A new publication is joining the journalistic ranks of St. Olaf College. Co-head editors Alexa Sorenson ’22 and Zibby Trewartha-Weiner ’21 spoke with the Messenger to explain the ins and outs of their new online magazine.
What is Passion Project?
Sorenson: Passion Project is an online magazine, and it is for the St. Olaf community to come together and be excited about things, and to share whatever they’re passionate about without any questions being asked. And we just want to encourage people to be able to be passionate and not feel like they have to have a reason for it.”
Trewartha-Weiner: Students can basically submit anything from art, so like, visual art, audio recordings, videos, writing supplements, poetry, interviews – whatever they want that is an expression of whatever their passion is. We created it because there’s this sense that we both had where people feel like they have to filter their passions and they can never be as excited about what excites them as maybe they want to be. And I think specifically for women and non-binary people and other identities that sometimes feel squelched, this is a space where anybody and everybody can fully express themselves and be as excited as they want to be, and allow other people to get excited about whatever they want to talk about.
Why is a website the best platform for your project?
Trewartha-Weiner: I think a website mostly came to mind because there already are print medias on campus – the Quarry and Manitou Messenger – that provide the print space, but we felt like a website could be something that we would keep up to date more regularly. And then also so we could have that multimedia platform – being able to produce video and art and photography in a more accessible way.
What are some of your passions that served as inspiration for this project?
Sorenson: One of the big reasons that we decided on Passion Project is that Zibby and I both have had conversations over the last semester about having “nothing majors” – she’s a religion major and I’m a women and gender studies major, WAGS if you will. And just a lot of times when we say “this is what I’m majoring in…” people are like “well, what are you going to do with that,” and we just wanted a good enough answer to be “I love it and I’m interested in it.” And so I think that’s definitely one of mine – I love feminism and studying it in an academic sense, and I feel like that’s not necessarily encouraged because it doesn’t line up perfectly with a resume that leads to a job. So I guess one of my passions is just being passionate about things without finding a place in my life that it’s practical for.
Trewartha-Weiner: I would say too, one thing that Alexa and I have in common and part of the the reason that, when this idea came to mind, I reached out specifically to her to start it with me is because we’re both passionate about other people’s passion. I at least feel that when other people tell me about what is exciting for them, it gets me excited and gets me so passionate about the fact that they’re so excited.
Sorenson: I think we try to box ourselves often – like “this is my image, and these are the three things that I’m passionate about”. I think that is denying our full capabilities, so we want to encourage people to not have to put themselves in a box.
Trewartha-Weiner: Especially at a liberal arts school, where I think, you know, we categorize everything. You have your STEM kids, you have your music kids, you have your art kids, and we know that people are dynamic and people can have interests in music and still be in the nursing school. We want people to feel like they have a place where they can express the passions that don’t fit into their box.
What do you see as the ideal impact of Passion Project?
Trewartha-Weiner: I want the entire campus to know about it and want to submit to it and to feel like it’s a space made for them. I want Passion Project to have no bounds, and that people feel like they can go on our website, and they can see themselves and they can contribute and feel comfortable and confident submitting.
Sorenson: I think for the broader impact, I also want – when we say out to the whole campus – I hope that not only people talk about Passion Project, like the publication, but talk about the ideas we’re trying to spread with it. Our campus is a place where you don’t have to be in the box of a STEM major. We really are not only in our education liberal arts, but also in our lives – like we like this and we like this – and we are just encouraging people to not box themselves and have that idea spread a little farther from the website.
The website will be launching soon, but in the meantime, Passion Project can be accessed on instagram at @stopassionproject. Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis. Sorenson and Trewartha-Weiner encourage students to submit any and all materials, even class projects, in order to get the website off the ground. So consider putting pen to paper, rummaging through old google docs and reconnecting with lost loves.