inspiring you to join them.