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  • Writer's pictureLauren

End of an Era

As the Mona project draws to a close after a three year journey, each of the women behind the magazine, blog, events and workshops reflect on what Mona has meant to them and which parts of this movement they will take with them. Mona's legacy will reside in the scholarships being administered by our regional arts organisations in rural locations where we have held workshops or had considerable support from local organisations.

From our Crone and Mentor, Jan

I have only been part of the Mona Team for the past 12 months, although I had been a keen supporter of the Mona Magazine, workshops and blogs before joining as the Mona Crone/Mentor.

I have really loved my time with this group of committed and passionate feminists,

who have planted the seeds for the growth of rural and regional women’s writing. I have experienced sisterhood with these amazing women, something to be cherished.

It is very hard to be at the end of this part of the journey, and we are all feeling

various degrees of grief. However there is a time for all things; endings are hard, but

with the endings in our lives there is space for new unfoldings. Feeling the grief and

allowing it to be, is part of the deep process of being. From the death of all things

comes new life.

In this time of great uncertainty, I encourage all Mona women to continue to write and share wherever you are inspired to write. Our women’s voices are crucial, loud and clear, to restore balance to our fractured world.

From our Non-fiction Editor (and all-round multi-tasker), Oumi

Walking into that room of wonderful, local women three years ago, I didn't know how much I needed something like Mona in my life. Through it, I was able to explore writing, stories, and the female experience in an open, welcoming, and inspiring way. I've been able to connect with so many amazing women, some of whom have become great friends.

My first piece, Running out of Breath, from Issue 01 was cathartic and not really written to BE anything. Since then, I've written two articles for the Mona blog and attempted a poem in Issue 03! These are things I would never have done, at least not openly with my own name. Why? Scared of being judged, of being disliked, of not delivering a perfect piece of literature? Reasons that I've learned are common amongst regional women. Resigned to limits set by our families, friends, communities, and worst of all - by ourselves. But it doesn't need to be that way.

Three experiences with Mona Magazine that I'll remember for years to come:

  • Youth Workshop - In 2021, I enlisted the help of the Mona team to deliver creative writing workshops to high school students for Youth Week. Discussions around language, perceptions, and stereotypes helped the young people think about what we think makes us men, and makes us women.

  • Griffith Workshop 2021 - A room full of women of all ages and stages. Discussions got heavy, they were funny, reflective, and inspiring. We also got to do some Blackout Poetry which I recommend EVERYONE try - taking a random page from a text and you circle/highlight or draw around words that then form a short piece of writing. These kinds of exercises are such great prompts to just start... something.

  • Layout day for Issue 03 - Seeing everything come together and become what is now the final issue was amazing - stories we had each worked on fitting together like a patchwork quilt. We all stepped back and I just thought... Wow.

From our Founder and Artistic Editor, Kimmy

Mona has been one of the best things to happen in my life. I can rave on and on about how much it changed my life for the better. I’ve been a part of the workshops and learned more about life and grown in ways that I never expected.

But, let’s also be real. With the good always comes the challenges. The hours that go into preparing, collating and designing are way too many hours to be said aloud. The late nights I’ve cried in front of my computer, realising I’ve bitten off more than I can handle. The strain that it has put on my relationships and my friendships because I couldn't meet deadlines. The self-doubting of my abilities and worthiness. I know that it may seen dark, but it's honest.

I share this with you, as I have had the honour of being a part of a community of women that have shared some of their brightest, hardest, and most vulnerable and personal moments of their lives with me. Their sharing has helped me grow and understand myself more than I can ever express.

The magazine has pushed me to strive for things that I never thought I was capable of. Thank you for everyone in the Mona community for trusting and believing in me. Especially my closest friends, Lauren and Kat, who have been two of the most instrumental people in my life to date; your passion, support and drive inspires me every day. I’m so proud of what we have created together.

Note to past Kimmy (and all of us, really!): Just remember to back yourself – you got this!

From our Founder and Strategy and Partnerships Director, Kat

"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly."

These are the words that have spurred me on through overwhelming imposter syndrome and the fundamental reality that I had zero experience of running a magazine prior to Mona. There are many things I would do better looking back from the privileged position of experience. But I am so proud of what our little magazine achieved with the resources we had.

As I write this I am still feeling the disappointment and sorrow for a failed Voice to Parliament referendum, the greatest number of NO as opposed to YES votes in country electorates. A solemn demonstration of how fear rots our potential to dream, love, and listen to one another. A reminder of the importance of sharing our stories, and how crucial it is to continue to strive for a deep understanding of one another's lived experiences, most importantly, those of the First Nations peoples of these lands that our ancestors colonised and settled on.

I fear what this means now for the future of our little towns, and our country.

Rural Australia can feel like a heaven and a hell all in one day for country people and I am so proud that Mona made a space for the complexity of experiences and stories from these communities, even if for just a short time. Thank you to all our contributors and collaborators over the past three years. Working with you all has taught me so much.

I am forever thankful to the women who worked with me. To Lauren, Kim, Oumi, and Jan. Thank you for the hours of car rides, meetings around my kitchen table, standing at stalls on freezing mornings and sweltering afternoons. Thank you for your courage and love to want more opportunities for creative expression for women and non binary writers, and for building awareness and action around gender inequality in rural and regional Australia.

From our Founder and Editor in Chief, Lauren

I've been through many phases in my own exploration of feminism since I was a child, and Mona enabled me to embrace all of its wonderful parts - supporting other women and gender diverse individuals in their self-discovery and creative quests, being part of a larger movement and critically questioning our social systems and structures. Mona has enabled me to channel the feminist anger that burnt inside me for decades into initiatives that have helped and empowered other women.

Women and minority groups in rural communities need movements like this more than ever to bring them together and remind them that their stories are just as valid a part of the Australian narrative as any of the other experiences that have dominated the media landscape for over 200 years. Just because we no longer have the resources to keep Mona going, doesn't mean this cause isn't an important one that we hope others in the community will continue to champion.

A very big thank you to the writers and participants who trusted us with their experiences, to those who believed in what we were doing and shared our vision with their communities, and to the organisations that used their clout to make space for us. The fact that there are too many of you to name individually is testament to the way we have been welcomed by you all.

The greatest honour by far, though, has been to work beside four of the most simultaneously dazzling and gritty women I could find. It's not every day that you get the chance to build a media empire with your best friends, and it will be pretty special to look back on this time and remember that in her day, Mona was mighty.

All images featured in this blog post remain the intellectual property of Mona Magazine.

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