10 Years of Exponent: If You Build It, They Will Come
This month’s retrospective comes from Deborah.
In spring 2005, I had a dream.
I was sitting in sacrament meeting, and the man behind the pulpit was making spiteful comments, and no one was stopping him. I stood up to say something, but when I opened my mouth, I couldn’t make a sound. I had no voice.
I woke up shaking.
That summer, while slicing vegetables for a beach sunset meal, Aimee Hickman and I began to talk about the new “bloggernacle” – then just a handful of LDS blogs engaging in heady conversations.
At that time, most of the blogs were overwhelmingly written (and commented on) by men, with the exception of an exciting new face in town: Feminist Mormon Housewives.
“This is the direction Exponent needs to go,” Aimee and I told each other.
After thirty years in print, Exponent II subscriptions were waning and editors were (understandably) exhausted. Aimee and Emily Clyde Curtis would later stage a remarkable print revival, but at that moment, we knew that creating a interactive online presence was vital to drawing in new voices — and sustaining old ones.
We wanted to build upon what Exponent has always done so well: providing a safe space for women’s stories. A welcoming watering hole that says, “Come on over and take a drink. Stay a while to talk.”
A few months later — with start-up elbow grease from Jana, Caroline, Emily, and Sandra – the Exponent blog was born. And it didn’t take long for readers to find us.
We wrote about doctrine, culture, policies, and practices. We shared funny stories, painful stories, and delicious recipes. We began to create weekly Relief Society lesson plans – an ongoing project that has brought thousands of visitors to our site each week. In different seasons, we have offered Activities Days lessons, Young Women’s lessons, and Sunday School lessons. We have posted hundreds of guests posts through the years from women who had something to say and wanted a place to say it. And more recently, we have begun to translate popular posts into French and Spanish to reach the global sisterhood.
I wrote dozens of posts between 2006 and 2013, but there were exactly two occasions where I felt the need to stand up and say something (see here and here). And instead of finding myself voiceless, I found myself heard. And for that, I thank my sisters and this beautiful place we have created for one another.