Jambalaya imparts Africa-based flavor 4 Columbia women launch magazine

August 29, 1993|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Staff Writer

A bit of poetry, some rhythms and rhymes, features, fiction and finance.

They're the elements of what four Columbia women call Jambalaya, a 32-page magazine featuring people of African descent in Howard County.

The first issue of the free quarterly came out last week.

"We're trying to show you the diversity of the African community," said Pamela Woolford, 26, one of the magazine's publishers.

Ms. Woolford and the three others are friends -- all in their mid-20s, all 1985 graduates of Wilde Lake High School.

To tell the story of blacks in Howard County, Ms. Woolford, a writer, is teamed up with Carolyn Greer, a Georgetown University law student; Kristen Radden, who is studying for a master's degree in journalism at the University of Maryland; and Paula Richardson, a McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. proofreader

"I just wanted to follow through on something," said Ms. Radden, who along with Ms. Greer proposed the idea one day last year while they talked on the phone about religion.

The finished product: 5,000 copies of a glossy-covered magazine with newsprint pages that features an inventor, an artist and the founder/director of the Howard County Center of African American Culture.

Ms. Radden wrote the profiles for an independent-study credit she earned with University of Maryland journalism professor Katherine McAdams. And Ms. Radden didn't receive a grade until the stories were published in the magazine, Ms. McAdams said.

The quartet shared ideas and plans every Saturday during the past year, designing layouts, selling ads, but not always in harmony on how the final product should look.

"They really spent hours and hours just arguing," Ms. McAdams said.

But the community spirit and creative nature of the project drew financial contributions and advertising support. More than 40 advertisers and 40 other financial contributors gave Jambalaya a boost. The foursome had budgeted $2,000 for the first issue.

"I thought [Jambalaya] fit in with Howard County, with the multicultural aspects of Howard County, so we're willing to support it," said Diane Meyer, a former employer of Ms. Woolford and owner of the Silver Heron jewelry store at The Mall in Columbia, which advertised in the magazine.

Jambalaya has applied for nonprofit status.

"They're very courageous people," said Raymond Boone, a former associate professor at Howard University in Washington.

Mr. Boone started his own newspaper targeted to the black community in Richmond, called the Richmond Free Press.

When Mr. Boone established his newspaper, he said he emphasized the need for the paper to serve blacks in the Richmond area.

"Service is the key to any publication, whether it's daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly."

And for Jambalaya to be successful, it must show Howard County that it is providing a service that the community needs, Mr. Boone said.

Jambalaya's creators plan to establish a board of directors to oversee the publication and ensure that it continues to meet the needs of blacks in Howard County, Ms. Woolford said.

"They certainly have the energy and the brains," Ms. McAdams said. "If anybody can do it, they can."

Copies of Jambalaya are available at the Elkridge, Savage, Lisbon and Central libraries, the Maryland Museum of African Art, the African American Art Gallery and other locations.

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