Spotlight GIVE is a new series highlighting some of the people who make Orion possible through their donations.
Name: Mary Ann Hoyt
Hometown: Williamsburg, Massachusetts
Reader Since: 2001
Mary Ann Hoyt has been a loyal Orion reader for nearly twenty years. A lifelong lover of the outdoors, Mary is also a food justice advocate, volunteer, and retired after working with her husband in wholesale distribution.
What was your first interaction with Orion?
“I can’t remember the exact moment I first read Orion but it was love at first sight. Now I really can’t open the magazine without wanting to read the whole thing.”
What drew you to it initially?
“What I was most interested in was the magazine’s sense of place. In my own life I find myself moving around a lot, so I can easily appreciate the sense of place through remembering the evocative way writers use words.”
Do you prefer Orion’s words or its art and photography?
“Both. I love them both equally. Also, I just can’t let go of any of the issues. Have ‘em stacked up. We sometimes even use some of them as art. They’re just gorgeous.”
“Just to see any issue—it fills my heart. It fills my mind.
It’s a gift every time it comes in the mail.”
Orion’s secret sauce is?
“The touch. When it’s in your lap, you just feel a part of it. I’ll often read it at the coffee shop or on the airplane; that’s where I do most of my reading. I was out having lunch the other day and brought my Orion with me.”
Okay, real talk: Do you think Orion is “preaching to the choir?”
“I have a brother in upstate New York who is an avid hunter, and he would definitely appreciate Orion. I don’t think he would view it as outside his purview. That’s what I think makes Orion feel so real. It’s not click-bait. It doesn’t just gloss over issues that everyone else is talking about.”
How has Orion evolved for you as a reader over time?
“The gifts I find in Orion have changed just as my life changed. When I was working full-time on our business I probably wasn’t looking at the same articles I look at today. Sometimes I just couldn’t make the space. Now I can take time, find out what is being said, and work with it. Also, it always feels good to have shared several gift subscriptions with friends.”
But life can feel so overwhelming. How has Orion met you?
“Today’s issues can sometimes just feel too much to bear. I mean, I’ve done various things in my life. I worked at the food co-op for many years, so food justice was important in my life, nutrition, food as valuable commodity. Orion’s focus on food met me during that time, for example.”
How balanced do you find magazine’s content?
“With Orion you know you’re going to have a little bit of everything, like a balanced meal: you’ve got your appetizers (Community, Lay of the Land), your soup (Photo Essays, Interviews), your salad (Poetry, Reviews), your entrée (Features), and dessert at the end (Coda, Enumerations). But you can’t have all dessert all the time, nor do you only want just the entrée. Balance, you see.
With a Lay of the Land you can be enriched immediately, understand the gravity of something, and be able to weave it your life. The other day I was chuckling out loud at the restaurant at that owl piece. I was just beaming at the café.”
“I want to support things that I think are also supporting that depth in me.
Orion is one of those things.”
What compelled you to start giving to Orion?
“I’ll be honest. It was a long time before I could afford to give. But when I could I freely did it. I don’t come from a background of wealth, and I don’t take it lightly. My family and I value certain things: good education, good food, good family, and good friends. I want to support things that I think are also supporting that depth in me. Orion is one of those things. I deeply understand and champion what you do. Devotion. Passion. That’s what I care about most and that’s what I want to support.
I’m 150 percent convinced that what Orion is doing is a major thing. Just to see any issue—it fills my heart. It fills my mind. It’s beautiful and I know that everyone behind its production understands its contribution. It’s a gift every time it comes in the mail.”
What would you like to see more of in the magazine?
“There’s a lot of scary stuff out there; so many heavy things. Climate change. Extinction. We have these core issues thrust upon us every day. How, I wonder, might we approach them from new, creative angles, through a sort of hopeful new side door? What’s that new door? Usually, I find it’s just a matter of first opening up a new door inside yourself.”
You seem to be a person of action.
“Yes, and that’s what I think is the major thing I feel with Orion, the genuine action. It’s beautiful. It’s thought-provoking. It’s real. Look, I don’t take any of the magazine lightly—I want to do something with it.” O
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