We’d just officially launched ALESCE last Saturday (and it was a great night with all of you), and before we start anything else, we’d like to share with you what exactly is it that we do.
Introducing the three big pillars here at ALESCE: ALESCE Magazine, co.ALESCE, and co.LAB. Each plays an equal part in ALESCE and is really what makes us, us.
People have asked us, "Why another Christian magazine?" and I think this is a valid question. Unlike other Christian content creators, we are not backed by any church (all of us aren't based in the same church as well), neither are we funded in any way. We’re not endorsed nor certified by the church to say anything specifically - most of what we think are our own thoughts. We are studying and/or working which means none of us are working on ALESCE full-time, and that we only have the luxury of working on it after work, or concurrently with the other school projects or submissions that we have. We aren't able to churn out articles and gain recognition by volume, nor can we publish as much as we'd like to on social media so that people remember us and know who we are and what we stand for.
We chose to do a print magazine cause we wanted to share our content and speak truth through tactile and creative means. Choosing to go offline thus means that we don't have as much data as we like to work with. While online publications have the ability to track which posts have the most engagement and the most number of views (and hence have the option of producing content that most readers enjoy), we are forced to rely on what we think people will enjoy reading, what we believe people need to talk about, and what we've prayed about to provide insights on.
So, why ALESCE?
Perhaps ALESCE is an affront to fast content, where the common adage is to publish as much as you can and as fast as you can so that people have as much options in terms of what they want to read, and what speaks to them the most. We are forced to be selective in terms of our content, because we only have 100+ pages every four months to talk about things that matter to us the most. Nat knows the best, because she's very insistent that anything we publish must be refreshing and is not readily dismissed as cliche, which causes her to work overtime to either get contributors to rewrite their original drafts or to continually edit them, so as to draw out the same constant truths that are present in other content pieces as well, but which remain very vulnerable and raw in terms their delivery. In doing so, something interesting happens - we produce pieces that minister to ourselves as well.
We, along with our contributors, write about things that still matter to us and on things that we may still not know the answers to or have the most enlightening insights on.
1 year on and we still have discussions on our pieces. Are some of them too controversial? Do we handle these issues well enough to be published? Are they interesting enough? We won't know until after the release of our magazine, but one thing is for sure -- ALESCE Magazine is for you, as much as it is for us. In capturing the rawness of experiences and ponderings, we hope to reflect the Christian faith as it is -- raw, messy, at times broken, but still remaining very much hopeful all throughout.
For those who are still wondering about our name, this must surely be the antidote to your questions. co.ALESCE believes in the power of bringing women together and in the community that comes out from it. At co.ALESCE, it’s all about finding new perspectives (a different side to our stories that we already own, if you’d like), all about being together with people, and all about the conversation. co.ALESCE will take place in various forms: our Long Table Sessions, our Gatherings, and our art labs.
Our art labs will bring like-minded women together to learn something new or do something new. Think workshops, lessons, and jamming sessions! That’s what we intend for our art labs to be.
The Gathering will look a little different. It’s a big forum session where we hope to invite influential and inspiring women to join us for an afternoon (or night, if you may) to share their stories, wisdom, and lessons gleaned about a particular topic.
And finally, our Long Table Session will happen once (maybe twice) every issue. 15-20 of us will gather over a good meal and conversation, and just talk about issues from ALESCE Magazine.
We had a Long Table Session in October last year, where we invited about 15 ladies or so who have read our test issue to have a discussion on dreams. Something interesting came out of the discussion, when we started talking about broken dreams. That's the reality of the life, isn't it? We may believe that God is calling us towards something, we may have taken steps in obedience towards it, but somehow, things may not have turned out the way we expected them to. Perhaps sometimes, life gets in the way. We may believe that God has called us to something, but circumstances prohibited us from choosing what we believed was the right option.
Co-ALESCE is interesting because the team can never have full control over how the discussion progresses. We may have an idea of what we hope to discuss on that day, but unlike the magazine where we are able to curate the content completely, the direction of the discussion will change depending on what is mentioned on that day, and what is picked up on. Repeated executions of the exact same session of co-ALESCE will probably yield very different results, depending on who attends that meeting.
And it’s exactly that that keeps us excited. It reminds us that we don't have control over people's experiences of our products or workshops, and that there is no one 'politically correct' answer to life's struggles. All we can do is to try our best to provide a safe and open space for community and sharing to take place, regardless of how difficult or controversial they may be, and trust that God will take care of which direction the discussion ends up drifting to.
co.LAB stands for collaborations and it started from the idea about how collaboration triumphs over competition. In this business-centric, self-centered society, it’s easy to always think about what can benefit you and what’s best for you. But co.LAB encourages us to think differently; it encourages us to think how we can work together with others around us collaboratively. And in doing so, we create an even bigger change and impact in lives and society.
co.LAB can take place in various forms from partnering with other brands to create something (our first co.LAB was with the amazing team behind Apostelló where we created a CREATE journal - find it here on their website), to serving with other ministries and communities, and finally, to just doing creative and fun things together. We want to provide this space to collaborate and create.
There is power when people come together, and there is greater power when we all aim towards the same goal: that is, to love God and others around us more. In co.LAB, we open up our lives and hands to an even greater work that’s bigger than ourselves.
With these 3 pillars in mind, we hope that ALESCE will altogether empower the modern-day women to live her life faithfully and radically, while also enjoying each moment. We invite you to journey with us as we begin this journey!