The Connection is one of numerous new Amish periodicals
Amish readers have enjoyed a variety of new publications over the past few years. One of my favorites is called The Connection. The Connection is published out of Topeka, Indiana, and features a variety of columns and articles written by Amish from around the country (as well as a few non-Amish).
First of all, The Connection explicitly describes its audience as Amish in the tagline right beneath the title “Connecting our Amish Communities”. It’s an appealing motto and one that reflects the chief Amish value of community.
Family Life, another one of my favorite Amish publications, does not have an equivalent tagline, though you do see other books and publications that contain something that states their intended audience. More significantly, The Connection‘s tone is lighter. It has a fun and breezy approach that you see throughout in everything from the illustrations to the editorial comments.
Secondly, on its first page The Connection describes itself as a “magazine”. “Magazine”–with its connotation of glossy photo shoots and full page ad spreads–has a more worldly feel than black-and-white “newspaper” or generic “publication”. Though the interior has a newsprint feel, there is a lot of color throughout, and I think it’s an accurate description.
The glossy cover and liberal use of color throughout give it a much different feel than Family Life or Die Botschaft, another long-running Plain publication. Imagery in the magazine includes depictions of Amish people, which in my opinion look like they were probably created with a basic computer graphics program. It’s a far cry from the plain black and white drawings in other Amish productions.
One reason for this may be that The Connection‘s Publisher, from what I can tell by her last name, is not Amish (the magazine also offers an email address for correspondence). However the bulk of the editorial/writing staff seems to be.
Amish partner with non-Amish in some situations in order to be able to produce products or use technologies to enable a business. Another example would be an Amish bakery having a non-Amish partner who handles marketing, websites, and so on.
What’s inside The Connection
The connection is pretty packed with information and material. You get a glimpse of what’s in store by the colorful cover displaying the magazine’s features.
Among others, the cover sports a “Featured Craftsman”, with an accompanying article about the business inside and interview with the owner. Each month a different Amish school is also featured up front and in the “School Days” section inside.
The Connection features a wide range of monthly columnists writing under their own names. Columnists typically report from their communities, or write about a certain topic. Columns are quite personalized, featuring a “brand name” and logo. Columnists hail from a range of states, including Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, as well as Canada.
Examples include “Hen Party” (featuring correspondence from different Amish women, including recent contributors from New York and Pennsylvania), “Milroy Musings” (from the small central Indiana settlement), “The Poets Porch” (a column and accompanying poem written by an Amish father of 5), “Greetings from the Bluegrass State”, and “Swiss Gems” (written by an Amish woman from the Swiss Amish settlement at Berne, Indiana).
And the range of topics goes beyond the weather and who happened to be born/married/died that month. In a recent column, the author of “Hoosier Doodles” writes about the U-505 German World War II submarine. Another Amishman describes an experience with a cookware salesman (the title, “Salesmen!!!!”, tells you about all you need to know about what happened).
The magazine is filled out with lots of other nice tidbits, including gardening tips, monthly recipes, an auction report, book reviews, sudoku, and a children’s section providing games and puzzles.
The magazine also actively seeks reader contributions. An “Adult Entries” section includes “original short stories and artwork” by adults, providing a creative outlet and a chance for aspiring Amish writers/artists to see their work “up in lights”.
Advertisements in The Connection
The Connection is also filled with interesting ads. One that caught my eye was on the inside front cover of the January 2011 issue:
And how about this one:
And one more, for all the hard-working Amish housewives:
Family Life is a great publication, and still probably my favorite Amish-produced periodical. I would say it more strongly represents Plain values, both in its format and in the messages it emphasizes. The Connection is different in that it is lighter and more business-oriented.
The two offer an interesting contrast in the types of writing Amish are doing nowadays. But both contain a heavy dose of “old-fashioned values”, which is what you would expect from anything read by Amish.
Compared to Family Life‘s $12 yearly subscription price, The Connection is not cheap. However, the production value, and from what I can tell, the amount of content are both greater.
Read more on The Connection contents and writers
The Connection phone, contact, and subscription info
Other Amish publications
There are a wide range of publications produced by or for the Amish and other Plain people. I’d estimate there have to be at least a couple dozen. We’ve profiled a few of those on this site and plan to do some more. Here are a few others: