Mat & Ren, Editors of Matters Journal
Mat & Ren
— Editors of Matters Journal
The socially-driven publication Matters Journal prioritises influential stories through the lens of business, social impact and sustainability. Covering stories from local people on arts and design through to environment and technology, Matters connects communities with the power of responsible business, the importance of personal impact and the need to live sustainably.
We sat down with editors Mat & Ren.
Where are you from and where do you now call home?
Mat: I grew up in Hawthorn but it’s Thornbury that I call home at the moment. I would say that the Abbotsford Convent, where our studio is located, is also like a home for me as well.
Ren: I grew up by the Yarra and I now live about 5 kilometres away by Merri Creek. I’m pretty adventurous.
With broad communications experience in editing and writing in the genres of lifestyle, international development and opinion, how did working at a socially-driven publication like Matters Journal come about?
Mat: I was working at another Melbourne-based publication and the very first issue of Matters (Mini-Matters) was delivered there so I tried to find out who was behind it. That’s how I found Pino (founder of Matters Journal and director of Local Peoples). They were originally looking for an editorial assistant and that conversation evolved a bit, into me coming on board as the digital editor.
Ren: My background is in writing, editing and project management, and my role at Matters is kind of a combination of all three. I’d worked with Megan, our excellent editor, at another publication and when she went on maternity leave (fun fact: she was openly pregnant when Matters hired her!) she suggested I get in touch.
Matters shares impactful stories through the lens of business, social impact and sustainability. Are these philosophies congruent with your own personal ethos? Have your feelings towards certain issues evolved during your time in this role?
Mat: Abso-bloody-lutely! That’s what I was interested in to begin with and what drew me to Matters. Matters has definitely become a platform for the entire editorial team to explore and delve deep into what it is we’re already into.
Ren: Yeah, of course! I’m constantly learning about cool projects people are working on with a focus on things like sustainability, community, health. What’s excellent about the Matters approach is that it’s optimistic – we tell stories about people doing good and making positive changes in the world. Matters is kind of an antidote to all the pessimistic and alarmist news we get bombarded with. So I guess I’ve learned to be more optimistic.
How do you feel towards the social and environmental state of the world and how does Melbourne compare?
Mat: I remain hopeful and quite optimistic about our ability to get the f*** off this planet and go to Mars... Just joking! I’d say it’s my duty to be optimistic. Matters covers stories about creating a positive future. I’m very hopeful about our ability to transition to a sustainable global economy and I’d say that working for a magazine that’s geared towards sustainability, it’s a challenge for us to persuade those who don’t see hope to be hopeful.
Ren: I’m heading to a forum on the possibility of settling on the Moon in a couple of weeks, but hopefully it won’t come to that. It’s easy to be cynical about the future but you’re ignoring all the important, hard work people are putting into sustainable and ethical projects. It’s important to remember not everything is effed! There are good people and good organisations out there making a real difference, especially in a pretty well-resourced, progressive city like Melbourne.
We expect that working at Matters exposes you to both inspiring but also hard facts about humanity (e.g. Alexander Bowden’s piece on the correlation between postcode and health). Do these sort of learnings change your perspective on work, people and life in general?
Mat: Definitely. I would add that if I was in a role, especially at a publication, that didn’t involve constant learnings that challenged my perspectives on work, people and life then I would probably consider moving on. I think it’s crucial that we continue to challenge our world views, I’d be pretty bored otherwise.
Ren: Oh, for sure, but the fact that we’re actually investigating those harder issues is reassuring.
What does community mean at Matters Journal & how do you incorporate sustainability into the workplace?
Mat: Local Peoples’ (the publisher of Matters Journal) mantra focuses on community, so community lies at the heart of the initial impulse to create Matters. The future that we imagine involves community at its heart – sustainability isn’t all about solar panels and hydro energy and shit; it’s about connection with people. In terms of how that manifests in the studio, we’re a really tight knit team that run our little studio like a second home. There ain’t no one wearing suits here, or using corporate jargon for that matter.
Ren: Community is everything to us! We’re forever reaching out to connect with local people, brands and businesses doing awesome things.
Do you have any personal practices (learnt or self-developed) that allow you to perform at your optimum each day and achieve equilibrium between work and life? As a thought leader, we’d love for you to share this wisdom with our readers looking to elevate their modus operandi…
Mat: Walking’s very important to me. I’m a big walker. I walked from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016. I like doing stuff that takes me outdoors, like walking and rock climbing. I try to get up early so I can have a slow morning – read the news, read a book. Magazines are actually good at slowing you down. They force you to consider – especially in the world of action, reading magazines like Matters really makes you stop and consider what makes the world good and why you’re actually waking up every morning.
Ren: The words “self care” get thrown around a lot and used to make me roll my eyes, but I’m learning self care is about more than getting a massage now and then. It’s looking after my skin, getting enough sleep, making sure I have time to see friends – all those things that can fall by the wayside when you’re busy. They seem small but when you’re neglecting them, you feel it.
Stemming from your own health and wellness philosophies, what do you believe we should all be doing a little more of everyday?
Mat: Smiling at the postman, saying thank you to the bus driver, waving at a baby, giving $5 to someone who needs $5. Think about what you believe in and go from there. That’s as simple as it is: be nice.
Ren: Morning: stretch. Evening: make sure you have a matching pair of socks ready for the next day. Weekend: read Matters Journal!
Could you recommend a publication, learning platform, class or the like which has been highly influential to your life?
Mat: Dumbo Feather – issue 53 ‘Embracing the Wild’ invited a small group to an urban rewilding workshop at Ceres with Claire Dunn. We got up super early, lit a fire, watched the sun rise and did some rewilding then ate breakfast together with some native ingredients. That was special. A thing Claire mentioned that I’ve been doing is find a “sit spot”, somewhere you can sit every day for like five minutes. I’ve been sitting in this spot in my backyard every day since late last year. I’ve watched my eggplants flower and fruit and the birds nest. It’s a great way to tap into what’s happening around you.
Ren: Yeah, Dumbo Feather is excellent! I’m also obsessed with Glom Press (an indie risograph printer and comics publisher from Melbourne), Fantagraphics and anything that’s ever been written about AI.
What mindfulness practices have you integrated into your life that may be effective for others pursuing an all-encompassing sense of wellbeing?
Mat: I did a Vipassana retreat in Nepal and I’d like to say that I’ve kept that up, but I don’t have a regular meditation or mindfulness practise. For me, it all boils down to being sensitive enough to notice physical sensations and how those sensations inform your mental state. I think having that knowledge has helped me a lot. Sometimes I struggle with being online quite a lot, as it’s my job, but that just means I need to make sure I’m balancing my days out with a solid chunk of screen-free time.
Ren: Put. Your. Phone. Down.
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