When February comes around, supermarkets fill with gaudy hearts, pink balloons, and mediocre flower arrangements that are somehow supposed to declare love. While these seasonal treats can be fun, they certainly don’t make healthy relationships go ’round.
In honor of St. Valentine, we here at Groundwork! are celebrating all relationships. While our Groundworker at Large Steven Froias is looking outside Groundwork’s doors and into the city, I’m looking at some of our members who belong to thriving teams.
South Coast Almanac is a annual publication celebrating all things on the South Coast. We’ve been fortunate to know their team through Marlissa Briggett, who has been a Groundwork! member since the early days. In this interview, Marlissa shares the story behind the South Coast Almanac and their best practices for communication, celebration, and resolving disagreements.
(Spoiler alert: Much of Marlissa’s advice can be applied to your romantic relationships too.)
Describe South Coast Almanac in a couple of sentences.
We work to celebrate the richness of living in (and visiting) the South Coast through stories and photographs that highlight the people, places, things and quirky wonderfulness of this special place.
How did your team come together?
As a longtime freelance writer, I wanted to see what it would be like if the creative folks — the ones who really cared about content — ran the show at a publication. I called up my former editor Scott Lajoie who had been the longtime editor of Cape Cod Magazine (but was no longer there). We reached out to Alison Caron to join in as she had been his art director at Cape Cod Magazine. Rebecca Hemsley was a friend and Onset neighbor who, despite having no experience in sales, bravely jumped in to help with advertising sales along with content and story ideas.
This year, we’re thrilled to have Hannah Haines as the art director for our first ever Holiday issue. How we found Hannah is a good story. I was walking by Medium Studio on Bethel Street and I was intrigued by the storefront. The door was unlocked so I just walked in and went up to the studio. I LOVED the space. And I thought anyone who worked in such a space must be someone we’d want on the team. I met and talked with Hannah and here we are. And it’s true. She IS someone we want on the team!
Five years ago, my daughter Shea did a semester in high school called CityTerm which was experiential based learning where New York City is your classroom. My big takeaway when I went to their closing ceremony is that, in that semester, the kids learned to try doors and open them up (literally) whether it was a temple on the Lower East Side or a Halal poultry shop in Astoria.
So much comes from simply opening a door. I’ve taken it to heart.
I love that that’s how we found Hannah.
What does your team do to keep communication flowing?
We meet face-to-face regularly. We also use email/telephone and occasionally have conference calls where we share computer screens so we can present what we’re working on.
How do you have fun and celebrate successes?
Our biggest celebration is the launch party when the May issue comes out. It’s a night to celebrate with EVERYONE who made the issue happen. Good food, drinks and music. And a great setting! On a more regular basis, I try to bring food to our meetings. Different kinds of food from favorite places on the South Coast: dnb Burgers; Dorothy Cox chocolates; The Baker New Bedford donuts. That always livens up a meeting.
Have you ever fundamentally disagreed on something important? How did you resolve it?
We just keep talking about it. Sometimes we change each other’s minds. Sometimes not.
What is your favorite part of working in your team?
What advice would you give to others about partnerships and team work?
Don’t let things fester. Talk it through. A team can be like a family so there is a tendency to let slights/resentments build up. Don’t let that happen. Just calmly put it out there when you’re not happy about something. It may not change things, but it will avoid the accumulation of quiet negativity which kills things.