The Operating Document (Version .5)

The current version of the Operating Document is 0.5. This means that the Operating Document is not yet complete.

What is The Kindling?

The Kindling is a web magazine published by Catholics in Phoenix, Arizona. The folks involved in publishing The Kindling are organized as a cooperative.

Being “organized as a cooperative” means that The Kindling is shaped and directed by everyone involved in the organization: Writers, Editors, Proofreaders, Publishing Techs, the Administrator, and anyone else volunteering to work on The Kindling.

The term "in Phoenix, Arizona" is intended to capture anyone living in the Phoenix-metro area (e.g., Mesa, Gilbert, Glendale, Surprise, etc.).

Motto

If a motto could capture the mission of The Kindling, it might be Cultivating the Catholic faith, the liberal arts, and the finer things in life.

Purpose

The Kindling exists for the following reasons:

  • The Joy of Craftsmanship: It is fun to make things. The Kindling gives its authors and editors the chance to make well-written articles and an enjoyable site for its readers.

  • Put Catholic Talent to Use: Phoenix has many talented Catholics. The Kindling is a place to collect and display their thought and work. It spurs those talented Catholics to articulate interesting thoughts and generate work that can be shared.

  • Foster the Catholic Social Scene in Phoenix: As an online magazine, The Kindling is an easily-accessible focal point for Catholic thought and activity in Phoenix. As a collaborative endeavor, The Kindling is a chance for its authors and editors to work together and, in working together, to develop the friendship of fellow craftsmen.

  • Provide a Forum for Civil Discussion and Debate: The Kindling gives its writers and readers a chance to develop ideas, share ideas, and critique ideas in a thoughtful and respectful way.

In one sense, The Kindling exists for its own sake as a work of art: it is produced out of the skill and delight of the writers, proofreaders, and editors.

In another sense, The Kindling exists for the sake of the community — both online and in-person — surrounding it.

The Kindling does not exist (1) to compete with any existing organization or publication, (2) to make money, or (3) advance an agenda or an ideology.

The Structure of the Operation

The Kindling operates as a cooperative adventure.

It’s an adventure, because it’s undertaken for the thrill of the journey and with an eye on high ideals. It’s not a business or a missionary endeavor.

It’s cooperative, because it’s directed and shaped by the work and decisions of those who work on it.

The Editors

The Kindling posts articles that are identified as belonging to certain categories (e.g., Poetry, Politics, Education, The Phoenix Scene, Church Affairs, etc.).

For each category, one person is designated as that category’s Editor. For example, Bob is the Editor for Church Affairs . As the Church Affairs Editor, Bob is the person at The Kindling who approves the posting of every article in the Church Affairs category. The Author of the article is ultimately responsible for the article’s content, but Bob is responsible for making sure that the article fits with the tone and character of The Kindling.

At The Kindling, every post goes a category (so that it's subject to an Editor's review) and only one category (so that it's one Editor's decision to publish or not, and not a decision requiring discussion or debate).

Editors at The Kindling are responsible for:

  • Reviewing submitted articles
  • Suggesting substantive revisions to articles
  • Coaching the Writer in how to improve the article
  • Allowing the article on the site or rejecting the article
  • Maintaining a shared list of article ideas for the assigned category

The Editors are answerable to one another. There is no Editor of Editors, or Super Editor, in the organization of The Kindling.

If an Editor is also serving as a Writer, and if the Editor wants to post something to his or her own category, then the Editor will have one other Editor look at the post before it goes onto the website.

The Writers

The Kindling has a staff of Writers who contribute regularly to the site.

Each Writer must commit to providing content either (a) every two weeks or (b) once a month.

Even though each article is approved for publication by an Editor, each Writer is ultimately responsible for the content and the tone of the individual article.

Note: A Writer is anyone who agrees to contribute regularly content for The Kindling. The term content includes not only blog posts, essays, and reviews (or any form of sentence—paragraph type writing), but also curated lists of links.

Proofreaders

The Kindling has Proofreaders. The Proofreaders help the Writers catch and fix errors in the article before it is published.

Each Writer will be assigned to one Proofreader. Each Proofreader will have assigned Writers.

Even though The Kindling is not produced by paid professionals, it nonetheless strives to maintain professional editing and publishing standards. The Kindling aims to publish content reasonably free of spelling and grammatical errors. The Kindling also aims to maintain a house style in keeping with respected publishing conventions (e.g., using the serial comma).

Publishing Techs

The Publishing Techs are responsible for translating the finalized text (i.e., the version approved for posting by an Editor) into a format for publication on the website.

The Publishing Tech also schedules the article to be posted on a specific date and time.

The Administrator

The Administrator is responsible for the infrastructure. The "infrastructure" includes the website mechanics, the channels of communication, and processes for making organizational decisions.

The Administrator is also responsible for keeping track of the personnel. That is, the Administrator maintains lists of who is volunteering for what: e.g., who is an Editor, for what category, who is the assigned Proofreader for which Writer.

The Administrator is responsible for making sure that a posting schedule is maintained.

In consultation with the Editors, the Administrator may (1) create other roles needed for the efficient administration of The Kindling’s operations and (2) recruit people to fill those roles.

Categories

The Kindling has the following categories:

  • Education
  • Books and Literature
  • The Phoenix Scene
  • Politics
  • Philosophy & Theology
  • Spiritual Reflections
  • Church Affairs
  • Mini Essays
  • Food and Drink
  • Movies & TV
  • Miscellaneous
  • Digital Life
  • Poetry
  • Music
  • Visual Arts

Categories can be added, removed, or altered by the Editors.

The Ethos

The Kindling operates on the following principles:

  • Justice — The Writers at The Kindling they have a strong sense that what they write and publish ought to be truthful and fair to all sides of an issue.
  • Charity — The Writers at The Kindling aim at building up rather than tearing down. Nevertheless, they understand that lies are lies, error is error, and love does not require acquiescing in a falsehood.
  • Reason — The Writers at The Kindling respect the mind's desire to know and the need to establish human life on a basis other than pure will, mere emotion, or arbitrary desire. They cultivate ratio and ὁ λογος.
  • Fidelity — The Faith is something to explore, to question, and to ponder. The Writers at The Kindling never write anything openly contradicting the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Receptivity to the Real — God is the Creator of all things and human knowledge begins in sense experience. If it exists, it is not off-limits as a subject at The Kindling.

6-Month Cycle and Jubilees

The Kindling operates in 6-month cycles. The 6 months of a cycle can be rough and approximate.

The Kindling asks its writers, proofreaders, editors, and publishing techs to serve for full 6-month terms. The Kindling asks those volunteers to not stop their volunteer service during that 6-month service.

The 6-month service period is meant to do three things:

  1. Give The Kindling some stability. The stability will allow The Kindling to generate content regularly.
  2. Give the volunteers a finite commitment. People are busy with family, Church, work, school, friends, hobbies, etc. People need to know that committing to working on The Kindling is not an infinite commitment.
  3. Build into the structure of The Kindling an opportunity to part ways amicably. The Kindling operates cooperatively, and its successful operation depends largely on the prudence, discretion, and good taste of its Writers and its Editors. Not everyone will always get along or agree. The 6-month period allows volunteers to know that they can walk away from something that they no longer like being part of.

At each 6-month turning point, The Kindling will host a Jubilee celebration. The Jubilee celebration will be a chance for all the volunteers to get together, talk in person, and enjoy some appropriate food and beverages in each others’ company (e.g., coffee and pastries if the Jubilee celebration is a breakfast-time event, wine and beer if it’s in the evening.

The Jubilee celebration is an important part of The Kindling’s operations because:

  • It gives the volunteers a chance to get to know each other, meet new recruits, and catch up.
  • It gives the volunteers to brainstorm ideas with others.
  • It is a chance to foster Catholic society in Phoenix.

Local but Universal

The Kindling is operated by Catholics living in Phoenix, Arizona. It is a local production. But it is also operates as a publication on a website — a medium that is inherently universal. The Kindling does not aim at appealing to or reaching anyone beyond Phoenix, but it understands that it may have such an appeal or reach. It does not shy away from that universality.

Policy on Pen Names

The Kindling recognizes that for various reasons — whether professional or personal — talented and energetic people may not volunteer as Writers if they must publish under their own names. The Kindling therefore allows Writers to publish under pen names.

But The Kindling requires its Editors to volunteer in their own names and to allow their names to be published on its site. Why? The Editors play a large role in shaping the content, the tone, and the direction of The Kindling. Knowing that the names of the Editors are public increases the sense of responsibility and accountability that ought to exist in the Editors and govern their decision-making.

The Process

  1. A Writer submits a draft to a Proofreader one week before the Writer’s scheduled posting date.
    • The draft is written in Markdown.
      • Markdown allows the Writer to include links and headings that can be recognized by software that publishes to the website.
    • The Writer has reviewed the draft for errors. The draft sent to the Proofreader represents the Writer’s best effort; it is not a slovenly last-minute mess.
    • The Writer identifies or includes any images that will accompany the article.
  2. The Proofreader reviews and revises the draft within 24 hours.
    • The Proofreader edits the draft for mechanical issues: grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
    • The Proofreader makes notes or proposals for anything that is unclear in the sense.
  3. After the Writer reviews the Proofreader’s edits, the Writer makes any additional changes the Writer wants.
  4. The Writer