Natural Awakenings: Serving the Community for Nearly 15 Years: Fairfield County Seeks New Steward
When the first Natural Awakenings edition was published in Naples, Florida, 25 years ago this month, 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. This 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. That mission is what has informed Nicole Miale’s leadership as publisher of the Fairfield County/Housatonic Valley edition during the past five and a half years. In this Spirit of Community edition, we asked Miale about the role the magazine currently plays and what is next for this 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 at more than a thousand local businesses. 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 information people can use to improve their daily lives.
How long has the Fairfield County/Housatonic Valley edition been publishing?
I’m the third owner of this franchise; Natural Awakenings will have been publishing in Fairfield County for 15 years in June 2019. It is the oldest Natural Awakenings franchise in the Northeast and for the past five years has consistently been one of the largest franchises in the country. The magazine’s success in recent years has been gratifying for me and the team but mostly it is 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, “Great! Thank you. Please tell me what you love about it and tell me what we can do better.” I am 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 that our collective work is having.
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. I’m a seeker by nature; no matter what job I held before—writing, publishing, sales, and education—I tried to go beyond and make it better. I looked for rough spots so I could help smooth them out and break new ground. I brought that “change for the better” mindset to my role as publisher by creating new editorial sections, and building partnerships and collaborations with other 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 feel like 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 wanted the magazine to be about me. It turns me off when a publisher makes their magazine too much about their interests and ventures (yes, I’m talking to you, Oprah!). My focus has been on how I can support others and how I can, through the magazine, contribute to the overall health and growth of the communities in the area.
What’s on the horizon for the magazine in 2019?
We’re on the verge of a big change in the coming year. For a variety of reasons, I have decided the time has come for me to step away from publishing the Fairfield County/Housatonic Valley, CT edition. I am now making the franchise available for sale. Reaching this decision has been a long time coming. It has not been easy because I truly love what I do and the people I work with. At the same time, there are other things I’m being called to do now. The clarion call of those initiatives is becoming too loud to ignore. Taking over the magazine in 2013 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 and build more community significance for the next chapter.
Will you be running the magazine until that new leader appears?
Yes, absolutely. I’m not going anywhere until the magazine has competent new hands on the reins! Until then, I look forward to continuing the work of supporting the diverse and dynamic communities of Fairfield and southern Litchfield Counties. I will continue to provide intentional leadership for the collaborators, readers and advertisers I am so grateful to work with each month.
When I took over the magazine 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 held this role and had the opportunity to serve so many.
For more information about the sale of Natural Awakenings Fairfield County/Housatonic Valley, CT, contact Nicole Miale at 203-885-4674 or [email protected]. See ad, page 37.