Commentary — Strategies Of Understanding

Ahem. We say, every time, that The Alpine Review will return. And it remains true! (See, it’s in your hands! It only took two and a bit years.) we even say it again on the next page, in case you doubt us.

To those of you wondering why this issue took so long, we have come to learn that this magazine tells us it’s ready when it’s ready. At 320 pages, not including the inserts, there’s no justice rushing it. But thanks for your patience all the same. And to those of you discovering us for the first time, I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.

Being a newcomer to this publication, I’d like to personally thank you for your trust. Prior to this issue, The Alpine Review was the baby of Louis-Jacques Darveau and Patrick Tanguay, whose world I fell into by blissful accident, stumbling across the first issue from my previous home in Melbourne and immediately falling in love. Cut to Montreal and then Toronto years later, where I found myself entrusted to co-parent the thing, along with a new editorial team (Anna Duckworth, Eli Burnstein, and John Di Palma) who moved mountains with myself and Louis-Jacques, on limited resources, to bring together what in retrospect seems a ludicrously vast and ambitious project. When you’re chest-deep in the mire of it, making a magazine like this can seem like a folly. But then again, you can be sitting in the Oregon wilderness with Barry Lopez, and he can tell you exactly why you do this: “It’s like we’re tending a campfire and our determination is to keep the fire burning until they kill us.” I hope you enjoyed your time at the fire. S’mores and all.

The Broader Mission

As a print magazine, The Alpine Review will always be a slow, exacting, and careful beast. Just as we never sell advertising, so too will we never sell subscriptions, because our commitment to you is not to that kind of rhythm. But over the past couple of years, while the magazine has slowly gestated, we have extended outwards in our universe, building a suite of projects that can occur on a slightly more regular basis, giving you more opportunities to stay connected with us as we explore the things that fascinate us. These include events, one-off publishing projects, and an ongoing digital conversation, all of which contribute to the broader mission we call “strategies of understanding.” As promised in the introduction, here they are.


In 2015, in collaboration with the Toronto-based creative agency Totem, we gathered many of our friends from the global Alpine community for the inaugural Aerials event. A forum for doing and designing business in a networked world, Aerials brings together people from agency and business contexts who practice and think at the intersection of organizational design, network logic, and the future of work. The proceedings of our first rendition are included in this issue, and video and audio clippings are available online. If these conversations sparked inspiration in you, we’d love to hear your thoughts. We’re always open to ideas for participation in future Aerials events, so please drop us an email.

Make Ready

Make Ready is our cheeky little online sister. Rather than attempt to turn The Alpine Review into any kind of high-volume digital presence, we built something much more fit for our purpose. Make Ready is our online home for regular publishing—a place for ongoing critical conversation on changes coming down the line in media, marketing, design, technology, urbanism, transportation, and business.

Driven by the editorial and creative teams behind The Alpine Review—with many of our favorite contributors in tow—Make Ready is where you’ll find us day to day, a little rougher around the edges but with the same questions in mind. As part of our efforts, we send out a weekly email letter called The Overprint that we think you’ll like a lot. And if you subscribe to our podcast, Noonmark, you’ll likely catch us kicking around the nascent forms of what will eventually become the fourth issue of this magazine.


We had a lot of fun making a deck of 77 cards called Parachutes: Instructions for Landing in the 21st Century. Part book, part map, part riddle, Parachutes examines our assumptions about 21st century media, tech, design, and business with a playful scattering of fragments, speculations, and assertions. You can either order your own deck of cards, featuring illustrations by this issue’s cover artist Raymond Biesinger, or explore and annotate the digital version.

The Future

If you have ideas for how you’d like to contribute, please get in touch. This magazine is made by its community. Enthusiasm is our rocket fuel. Send us yours.

Patrick Pittman, fall 2016

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