Editor’s Note

by Mark Baechtel

  • Editor's Page
decorative header image from Volume III Issue 2 · Spring 2017
Several people standing on the porch of Macy House, smiling.

Rootstalk Student Editors, Spring 2017, at Grinnell College’s Macy House, home of Rootstalk and the Center for Prairie Studies. From left: Bazil Mupisiri, Mineta Suzuki, Ben Brosseau, Noah Herbin, Sonia Chulaki, Ceci Bergman, Tapiwa Zvidzwa, Evan Cooper, Rhett Lundy, Marie Kolarik. Not pictured: Aditya Nag

In discussing the prairie region, we often fall to talking about communities, and the various ways we define them. There are the interwoven communities of the natural world, on which the web of a functioning prairie ecosystem’s life depends; there are the communities of thought, conviction, or scholarship, formed by those concerned with studying and legislating various aspects of life in the region; then there are the physical communities in which we, the human residents of the prarie, settle: the cities, towns, villages, neighborhoods, and streets through which we define our civic lives.

A classroom is another type of community. It is a kind of biome, and the people who gather in it—though strangers at the semester’s beginning—quickly become a unit by dint of the shared experience, the hard work, and the sense of discovery which a well-run class entails.

This is as it should be. Engaging in this type of “community work” enables us, at last, to form the sort of truly educated opinions which we need to guide us in our unfolding citizenship in our region. If our community is functioning as it should, then learning to tell the prairie’s stories becomes a kind of “prairie restoration” work, in which we tend to the soul of our home place with as much care as any work crew shows in gathering seed, weeding out invasive species, or setting back-fires during a prairie burn.

In that spirit, I am pleased to introduce you to one of the prairie’s newest communities—small, but mighty —which took up its residence here in the Spring of 2017. Rootstalk leaf-bug icon marking the end of the article's text.

--Mark Baechtel, Editor-in-Chief

About Editor-in-Chief Mark Baechtel
Portrait image of Editor-in-Chief Mark Baechtel.
Mark Baechtel has nearly 30 years of publishing experience behind him. He received his B.A. with honors in print journalism from The American University in Washington, DC, and his M.F.A. in fiction-writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was selected as an Iowa Arts Fellow and a Summer Teaching/Writing Fellow. He is author of Shaping the Story, a textbook guide to short story writing (Longman, 2003) and has taught writing and publishing classes at the University of Iowa, Grinnell College and various art centers, as well as working as a professional book editor. His writing has appeared internationally in newspapers, magazines, journals and anthologies, and he has been a regular book reviewer for The Washington Post. He is currently polishing the stories in a collection of short fiction, entitled What Moves and What Is Still, and is at work on a novel entitled Renovation.