Craig Williams

I am a big believer in the transformative value of our stories, individually and collectively. They bind us together— one to another— in ways that can help to inspire, heal, celebrate, and reach across our differences. But I’m a particular fan of the stories behind our kids, their teachers, and those with whom we’ve shared a mascot or two. Those kinds of stories have the power to transform question marks into exclamation points, doubt into confidence, and disengagement into engaged possibility thinking.

From the Publisher
To a person, I have heard from everyone featured in this issue that Vandalia is a place where folks look after one another, where hard work is a commonly held virtue, and where, ultimately, decency reigns.

Growing up in my corner of small-town Southern Illinois, we had our stories, too. Some of them moved from one side of town to the other in less time than it takes to flush a toilet. (Yes, that was deliberate.) Others— often quite positive— it seemed, didn’t see the light of day until someone was long gone. But that left a whole lot of stuff in the middle to bounce around town like a bad version of the classic childhood game, telephone. And if I’ve noticed anything about town stories, it is this: there is a clear correlation between their conductivity and their negativity. 

All of this led, somewhat circuitously, to my reason for launching Journey12, and for publishing the magazine you’re reading right now. It is simply this: There are far more positive stories holed-up in our communities’ classrooms, libraries, training gyms, and workplaces than you can shake a stick at. I wanted to tell THOSE stories; to take THEM out for a spin. And, for the last 4-months, since I’ve been meeting, chatting with, and interviewing folks right here in Vandalia, that belief has been confirmed, and then some. To a person, I have heard from everyone featured in this issue that Vandalia is a place where folks look after one another, where hard work is a commonly held virtue, and where, ultimately, decency reigns. Truth be told, between my eavesdropping and the prodigious Horseshoe plate I had for lunch back in April, I had that figured out 15-minutes after my first visit to The Copper Penny.

Anyway, you’ve got an impressive community in Vandalia, and so many wonderful stories to share. I hope that you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I’m enjoying telling them.