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From barren to burgeoning

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This spring, I visited the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C. There, I discovered an incredible, “living” story of transformation: pristine rows of magenta and cream-coloured tulips; delicate flowering cherry trees; a spectacular sunken garden; 50 gardeners who work year-round – continuously planting, digging, and pruning. The Butchart Gardens is a horticultural wonder!

In the early 1900s, Robert Butchart moved from Ontario to Vancouver Island, seeking his fortune in cement manufacturing. When Robert had exhausted the limestone (vital for cement production) in his quarry, his wife Jennie slowly transformed the barren pit into a vivid masterpiece – filled with more than a million bedding plants in some 700 varieties.

Now, the gardens – still family owned and operated – receive nearly a million visitors each year. Jennie truly succeeded in transforming a bleak, abandoned quarry into a delight for the senses.

Other barren ground

My spring travels also took me to Toronto, where I participated in the Canadian Church Press’ annual convention. There, I heard stories of other barren ground – the Canadian publishing industry.

Newspapers are losing subscribers and advertisers at an alarming rate, affecting their bottom line. So publishers are looking to new digital delivery systems – computers, smartphones, tablets – in hopes of winning back readers and advertisers.

But it’s slow going. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, U.S. newspapers lost $7 in print revenue for every dollar earned in digital revenue. The trend is similar for Canadian papers. Many say it’s the death of the daily newspaper.

Magazines are faring somewhat better. According to Magazines Canada, “Canadian magazine advertising revenues grew at twice the rate of other major media in Canada over the last seven years.” And, although magazine readers say digital content complements print content, one study shows that more than 85% still want a hard copy magazine.

As Evangelical Press Association director Doug Trouten writes, “For all the hype of digital, there’s nothing quite like having a tangible product show up in your mailbox.” Why? Because “print does things that digital doesn’t. When people read online, they understand less and retain less…. If you think about it, the internet is one big distraction machine.”

New kinds of growth

Despite these challenges, most magazine publishers agree there’s room for both digital and print. It’s a new season of growth and beauty in the publishing industry – blossoming in Technicolor hues.

Here at the Herald, we’re increasingly embracing digital media. Currently, we’re developing a new website and digital platforms for the magazine; we’re posting more online exclusives and extended content; we’re offering e-subscriptions to those who prefer a monthly pdf (email kbraun@mbconf.ca for more information); and we’re active on social media sites. So, if you haven’t already found us online, go to www.mbherald.com, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

The good news is we’ll always have a story to tell. God’s transforming work in human hearts is as beautiful and incredible as ever before – as the Holy Spirit takes something barren and turns it into something vibrant and flourishing. As heralds of God’s message of hope, we trust readers will continue to engage with the Herald, in print and across digital platforms.

And, as always, we welcome your thoughts and comments. How do you prefer to read the Herald? And what do you think of this month’s fresh layout? We thought we’d shake things up a bit for a special summer issue. Happy reading!

Laura Kalmar, Editor

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