Dear Readers and Collaborators,
Winter is a time when, at least in cold climates, we are challenged to intentionally consider what we need to feel happy and healthy. It’s a season when nature can feel more threatening than nurturing. It’s dark. We get cooped up.

In addition to seasonal fatigue, human beings sometimes create obstacles to their own wellbeing. Here in the US, cultural values and practices can make it a challenge to keep ourselves nourished. Getting there often involves a process of discerning what truly brings us health and healing, and what is a mirage created by marketing. Products that purport to make us well may actually not, or they may come with a hidden cost–environmental degradation and the suffering of those who make them. The tools we’ve created to stay connected to each other make us feel lonelier. Food, for example, is plentiful, and delicious. More delicious than ever, in fact, thanks to technologies that allow us to create and amplify flavors our bodies naturally crave. But it is not necessarily created with nourishment in mind, and it isn’t equally accessible to all. So how do we find our way to the truth?

These ideas were in our minds as we discussed the theme for 2019’s winter issue. Feeling like there isn’t enough time to consider these questions or to take care of ourselves is a defining experience of modern life for so many people. This issue is intended to make that time and create that space.

Finding the words to talk about these things can be surprisingly challenging, as we discovered during the process of naming this theme. We considered “wellness.” But wellness felt too slippery. It’s a beautiful word that has acquired some baggage–it can feel liberating in its simplicity and broadness but it can also feel corporate, sterile. We also considered self-care, another concept that evokes a similarly wide range of associations, positive and negative, sincere and commercial. While self-care has a beautiful, radical, and empowering history, it’s also a term that can be co-opted in isolating ways that center people as individuals. We wanted a title that would include some room for the reciprocal ways we provide for others and also receive care in different stages and seasons.

Instead we considered what the goal is that unites the best aspects of wellness and self-care, and that’s how we settled on nourishment. Nourishment is everything that creates balance, connection, and wholeness. When we hear the word, we might be apt to think of food. Food can certainly fill that role, and at the same time, it’s only the beginning of the story. What constitutes nourishment varies by individual, by culture, and by circumstance. It can be nourishing to feel powerful, nourishing to feel small. People seek wholeness in honoring their ancestors, they find it in sexuality, in friendship, in service.
So, what’s your medicine? What does nourishment mean to you and how do you know when you’ve found it? Send us work about what fills your cup, and let’s imagine what it would look like to build a world more conducive to the health and wellbeing of all.

We will be accepting submissions until February 1, 2019. Send your work to submissions.culturework@gmail.com. For further instructions, visit our submit page.

In gratitude,

Rebecca Bacon Ehlers
Founder & Editor

Image credit: Rebecca Bacon Ehlers, 2018