I can clearly remember my mom telling me as a kid, “Crystal, it takes a village”. That was her response when I gave her a compliment or asked how she had accomplished something. “Mom, your garden looks great! Mom, how did you do on your workout? Mom, that party was the best. How did you get it set up so fast?” In every case, her response was “It takes a village”. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized exactly what she meant.
Every quarter, MWR compiles a 36 page magazine filled with information and articles touching on numerous topics. This is no easy task and actually does take an entire village – if you consider the 500 plus MWR employees, a printing company and Fort Gordon civilians a village. Two months prior to the release of the printed magazine, information is gathered for upcoming events from each facility and program, accuracy of information is crosschecked, articles are written, advertisers are solicited, the design layout is created to house all the information, editing occurs and then, finally, the complete magazine is sent to press! All that work doesn’t include the online presence of the FYI+ webzine (located at www.fortgordon.com/fyi), which provides information and articles to our online audience. The process for this issue wasn’t any different than previous issues; however, this issue sets cause for a celebration because the 2019 Winter edition is the 20th Anniversary of the FYI!
To commemorate this occasion, we thought it would be nice to take a look back at the long road traveled and remember those who contributed and helped this publication grow over the last 20 years. The FYI was actually originally called The Observer when it began in January of 1999. This publication was released monthly as a black and white newsletter for the Fort Gordon community to receive information on what was happening in MWR. The first editor of The Observer was Ayanna Wiggins. Her team consisted of numerous people over time – such as Bartley Harper, Amanda Hamilton, Glen Gray, Molly Swift, and Henry Wynn – working diligently to produce the publication. The Observer had a short life; however, after a few years, the decision was made to choose a new name.
As a way of getting the community involved, a competition was held and everyone was asked to submit their ideas. The winning name came from Fred Perry, former Tactical Advantage Sportman’s Complex manager, and the “FYI” was chosen in July of 2005. That October, readers picked up the 7″ x 8.5″ magazine expecting to see the usual black and white print. Instead, they opened a full color, glossy publication. Not only was there information and ads about the events happening on the installation, but it also featured new contributors who wrote about everyday life.
In October of 2006, the publication grew to a full-size magazine with multiple contributors, new features, and a new focus on info that was relevant to the entire Fort Gordon community, as well as producing more attractive covers and quality photography. With Ayanna at the helm, the FYI really began reaching out to the Fort Gordon community with frequent competitions and giveaways, inspirational articles and interviews with artists, musicians, and more. Publishing a full size monthly magazine was a team effort and the entire Marketing Office was often involved in photo shoots, major editorial features, and promotional activities like going to Morale Call as the FYI Magazine.
Sadly, major changes hit the Marketing Office in 2007 when Henry and Ayanna left Fort Gordon, and Glen Gray tragically passed away after battling illness for many years. Glen had been a wonderful part of the team – known for his kindness, generosity and incredibly dry sense of humor, Glen had a great eye for design, and had supported first the Observer and then the FYI as it grew.
In spring of 2008, Molly Swift took on the role of editor of the FYI. She and Bartley revamped the look and content, sprucing up the entire layout. She began reaching out beyond the borders of the CSRA. She interviewed service members overseas, veterans from wars long passed and spouses awaiting their loved ones arrival, always looking for ways to celebrate our military community and the Service Members who had made a difference in our lives. The magazine regularly featured contributions from MWR managers and staff, including Steve Walpert, Susie Joyner, Jerry Swain, and Randy Taylor.
The team changed quite a bit, but the FYI continued on with Bartley taking on the major role of design until 2011 when Nathan Hoeller was welcomed as the FYI Creative Director. Contributors included office members, Tai Doick, Alice Rahauser, Simone Beltz, Ashlie Crabtree, Ariel Alexis, Heather Addis, Jenifer Chrisman, Katherine Scott, and myself, as well as other MWR staff and the Fort Gordon Community. Anna Gaillard sold advertising for the publication as the Sponsorship and Advertising Coordinator, and occasionally contributed as a writer. Anna also became a huge FYI advocate off-post, taking the magazine out into the community and generating more support for MWR and Fort Gordon.
Every ending comes with a new beginning. Molly moved on to a different type of writing – publishing the Little Guide 2 Augusta – and longtime team member, Bartley Harper, retired. In April 2013, the printed version reduced its pages and size to launch the digital presence of FYI+. FYI+ increased the MWR website traffic by almost 80%. Heather became director of the Marketing Office, and new Marketing members, Micole Jones-Stokes and Nicholette Enos, were welcomed to the team, and I became the editor in 2015. In the middle of all this change, Anna lost her fight to cancer at the end of 2014. The loss hit everyone hard and her spunky sense of humor is truly missed.
The last couple of years have seen a few other changes in staff. Nathan passed over the reins as Creative Director to Alaine Spencer in 2017, Cathy Shaw became the new Sponsorship and Advertising Coordinator, and we welcomed our newest newbie, Jasmine Franklin, in October. We’ve had our ups and down, controversial covers, rewrites and days when deadlines were our worst enemy, but we always pull through…together!
After researching the past 20 years, I started to wonder what it was like for previous team members and if their stories were as crazy and exciting as what we go through every quarter. On November 5th, the Marketing Office invited everyone back for a reunion. It was tons of fun to meet and catch up with others who have been involved with the magazine. Seeing all the material produced, features written, and the events created caused lots of laughs, stories and memories shared over pizza and pop – or soda as it’s called around these parts. Such an awesome, nostalgic moment in time! That’s when it hit me; my mom was right – it really does take a village!