Community Service for 13 Years: Natural Awakenings Greater Hartford Seeks New Steward
When the first Natural Awakenings edition was published in Naples, Florida 27 years ago, it was to fill a specific community need. Founder Sharon Bruckman wanted to make it easier for people in her area to find information in one place about local farmers’ markets and healthy living activities and events. It may seem quaint in the post-Google era we’re in now, but Natural Awakenings was born from one woman’s honest desire to help people be informed and empowered. That mission has driven Nicole Miale’s leadership as publisher of the Fairfield County/Housatonic Valley edition for over seven years and the Greater Hartford/Tolland County edition for the past three years. We asked Miale about the role the magazine currently plays and what is next for the Greater Hartford edition.
How do you define the role of Natural Awakenings in the local community?
This magazine is an extension of the people in the community and a reflection of the interests and passions expressed there. The magazine is for, by and about the local community. Natural Awakenings continues to be a free community resource, supported 100% by members of the community and containing news and educational articles from many others. We connect people in the area who need and want help with people and products they think may help them. We work hard to be actively involved in the community: introducing new businesses, sponsoring events, having a visible presence at workshops and fairs; distributing the magazine anywhere that will have us. The more people who can find us, the more people we can help. That’s my job; to ensure the magazine is easy to find all over the broad area and packed with credible information people can use to improve their daily lives.
How long has the Greater Hartford edition been publishing?
I’m the third owner of this franchise; in October 2020 Natural Awakenings will have been publishing in Hartford County for 13 years. The magazine’s success in recent years has been gratifying for me and the team but is mostly a mirror for the limitless energy and ability of the people in the local community. It’s pretty phenomenal to appreciate that, in part because of their involvement with the magazine, many practitioners, businesses and enterprises first established themselves and have been thriving for years.
What is most rewarding to you about publishing Natural Awakenings?
The knowledge that information we provide has lasting value and, in some cases, life-altering meaning for so many people. When someone comes up to me at an event and says, “I love your magazine!” I say, “Thank you so much. Please tell me what you love about it and what we can do better.” I’m passionately concerned with the reader’s experience. The goal is to consistently create and put out a high-quality product that inspires, educates and informs on subjects that may be new to many. When I hear that faculty members at the Institute of Holistic Health Studies at WCSU have used some of the magazine’s articles as required reading for their modules, I know we’re doing something right. I am proud of the impact our collective work is having in the region.
What brought you to this work?
My passion for service is in my DNA. Compassion and concern for others were modeled for me by my parents whose vocations were fire chief and social worker. I’m a seeker by nature; no matter what job I’ve held I always strive to go beyond and make it better. I look for rough spots so I can help smooth them out and break new ground. I brought that “change for the better” mindset to my role as publisher by emphasizing development of credible independent content, and building mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations with community organizations. Empowering people to make positive change is rewarding. My ongoing challenge is to get more people involved in the magazine each month. I’m doing my readers a disservice if something innovative is happening in the area and I haven’t yet included it in the magazine.
What might surprise readers about you?
My deep fascination for the diverse subject matter we cover has surprised people over the years. At no time has publishing Natural Awakenings ever been ‘just’ a business for me; I’m passionate about the information in our pages. I am a certified energy practitioner myself (Reiki and 13th Octave/LaHoChi) and I hold a master’s degree in integrative health and healing in addition to my undergraduate journalism degree. I haven’t ever wanted the magazine to be about me; it turns me off when a publisher makes their magazine too much about their interests and ventures (I’m talking to you, Oprah!). My focus has consistently been on how I can support others and how I can, through the magazine, contribute to the overall health and growth of area communities and our global community.
What’s on the horizon for the magazine?
We’re obviously in the midst of extraordinary change on the planet and in our culture, on all levels, and Natural Awakenings is no exception when it comes to that wave. In the aftermath of the upheaval, new projects, businesses and enterprises will be forming, which will be thrilling to witness (some of it is already underway!). Exciting new digital partnerships are forming for the national franchise and those represent innovative opportunities for the local magazines and their constituents.
While I know the future of the magazine is bright, for a variety of reasons both personal and professional, now is the time for me to step away from publishing the Greater Hartford County, CT edition. I am making the franchise available for immediate sale; this July 2020 edition will be my last new issue as publisher.
Reaching this decision has been a long time coming and has not been easy. Forces beyond my control are steering the ship, which was difficult to accept because I truly love what I do and the people I work with. At the same time, I have become aware that it’s no longer a matter of choice; there are other things I’m being called to do now and personal health challenges that require much more of my attention. Taking over the magazine in 2017 was divinely guided; so too is this coming change. Because of that, I know there is someone ready and waiting for the opportunity to lead this edition into the future. They will have the chance to redefine its mission again, extend its reach even further using the new digital platforms, and create more community significance during the next chapter.
When I took over my first Natural Awakenings edition in 2013, I knew I was stepping into a role that would enable me to empower tens of thousands of people in their efforts to change and become better, happier versions of themselves. I didn’t realize until recently how profoundly doing this work has empowered and changed me as well. I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to serve so many. I look forward to passing the torch to the next lucky soul who gets to lead this community service.
For more information about the sale of Natural Awakenings Greater Hartford County, CT, contact Nicole Miale at 203-981-2451 or [email protected] See ad, page 5.