The Evolving Exponent Tree
If you read past Exponent II issues *really* thoroughly, you may have noticed the tree logo on the inside cover. This logo has changed a couple times during our 30+ year history. As I’ve looked at that changing tree, I’ve been thinking how these logos represent different periods of history and different focuses of the organization.
The original, very groovy 1970’s logo is a picture of the Tree of Knowledge (in case you aren’t sure it’s the Tree of Knowledge, it says “Knowledge” right on the trunk). This first logo emphasizes the pursuit of knowledge as being at the forefront of the paper’s mission. The founding mothers chose to pursue knowledge in a novel way, especially given Mormon culture. They sought to learn by sharing their personal experiences. This tree reminds me that of Eve’s courage, like EXII’s founding mothers, to push boundaries in order to grow.
Over time EXII’s community got bigger, and a new logo appeared with two Grecian women dancing under a tree. This came at a time when the paper was focusing on new ways to create a shared community that would offer a safe place for women to share their experiences, both joyous and painful–to dance under a tree that would shade and protect them.
Lately, we haven’t had a logo. This coincides with a period when Exponent II has had to make some hard decisions with the rising cost of publishing and a dwindling subscription base, which has caused us to question what our purpose should be now. So, I ask, What should Exponent II’s new tree look like? Could one help us to see where to go from here?
I like the symbolism in the logo we chose for Exponent II’s 30th anniversary.
One of our board members pointed out that this tree looks like an olive tree. I love this idea because the olive tree is a beautiful religious symbol.
The olive branch represents peace; I think this is meaningful symbol for a group, like EXII, whose very name can elicit strong negative reactions among some people. Over the past few years, our dedicated editor has worked to extend the olive branch of peace by making the paper more appealing to a wider Mormon audience. She’s done this by offering more writings on a variety of topics and lessened the number of controversial articles while still maintaining the integrity of EXII as a feminist paper.
I think this was an important step to take for a period of our history. I love the recent articles that I can use in my Sunday School lessons and quote in talks because they are meant to appeal to a wider audience. (And, I love the chance to cite from a Mormon feminist paper as my source.)
But, as we deal with a dwindling subscription base, I wonder if this current direction is introducing as many women as we hope to Exponent II. If this olive branch approach isn’t working anymore, what then?
The allegory of the olive trees in Jacob 5 and 6 has me thinking about where EXII could go next—we need to search the vineyard. In this allegory, the head of the vineyard has taken the branches bearing good fruit and grafted them to trees all over the vineyard. As the laborers nurture these trees, many thrive and bear good fruit. We know there are new topics, discussions, and controversies out there, but how do we gather these good fruits in the “nethermost regions?” Is this possible?
Or, am I totally off-base here? What are other ways we can “grow” Exponent II?