You might say that Megan Kimble was there before the beginning.
We first met over coffee at Exo on a late fall afternoon in 2012. Megan, then 26, was a graduate student at the UA, earning her MFA in creative nonfiction, and hard at work on the manuscript that would become her fabulous book, Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food, published by William Morrow/Harper Collins in the summer of 2015. My longtime friend Gary Nabhan, who was one of her thesis advisers, had recommended we meet, since he told me she shared our notion that Tucson needed a magazine that celebrated and explored what was happening in the region’s local food scene. I knew one thing with certainty after our meeting: If we were going to publish such a magazine, I wanted Megan on the team.
As we begin our fifth year of publication with this issue, Megan’s work as a journalist, editor, and local foods advocate during the last four years has contributed immeasurably to the deep sense of community connection that is, perhaps, the defining component of Tucson’s designation as the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States and this magazine’s mission.
Megan’s reporting and writing prowess, devotion to the craft of storytelling, and solid grasp of the context around issues related to food make her a great editor. As do her relationships with freelance contributors and her facility for managing the many editorial details that go into publishing an award-winning magazine every eight weeks. Megan has been a source of equanimity and good humor as we’ve grown from zero to 200 pages in the last 48 months. And after six years of living in this arid place, her roots are growing deep and wide like those of a desert ironwood tree.
She has won a slew of writing awards, her work has been selected for the national anthology Best Food Writing, and she is an accomplished speaker and educator. (And speaking of awards, Edible Baja Arizona just won 11 in June in the 2016 Arizona Press Club competition, shared by Megan and stellar regular contributors Debbie Weingarten and John Washington. Check our blog for details.)
And in case you were wondering, the only way we were able to sneak this tribute past Megan is that she left the country for two weeks right after we finished this issue, with this space as yet at unfilled at deadline.
Thanks for everything, Megan. Onward!
You may have seen the reports in mid-June of a high profile Border Patrol raid at a No More Deaths/No Más Muertes camp that resulted in the arrest of four migrants who were being assisted by the Tucson-based humanitarian organization. Known as Byrd Camp, the site has been located since 2004 on the property of beloved Baja Arizona author Byrd Baylor. In her 93 years, Baylor has written nearly 30 books for children that evoke the magic and wonder of the desert. Debbie Weingarten’s wonderful profile of the iconic author, who wrote many of her books from her adobe home near Arivaca “on a manual typewriter surrounded by the desert, or perched in an arroyo, writing longhand on a yellow legal pad” takes you into Byrd’s world.
For decades, the stretch of road on Tucson’s south side known as La Doce—the South 12th Avenue Corridor that runs from 44th Street to Drexel—has been a vital locus for the thousands of people who make their lives there. “To outsiders,” writes John Washington in his excellent story about the neighborhood and its central corridor, “the perfunctory view misses the glue that makes a neighborhood a neighborhood. The glue is community, and community sticks more durably when it is faced with adversity and well fed. La Doce has long faced various fronts of adversity and it is certainly well fed …. It is tempting to write that La Doce is coming into its own, but the area has long been its own: boasting a distinctive, resilient, delicious, and vibrant hub of culture and food.”
As always, there is a banquet of delicious and diverse content to discover in these pages. We’ll see you around the table.
—Douglas Biggers, editor and publisher