The Way Forward

Digital Magazine #5

Contributors: TJ RinoskiJohn Schengber


We have a new vision and a new format for Skinny Dipper, and we want to share it with you. 


To walk you through our new vision for Skinny Dipper, let's start with a question.


Remember Highlights?

Yes, the kids magazine. You may remember seeing it in doctors’ offices or kindergarten classrooms.

Highlights catered to children and then fell off at age 13 or earlier. Nothing really took its place as young adult readers embarked upon the rest of their lives, nothing besides romantic partners, self-help books, alcohol, and therapy, that is. 

Yet with the level of distraction, loneliness, and digital addiction that modern humans are grappling with today, couldn’t there be — shouldn’t there be — a Highlights magazine for adults? 


It’s clear that some of us never quite grew out of kindergarten — let them fight in the sandbox, anyway — while the rest of us could surely use a refresher. This got us thinking — what if? 


So for the past two months, we’ve been exploring what it would mean to develop a magazine that acts as a companion for adults who are interested in cultivating a meaningful practice of living. This magazine would not only inspire and enlighten its readers via raw, authentic storytelling — our traditional modus operandi — but also empower readers via tools for reflection, mindfulness, and purpose-driven behaviors.

We see this as a new potential direction for Skinny Dipper. Imagine a workbook-style magazine designed for cultivating essential joy and wisdom in the modern world, arriving at your door every two months or so. Shorter than our usual 114-page tome — probably between 16 to 36 pages — and printed on a thinner paper that you can write on. 


Would you be interested to see Skinny Dipper take this form? Would you be interested in subscribing to Skinny Dipper so that you can have ongoing access to these stories and tools throughout the year?


As we go about brainstorming what it could look like and contain, we want to get your input. Here are some components we’re envisioning:


  • Mindfulness exercises 

  • Reflection questions and write-in space

  • Activities to help you connect with others

  • Writing, art, and craft prompts

  • Coloring book or tracing paper inserts

  • Reader-submitted letters and columns

  • QR codes linked to audiovisual extras

  • Tickets and invitations to live experiences with other readers

  • Marketplaces to support other artists and entrepreneurs




In the spreads below, you can see some initial blueprints of how these components would take shape.


As you look around, imagine getting something like this in the mail. What would you want to see? What would you want the magazine to include? How might a more frequent Skinny Dipper magazine help you to cultivate joy and wisdom in your life?

In this blueprint above, you can see the main feature is a story or an interview, per our usual content, but this time it's also paired with a QR code that you scan with your phone to get audio for the story. Then, at the end of the story is a reflection prompt that gets you thinking more deeply or more broadly about the story, and provides space to write down your thoughts. 

This is a mock-up of a mindfulness exercise. Meditation using sound is an interesting way to discover a sense of presence wherever you are, and this exercise would walk you through some preliminary steps and tips to get started. It would also include a QR code for guided audio, and another reflection prompt at the end. 

In this blueprint you get a sense of some additional workbook-style elements: writing, art, or community engagement prompts to spur your creativity.

Finally, this page details initial ideas for recurring columns that would feature reader-submitted content. 

Some of those column ideas include:

— Fuck Ups: stories of failure

— The Backyarder: lessons on citizen science and naturalism

— Postcards: highlights and tips from recent trips

— Heron Group: dispatches from environmentalism and climate movement

— Beyond Obituaries: reflections from those left behind

Remember, the idea is that the workbook elements outlined above would be woven into the traditional storytelling fabric of Skinny Dipper. Offered as a subscription — between 6 and 9 issues per year — we hope each magazine becomes a tangible, living record that's both a tool to be used and a treasure to be cherished.

What do you think? Does this resonate with you? Comment below or email us directly.

We’re moving fast to put these ideas into action and offer a subscription before the Holidays come around. If you want to learn more and get a sneak-peek, click the button below to receive a free care package in the mail! 

Skinny Dipper Magazine 
exists to catalyze self-discovery and human connection through storytelling.

Be bold and act like we’re invited, so that when they open those velvet barriers we walk right in with a nod. Lose sleep over the music we have forgotten, and leave if there is neither beauty nor sadness. Ask questions over dinner that require pencil and paper to answer. Print. Less screens and thicker calluses. Practice our dance while doing the dishes, and stay out there late. Unbutton around corners and fall off the bike, but stay on the ground and admire the mark we made on the street. Full burritos and well-worn maps. Wonder who designs salad dressing labels because we have some ideas. Load our words into a new canon, curse traffic, and show up unannounced because we know our friends. Get a double and see it twice. Fetishisize the past and be aliens together. Find a new way home. Kick ourselves for missing, clap for caring. Go wild with our look because we aren’t there yet. Speak with the flight attendants and hope that the runway below is full so that we can circle above the clouds at golden hour. Remember Ivan Ilyich and the favorite books of our friends. Tug hard on the tension between absolute narcissism and crippling self-doubt and find your dream in the middle. Push through and search abroad to see if this is there too. Go simple, go solo, go now. The world or nothing. Because if just one piece of this works, then this is forever.