Delis Palacios was 24 years old in 2002, when guerillas in Bojayá, Colombia killed 79 members of her community who had taken refuge in a church. Today, she’s over 40, and has made it her life’s mission to advocate for peace. During the country’s ongoing negotiation to end the war that culminated in 2016, she spoke on behalf of her community, recalling the massacre and asking for an end to the violence, often at risk to her own life. Her activist spirit has filtered down to her daughter, who is the same age now that Palacios was during the massacre, and wants to use filmmaking as a way to tell their community’s story.
Her story is one of 10 featured in For, a new print publication focusing on global stories of people doing good for one another. Each issue will focus around a particular theme, and the inaugural issue, in which Palacios’s story features, is on aging and maturing. “It’s something that nobody wants to think about or talk about, but it’s something that we’re all dealing with–we’re all getting older,” says Patrick Durgin-Bruce, creative director and cofounder at Ultravirgo, the design and branding studio that conceived of and produced the publication. “We’re trying to deal with these bigger issues in a really personal, relatable way through these stories of people who are using their experiences in life to do good for others.”
For: Maturing features an interview with architect Matthias Hollwich, an architect who advocates for designs that foster inter-generational communication and enable older people to remain in place as they age. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter sits down for an interview with a longtime family friend to discusses his health and humanitarian efforts, and how he hopes to transmit an ethos of service to the next generation. Weeraphong Kangwannavakul, who founded the Play Museum in northern Thailand, encourages elders in his community to reconnect with the games of their youth and teach them to a younger generation.
The publication presents aging through a varied, global perspective that’s not so much about getting older as it is about communicating and sharing experiences that accrues along the way. Hence the name “maturing”: As For editor-in-chief and Ultravirgo cofounder Elizabeth Durgin-Bruce writes in the introduction, “we found that maturing–mentally or emotionally developing–better connoted the active, ongoing nature of our topic.”
As a design agency that frequently works with clients like the United Nations and other international NGOs, Patrick says that Ultravirgo constantly “hears all these amazing stories of people doing things in the far reaches of the world, but nobody is really collecting these stories in a way that people can easily find.” As designers, he adds, they naturally gravitated toward the print magazine format. While the Ultravirgo team took on the design and production of the magazine as an in-house side project, they worked with a team of freelance writers and photographers around the world, who documented stories from their own countries. A Colombian journalist interviewed Palacios, for instance, and a Thai writer talked with Kangwannavakul. The stories are presented in the original language, side by side with an English translation.
Officially launched on June 27, the publication will cost $20–which is steep, but the Ultravirgo team plans to only release one or two issues a year. The decision to launch a print publication in a time when the media form is notoriously struggling may raise eyebrows, but to Patrick, the investment of doing so is worth the cost and the risk. “It’s equal parts businesses and wanting to improve the world,” he says. The publication, he hopes, will bring more humanitarian clients in need of branding help to the studio, and will also encourage readers to think more broadly about how to relate to others in the world. For the project, Ultravirgo received some funding from the Knight Foundation, and while the studio does not anticipate the magazine will be a moneymaker, they do hope that they’re able to sustain the publication.
Currently, Patrick and Elizabeth are working on sourcing submissions for the next issue, slated for next spring. It will be on the subject of “belonging,” and loosely tie into issues of displacement–ranging anywhere from the refugee crisis to renter instability–and how people find a sense of home amid turmoil.