AGENCY turns one

Friday, January 22, 2021

AGENCY turns one

By Raven Yamamoto

On Jan. 22, the editors of AGENCY met for the first time. Some of us didn’t know each other previously, others did. We all met over coffee at the Den, which feels so strange to say now, and introduced ourselves over caffeinated drinks. I remember ordering a warm mint mocha with oat milk and sitting at a table across from four other people who were all curious to know what “the plan” was. 

I didn’t have one. 

All I had was an idea. As we each added a piece of ourselves to the project, it became something greater than we could have ever imagined, a journey that would prove to be difficult, but worth every moment. 

I don’t usually center my own voice when it comes to any outward communication from AGENCY. I try to quietly write articles and make podcasts and let others shine because I’ve always seen AGENCY as a collective voice rather than mine or anyone else’s alone. But today I feel the need to speak to our readers directly in a way that I hope feels sincere. 

Today, AGENCY is celebrating its one-year anniversary. Our first birthday, if you will. Without any kind of institutional funding or backing, we somehow managed to survive for an entire trip around the sun, and cultivate a small but fierce team of reporters, writers, videographers, photographers, editors, and podcasters. It’s been a labor of love, but a fruitful one to say the least. 

I’m confident that each of us can say that we’ve poured countless hours into AGENCY, many of which have gone uncompensated, and put our all into making the platform you see today. But I want to tell you all a little more about the people behind the scenes while I share my thanks for each and every one of them that has been with us up until today.

I started AGENCY with the help of some of the best people I know. 

I met Megan when I was in my first year of college, when I didn’t know who I was. But she accepted me anyway. She was everything I wanted to be and still is. Yem was the cool kid in class I didn’t think I’d ever have a shot at being friends with. But when she told me she wanted to help out with that “little publication” I had in the works, everything changed. Kellie became my little when she joined our service organization and we’ve been inseparable since. It’s been an honor to see her grow and want to be a part of something I created. Robyn, my work spouse, has been by my side from the moment we met, when we used to work at another newspaper that won’t be named. He was my section editor and I was his trusty assistant that made plenty—and I mean plenty—of mistakes. Robyn forgave me every time. And Lauree Anne was my first friend at LMU. Her roommate recognized me from orientation and introduced us to each other because we’re both from Hawai’i. It was friendship at first sight. We have the Bluff sunset photos to prove it. 

I asked each of them to help take the lead on this project because they each had one thing in common: heart. I knew that when each of them put their minds to something, they went after it with everything they had. They were also all very different from one another both in lived experiences and interests. But whatever they decided to do in life, they did it well. Whether it was writing, organizational skill, artistry, management, or just being a team player—they were the best of the best. Even if I only got one of them to join me, the project would have a shot at success. With all of them on board, I knew we’d make it. 

The incredible team that you all see in our bylines today came after weeks of begging people to take a chance on us when all we had was an Instagram story flyer we made on Canva. They believed in our mission, and for that, I’m truly thankful.

Clara, our amazing video department director. Nick and Simone, the hosts of our newest podcast that they started all on their own. Christina, a fiction-writer-turned-reporter. Jenica, Daisy, and Autumn, who make our articles look good (literally). Danica, the only person I know who’s as crazy as I am for news. Isa, who writes in a way that commands attention without fail every time. Jolie, an unstoppable force of nature that can seemingly do anything and everything. Erica, a fearless advocate for accessibility. Harrison, our deputy copy editor and occasional op-ed writer (if the stars align). And Ray, who does math for those of us who can’t. 

Somewhere along the line, we also snagged the two coolest advisors in the world: Tara and Lalo, who believed in us when no one else did. They’re the coolest parents you could ever ask for. So cool, in fact, that they hang out with us in our Discord server. 

Without any of these people, AGENCY wouldn’t be what it is today. 

But without any of you, we wouldn’t exist. Our following means a lot to us, especially our Patreon subscribers that have invested in us monetarily. Both forms of support have allowed us to continue the work we do for as long as we have, and it’s still beyond me that people are so supportive of our work when we started with next to nothing. 

I googled some anniversary quotes to see if I could find anything to use as the crux of this letter that wasn’t nauseating to read. I came across this one, which is pretty cheesy, but I don’t mind, since I am being sentimental:

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”

Our community has faced adversity like never before this past year. Students were displaced in a rushed evacuation from campus in March. Seniors had their dream of walking across a graduation stage ripped away from them in May. Our undocumented students were excluded from the federal stimulus in June. Our Black students experienced trauma that prompted the uprisings in June. Our international students faced deportation in July. Our first-years had their dreams of a true college experience crushed in August. Our Armenian students watched with horror as war took over their homeland in October. All of us struggled to navigate the stress of the most recent election and the anxiety that came with it in November.

But we held on to each other and made it to the finish line in December. Between raising $50,000 for Black Lives Matter-related causes, sending aid money to Armenia, making wellness support groups for marginalized students, organizing for institutional change, and creating a virtual support system for each other in a time of need, you all have found a way to be there for each other. It’s been an honor to witness that and to document it in our reporting. It is a privilege to be your voice. 

Admittedly, that quote is usually used in the context of a wedding anniversary, so maybe it doesn’t necessarily apply to the occasion. But I don’t know that AGENCY’s founding and a wedding are all that different. Jan. 22 was the day we committed to the values we were founded on. It was the day we committed ourselves to serving our community. It was the day that we committed to lifting up others’ voices and inviting others in. 

Today we are renewing that commitment.

Thank you for your support. It means more than you’ll ever know. If we’ve made even one person feel heard that didn’t feel heard before, I feel that we’ve done our job and fulfilled our purpose. 

I sincerely hope that we have. 


Post a Comment