UTGT_Cover01Welcome to the premiere issue of this digital, literary micro-magazine. What you hold in your hands—er, what you see on your screen—is the culmination of the strengths and interests of those who have given their time, energy and talent to participate in Under the Gum Tree. To those people—you’ll see their names on the masthead—I’m incredibly grateful.

So, what exactly is a Gum Tree? And why are we under it? There is a story behind the name, one you can read about in the piece appropriately titled “The Gum Tree.” (Read it by getting a complimentary copy of the premiere issue.) But ultimately The Gum Tree will be something different for everyone, and as this project grows and changes with the contributions of others, we hope to see The Gum Tree grow and change as well.

Under the Gum Tree is a nonfiction storytelling project. The concept was born out of my desire to live more vulnerably, more authentically and to help others do the same. To me, that means sharing the hard stories: the ones we’re ashamed of, embarrassed of, the ones we usually try to keep hidden. Those stories don’t always have to be as serious as something like the death of a loved one, as you’ll see in one of our feature stories this issue, “Two Porches,” but they often are.

Regardless of the story, the purpose is to provide an outlet for sharing stories that we often ignore or pretend didn’t happen. Instead, Under the Gum Tree advocates embracing those stories as part of what makes us who we are; the more of us who can do that, the more honestly we can share our lives with each other. What better way to come to terms with those pieces of ourselves than to write about them and let others, strangers, read them?

If you enjoy what you read here, I will ask one favor: please share this issue with someone you know who would also enjoy and benefit from being Under the Gum Tree.

Here’s to telling stories without shame,

Janna Marlies Santoro

Editor & Publisher

Note: this is my editor’s letter from the Premiere Issue of Under the Gum Tree. Read my other editor’s letters here.

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