by Mark Stash
2021 marks the 20th anniversary of Life in the Finger Lakes magazine. Tim Braden, my business partner, and I started with our first issue in the summer of 2001. At the time, we were just focused on getting the very first issue published, and then see what the response was like to possibly produce another one. Eventually we ended up publishing a fall issue that year as well.
To say the title was created on a grassroots level is an understatement. We would visit any Rotary club or service organization to promote what we were doing. Many nights were spent in front of groups of people, explaining what the magazine was all about and trying to drum up interest and support. When we first had the idea for a glossy magazine about the Finger Lakes, we visited local businesses to gauge whether they could get onboard with us by advertising their product. We were told by more than one business that, “You’re gonna fail with this project.” Those kinds of statements had an effect on us – it made us even more steadfast in what we wanted to accomplish, and prove those people wrong.
I remember mentioning to Tim at one point, “Wouldn’t it be great if we were still publishing this 20 years from now?” And here we are. Sometimes I do feel every one of those years, but many other times I look back and think about how time has flown by.
I am asked sometimes, after all these years, if I still enjoy what I do. I entered into the publishing world from a graphic design background. My first job out of college was working in the design/production department at Highlights for Children magazine in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. It seems that my career has definitely been geared toward magazines. It just sort of happened that way. When the opportunity came up to actually create a magazine about the Finger Lakes, an area which I have grown to love very much, I jumped at the chance. I developed editing skills and have grown both individually and professionally. I believe that creating something concrete, something you can hold in your hands and enjoy, is a great joy in itself. The sense of accomplishment is there to continue onwards.
Over the years, I have received my share of mail – both positive and negative, concerning Life in the Finger Lakes. Occasionally I’ll receive a note that simply moves me, sometimes to tears, about how the magazine has positively impacted someone’s life, and how they show their appreciation through a note. That kind of feedback is like nourishment for the soul to me, and it encourages me to continue onward.
We are looking forward to 20 more years of bringing the best of the Finger Lakes to loyal readers like you. Thank you everyone for all of your support!