The Davis Dirt

I’ve been working on something exciting this past month: I’ve taken over as publisher of a local, print publication called The Davis Dirt!

It’s a Davis culture calendar, with a day-by-day guide to events happening around town—from gallery openings and campus concerts to pub quizzes and poetry readings. I would pick it up at the library every month when we first moved to town and mark it up, and I still suggest it as a source to others looking for cool things to do.

To back up a bit, a friend of mine reached out to tell me that the two women who started The Dirt nine years ago were looking to sell it. This was maybe the end of September. I wrote them to find out more and from there things moved quickly. I took over around the middle of the month, and I’ve been learning on the job since.

There was a time when I worked on publications that went to a printer: I briefly interned at a couple of magazines, and then worked my way up to Editor at a book publishing house in New York. But I’ve never personally printed anything—and even newspaper terms like “broadsheet” were just vague references until last week, when I sent files for the first issue. 5000 quarter-folded newspapers arrived at my doorstep on Halloween… ready for me to hand-deliver on my new (first) paper route. Trick or treat!

Which is all to say, it’s a little daunting. But it’s also very exciting! Those of you who have been reading for a while have heard me sing the praises of my hometown (here’s my guide to Davis), and may know that we have some history here: I went to UC Davis as an undergraduate, which is where I met Aron. He grew up here; his parents are retired faculty who bought (and built) their home here in the early ’60s. And since moving back, to raise our family here, my parents have moved to town from southern California. You could say we’re pretty heavily invested in this place.

So one of the things I’m most excited about is being a part of something that could support (and maybe even cultivate) some community, some culture. It’s a free publication, supported entirely by advertising, but I like the idea that the advertisers will be local and regional businesses—many are owned by members of this community and promoting them is good for all of us.

And I did think that I had some “new media” experience that might help with that. I’ll be slowly making some design changes, trying to grow its readership and get people excited about picking it up or visiting The Dirt online in the coming months. One of the challenges will be that I want to keep what they’ve built running smoothly, learning by following their lead, while also keeping my own vision for it intact so that I can bring it a fresh perspective.

What does this mean for Hither & Thither? Nothing, is my intention. I really value the community here, and appreciate those of you who read and engage here so tremendously! I’m always trying to figure out the right balance of posting, and between this new role and a few others—like mom!—I do get stretched like everyone else, so if I skip a day or two here and there, please know that it doesn’t mean that I’ve disappeared. In the meantime, I’d love to do a little crowdsourcing…

Does your town have any local publications you think are rocking it? Is there content you look forward to, a design that you love? What makes you pick it up? What makes it useful? Or what do you wish you could find in a local publication like that? I’d love to hear! And if you have any talented people you think I should talk to, please let me know! Comment here or message me on Instagram @ashleymuirbruhn.

Thank you!

P.S. A guide to Davis, California, and—a really old post, The Toads of Davis.


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