Crude Futures 1
Delivered to Stack subscribers in  Apr 2024

by Steve Watson in May 2024
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A magazine dedicated entirely to the subject of collapse, Crude Futures looks at the many ways in which our world is falling apart. But running through it all there’s a strange sense of hope; a continuing belief that there is a way of making it through the doom, or at least existing within its “engulfing lustre”.

Mina Miller

Job title
I’m a copywriter and freelance writer, and the rest of the collective is comprised of: Richard (an author, journalist, and audio producer and podcaster at Novara), Jack (an environmental policy analyst), Marce (a web and visual designer), Jake (a music producer, music writer and now permaculturalist), Matiss (an architect and assistant lecturer at Aarhus), Zel (a photographer and artist), Beau (a writer and artist) and Phm (an artist and former composer who wishes to remain anonymous). Interestingly we have two lapsed composers in our midst. We live in the UK, France, Norway, Denmark, Spain, the US and Germany.

What is Crude Futures?
Crude Futures started as an anonymous, online reading group on the New Models podcast’s Discord in lockdown. We met weekly to discuss articles and research on the subject of collapse – environmental, social, political, biological, you name it. Two years later, we became an intentional collective when we decided to do a week-long residency in a rural bolthole in France and to produce this magazine. We finally met each other (and saw each other’s faces for the first time!) after disembarking at Limoges Airport. Since then we’ve met IRL in Berlin, London and Geneva.

What makes it different from the rest?
We never started out with the intention of making a magazine. There was quite a lot of hesitation about it, actually. About creating output, what we would say, what it would look like, and who it was for. But after a certain amount of time we also felt we wanted to do something with our accumulated knowledge. We actually recorded a couple of podcast interviews before deciding on the zine format. And none of us knew each other at the start – so we became friends through this intense, weird, reading group that parsed through lots of very pessimistic technical articles. All of us share an interest in understanding the complexity of our current moment, and though the reading material is often quite doom-laden, our meetups have tended to be pretty light-hearted.

Who makes Crude Futures?
We all played a part in bringing the magazine to print. It was a long process and we weren’t sure we’d get there, but we took turns being the torch-bearers. Richard provided the impetus and drive to make it happen in the first place, and he and Beau did a lot of writing. I then helped a lot with the flatplan and editorial, but got really busy and tapped out, at which point Jake kept us writing and accountable, and Jack took on the mammoth task of organising production and printing. Marce designed the whole thing so it looked fantastic, and proved that Midjourney can be used in a subtle, artful ways. The card game (which came with a limited edition bundle of Crude Futures) was Phm’s idea. Matiss and Zel provided us with striking imagery. Then I picked up a little bit on marketing and distro, while others presented the game at an art exhibition in Geneva. So it’s been a truly group effort from start to finish. And none of it would have been possible without the generous funding of New Models, who fronted the cash for production and gave us the community to begin with.

Who reads it?
During our first meeting in France, we discussed our audience. As a group we don’t have a cohesive viewpoint on collapse, so we didn’t about audience either. Some of us wanted to be able to present our knowledge to important people in our lives in a digestible format, to combat inaction and a feeling of pervasive doom. How would you explain this to a family member, say, or a friend? Others wanted to start to articulate a more formalised, working theory of collapse, as collapsology is still an interdisciplinary subject area, and we feel that it merits becoming its own field of study. Others yet wanted to present the slow unwinding of collapse in a visual medium. So that’s why you’ve got such a diversity of writing and viewpoints in the magazine.

Why do you work in magazines?
None of us work full-time in magazines, but I’ve written features for indie publications and edited a lot of articles in my day. I’ve always wanted to understand the process of bringing a printed artifact to life from start to finish, as I’ve previously only been part of one or two stages of the process. It’s safe to say we’ve all learned a great deal from making Crude Futures – some of us aren’t keen to repeat the process, but I’m definitely hoping we’ll make a second edition at some point.

Aside from the print magazine, what else are you involved in?
Richard works at Novara and is a fellow at Newspeak Institute. He recently presented his theory of collapsology at the ICA. He and Beau are currently working on co-authoring a book about critical collapsology. Jake works as a producer under the handle NKC and is a freelance music journalist when he’s not digging beds on the permaculture farm where he lives. Jack is also a DJ and producer when he’s not working on climate adaptation. Zel continues to be an artist in Norway while also hunting elk, Phm has his hands in many pies and has recently put the world-building game we made, How it Happens, up for download on Marce likes to keep a low-profile. I recently completed an MA in creative writing at University of Sheffield and am also working on a book proposal. We will have updates on collapse-related projects on our Substack.

What would you change about Crude Futures if you could?
I wouldn’t change anything. It’s not perfect, but it was a great experience and we learned so much about collapse, making magazines, how to work with each other, etc. We first did a limited print run mainly for the New Models community, then reprinted for wider distribution in the UK. That allowed us to fix some printing errors that slipped through in the first round.

Where do you see Crude Futures in five years?
I’m not sure we’ll make another magazine, but it has become a starting point for future projects. We’re all taking our work in different directions, and you can expect to see more output coming. Richard and Beau’s book will be published by then, and I know other members of the collective are thinking about future projects. It has certainly informed my creative writing practice. We hope to regroup at another residency in the near-future to explore where we’re taking things.

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