About 40 friends and followers of NEED Magazine packed The Beat Coffeehouse Wednesday night to hear some of the magazine's writers -- and a local Kenyan profiled in its premiere issue -- talk about their experiences in an effort to raise awareness about the magazine and its mission. It was the third such local gathering promoted on Facebook and Twitter by NEED, an award-winning publication run with a lot of heart on a shoestring budget out of offices in Northeast Minneapolis.
As a slideshow played overhead Wednesday night, Timon Bondo, founder of the Rabondo Community Project USA, held the room silent as he described his journey from the tiny Kenyan farming community where he grew up, to Minnesota where he established his non-profit to bring education and hope to children trapped by poverty and AIDS in his homeland. Writer Kyra Gibson told heartwrenching yet uplifting stories from the six weeks she spent reporting in Nepal on the plight of children trafficked into India, and the success of the Peace Rehabilitation Center in Kathmandu in getting them off the streets.
NEED's first Facebook foray came in June, when it posted an invitation to a meet and greet at Spill The Wine on Washington Avenue without knowing if anyone would show up. Between 30-40 folks filled the front room, to the staff's surprised delight. A Facebook invite earlier this month brought a full house to The Beat to hear staff writer Adam Hanson and photographer Steve Floyd talk about a recent story on solutions to street violence in Oakland, Calif.
Writer Lauren Fischer said social media is "a new focus" for the magazine. While the small staff publishes the rag, its pages on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Vimeo and Current allow its writers and editors to establish welcome connections with readers, supporters and like-minded organizations all over the world. They're even asking readers on Facebook to help choose a new cover story.