The day I interviewed for a job at Grit, I had one burning question. Sure, I had done some research and knew about the history of the brand and its historical and cultural significance, but I still hadn’t found an answer to what exactly the name, Grit, stood for: Was it an acronym for something, or did it stand for that ideal that we often hear about when people talk “grit and determination,” that resiliency of spirit and ability to look adversity in the eye and roll on?
As it turns out, no one can say for certain Dietrick Lamade’s or his colleagues’ inspiration for, or intended meaning of, the term when the brand was born in 1882, but when you look at the content of the publication through our history, it’s pretty clear that it has a lot to do with uplifting folks in difficult times, mental toughness, and spreading the message of how awesome life is, even when our individual circumstances might appear bleak.
To me, part of the reason we can sincerely say life is awesome when circumstances suggest otherwise is because somewhere in our nature — most of us, anyway — goodwill among our fellow man is an enduring instinct. That instinct seems even more tenacious amongst folks who live in the country, and oftentimes amongst neighbors in particular.
I have lived in the country more years of my life than not, and any time I’ve had the chance to help out a neighbor, something about that fulfills me in a way that few other things do. Whether mowing the ditch by the road of our shared driveway — hopefully more than half of the time — or cutting an extra load of firewood, helping corral horses, assisting in pulling out a stuck truck, looking for neighbors’ dogs in the middle of the night, whatever it is, spreading goodwill — loving our neighbors — is an important tenet to life out where the pavement ends. Otherwise, the lifestyle would be much more difficult. Our homesteading forefathers knew this lesson well, too.
If you’ve read Grit for any length of time, you’re used to seeing a different face here, a different beard. Worry not, Hank Will is still very much a part of our magazine, and in future issues we’ll carve out some space where you’ll hear from him regularly: Check the back page in the next issue. I’m thrilled to say that Hank is now the editorial director of Ogden Publications, so his reach will be more broad than ever before, and he’ll continue to help shape Grit’s editorial content moving forward. Some of my best days at work are spent in his office, sometimes getting a lesson in chemistry or biology, maybe even knife making or corn planting, but the best is when we’re trying to hash out the next great article for you all to read, enjoy, and hopefully use.
Presently, I’m interested to hear about how good your neighbors are, or maybe even what you’re trying to do to help your fellow man or woman next door — however far away they might be. Send me your story (firstname.lastname@example.org), with a photograph (300 dpi, jpeg) if you have it, and we might just put a few of them in a future issue of the magazine.
I can think of few things that would be as uplifting as hearing about the goodwill in the Grit community, and that’s been a part of our mission from the beginning, in 1882, until now.