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Potsdam pair plans to launch online magazine highlighting north country culture

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POTSDAM — Two Potsdam residents want to show the north country in a new light with BIRCH, an upcoming online arts and lifestyles magazine focusing on the region’s people and culture.

Founder Ryan Meashaw has been thinking about starting a north country arts magazine for years, and began working on the idea in earnest a few months ago, with the help of fellow north country native Jessie A. Larose.

The two say they want to pair the north country’s stories with a fresh, trendy presentation that captures the region’s unusual personality.

“I think it’s kind of a neat niche that hasn’t been filled yet. Other communities have this sort of thing,” Ms. LaRose said.

Mr. Meashaw studied archaeology, anthropology and art history at SUNY Potsdam. He works at the Clarkson University bookstore and has taught himself graphic design and Web design. He has always looked for ways to express his creativity, he said.

“My mom will tell you I’ve had a pen or pencil in my hands since I can hold one,” he said.

Ms. LaRose works at the Potsdam Food Co-op, where she said she meets interesting people and artists she thinks would make good subjects for the magazine.

Mr. Meashaw said he envisions the magazine as an eclectic blend of features to highlight the personality of the north country, ranging from video interviews with artists to a column on vegan and gluten-free cooking.

“I don’t really have any strict guidelines,” he said. “I think a lot of things can fit within our concept.”

Ms. LaRose cited the popular website “Humans of New York,” which accompanies photos of random people with short stories about their lives, as an inspiration.

“We want to focus on food and music and art and poetry and all kinds of local talent,” she said.

Despite their wide range of interests, it has been harder than expected to gather enough content. “So far we’re a little scarce on contributions,” Mr. Meashaw said.

Mr. Meashaw and Ms. LaRose generate much of the content themselves, as well as solicit contributions from acquaintances and community members.

Mr. Meashaw originally envisioned a monthly magazine, but has since decided to publish four times a year.

He plans to launch the inaugural issue in September. It will be available for free at birchmagazine.com.

He said he was inspired by similar magazines in other communities, but said the north country’s people and culture set it apart from other regions.

“I think there’s a real undercurrent of the arts and the entrepreneurial spirit,” he said.

The magazine will be funded through advertisements, and by selling downloadable PDF copies of each issue from the website for a small fee.

More information and updates on the upcoming launch can be found on the BIRCH magazine Facebook page.

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