Our owner resident-run magazine helps people get to know each other through storytelling.
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live…” — Joan Didion
Sharing stories about our lives and experiences is how we connect with others. Through shared stories, we find common ground and gain mutual understanding. It’s also an important part of how we express our individuality. We have many programs that foster new connections at Maplewood Park Place, but fewer are more public than our owner resident-run magazine The Messenger.
The Messenger began in the 1990s to disperse community news. Following a brief hiatus during the pandemic, operations are back up and running, providing owner residents with stories and interesting facts about each other. The magazine has become even more popular with each month, growing from 12 to 16 printed pages.
For regular contributor and associate editor Karen Braun, The Messenger was a big part of why she moved to Maplewood earlier this year. “It sealed the deal for me,” Karen said. “It was because the residents were writing it themselves and it was so personal and friendly. I said to myself, ‘this is it, this does it’, after I read that first issue of The Messenger.”
Bunny Huebner is a fellow writer and committee member, and she was also moved by the magazine when she toured Maplewood Park Place. “When we were looking at Maplewood, one of the influences aside from the wonderful apartments was The Messenger.” One person in particular, Penny Langdon, wrote an article every month. And I thought her pieces were so vital about life, living, and analyzing the political situation. Her husband had worked in the State Department. It was nice to know there were other people here that we could relate to. It helps with perspective too. People get to know who we are,” she said.
At the center of it all is editor-in-chief Bob Voas. He’s been leading the 10 to 12-person committee for many years. He solicits stories from all owner residents throughout the year, specifically new owner residents. “It’s a great treasure of the community. We’ve had long lives and many experiences and if you come to dinner, you can almost surely hear a very interesting story from your companions. Our job on The Messenger is to try to make those stories come alive. We try to make it as easy as possible for people to bring those stories to us,” he said.
Karen didn’t have to wait long to be invited to share a story of her own. “I’ve never written before; I mean we all wrote for our jobs, but not creative writing. And then I wrote one article and thought it was kinda fun. It hooks you. I wrote three articles about things that burn my biscuits, things that make me mad. And I must have started something because people would come up to me and ask when I was doing another ‘Burns My Biscuits.’ I laugh and say, ‘I don’t know. I’m pretty happy right now,’” Karen teased.
Everyone has a story to tell and those who reside at Maplewood have lived fascinating lives. A big reason owner residents enjoy reading and participating with The Messenger is that it’s part of a photographic record of the people who have walked Maplewood’s halls.
“To some degree, we’re writing about ourselves, and we really haven’t done that before. Most of us have done a lot of writing in our careers, but not very much about ourselves. Revealing and sharing pieces of ourselves and trusting that our fellow residents will like it gives a certain sparkle to our companionship,” committee member Donald Berlin said.
Creative writing comes easier to some, but the team at The Messenger doesn’t want that to stop anyone from sharing their stories. The dedicated volunteer committee has writers in the community who love helping people craft their stories. Whether it’s difficulty with typing, or just getting the right words down, there’s someone who can help turn a story into a feature.
The monthly magazine is available in print to owner residents and online to anyone who wishes to read it. With so much emphasis put on good storytelling, the design element is outsourced to a local printing company. The committee selects the running order for each month and assembles a master document. The printing company takes care of the rest, spinning the stories and photos into a sturdy handheld magazine.
Owner residents who have participated are flattered by how much attention their pieces in The Messenger get from their neighbors who regularly stop one another in the halls to comment on the latest articles. It’s not uncommon to see a gathering of people by the mail room on the day of the magazine’s arrival. It’s a day to look forward to at Maplewood Park Place. Request a digital copy of The Messenger and learn all about who we are. Call 301-571-7441 today to join us for a tour and grab a copy of the latest issue while you’re here.