Magazine Review: "Verge"

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Verge is a travel magazine, but one with a difference - it's subtitled "Travel with Purpose", and the blurb on their website says: "Each issue takes you around the world, with people who are doing something different and making a difference doing it. This is the magazine resource for those wanting to volunteer, work, study or adventure overseas." I've had a chance to look over 3 issues, which is 3/4 of Verge's yearly output - they only publish issues in February, May, September and November. In all cases I've found the magazine to be interesting, informative and a bit inspiring. As an added bonus, Verge is Canadian - their senior staffers are from Waterloo, Edmonton and Kapuskasing. Also, their web address ends in a comforting ".ca".

Verge's goal is to highlight ways of traveling "with purpose" - not just heading to a remote location to soak up the sun, snap a few pictures and buy a souvenir. Many of the articles in the magazine are about people in other countries who are contributing to the communities they visit in some way. I've read pieces about a Winnipeg lawyer working in a community legal clinic in a small Guatemala town, a documentary filmmaker trying to produce video shorts about Rwanda's recovery after the genocide, and about the New Zealand Department of Conservation's efforts to revive the native bird population, with the help of visiting volunteers.

Even the short "Inbound" section at the beginning of each issue has a conscience - the image on the right is a look at one of the pieces from there.

The magazine is not all save-the-whales / dig-a-well-for-just-pennies-a-day kind of stuff, but even the articles about less altruistic topics seem a bit different. I really enjoyed one feature about "Car-free Islands" - a rundown of eight different small islands around the world that have banned most or all motorized vehicles. And the issue pictured above (Summer 2008) had a "Best of our Planet" feature including Best Adventures, Best International Music, Best Wildlife Viewing, Best Remote Destinations, Best Landscapes, and Best World Culture. It's a great spread that's should be enough to get the blood boiling in all but the most determined home-body.

The other two issues I've read also have big "theme" features, one showcasing the winners of a reader-submitted travel photography contest, and one listing "hundreds of opportunities for meaningful travel". There are also regular pieces from a Toronto doctor about travel health, a "Specialists' Directory" near the back listing details on study, volunteer and work programs abroad, and a recently introduced "Ethical Traveler" column.

Even the advertising in the magazine is interesting - most of the big colour ads are for study abroad programs, or Teaching English as a Foreign Language jobs, or volunteer opportunities.

In fact, after reading a few issues of Verge I'm seriously considering seeking out some kind of volunteer work somewhere in my travels. More on that in a later post, but for now I'll just say that I'd probably subscribe to Verge ($18 CDN for 4 issues per year), except that pretty soon I won't have a mailbox anymore.


Ian Timshel said...

What a wonderful way to meet the local flavours! All I can think about is all the wonderful meals you'll have!

Heather Moore said...

This looks like a fantastic magazine! Thanks for the review.

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