Pacific Beach students’ new magazine sheds light on community creativity
Erick Girouard and Gracie Semmens are 17-year-old students who soon start their senior year at Mission Bay High School. Like the rest of us, they are stuck in coronavirus restrictions this summer. And, like many of us, they are looking for ways to connect to their community during this time.
Enter Light!MoreLight!PB, a magazine that aims to showcase the creativity of young people in the Pacific Beach area.
The two friends realized there’s more to the PB scene than the typical “beaches and bros” reputation, so they decided to produce a magazine that reflects that.
Light!MoreLight!PB came to light when the two connected on their shared love of the arts. Erick is a student journalist at MBHS, while Gracie is an artist.
“We’re really good friends and we have been all throughout high school. [Gracie] came up with the idea of a compilation of art in the community and I started adding on to the idea and it just came to be what it is now. It’s going to be our senior project,” Erick said.
“I’m an artist myself and I surround myself with creativity all the time,” Gracie said. “During quarantine, I felt like art and creativity were not taking the front of importance, and I thought that making this magazine would put it more out there. And I thought it’s important to push it forward in importance because of how much light is spread in a community.”
The two initially set out to collect poetry and art but also have accepted submissions that don’t quite fall into either of those categories.
“We got all kinds of works, and it’s been fun to look at them all,” Erick said. “We’ve gotten lots of poems, a song even, and lots of drawings.”
The submission period for the first edition of Light!MoreLight!PB has ended, but they managed to collect enough content for a 30-page magazine, scheduled to go to print Aug. 8.
After that, the magazine be available for purchase on the website lightmorelightpb.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds from sales will benefit a yet-to-be-determined local charity and help keep the “light” shining with possible future issues.
The magazine’s unusual name was inspired by the Anthony Hecht poem “More Light! More Light!” The poem was viewed as a way to create art out of darkness, in this case, World War II.
“They used it as a way to spread light through all the chaos,” Erick said. “So it’s kind of mirroring the same thing that we’re trying to do now, like spread creativity throughout our community.”
The friends’ goal, Erick said, is to “showcase the creativity of Pacific Beach and its youth. And because we’re all trapped inside our homes during quarantine, scared to go outside, there’s no real reason to shelve art and creativity. It’s a great way to get people involved in the community, even if it’s kind of harder nowadays.”
Gracie added that “the goal really is to inspire people to make art for other peoples’ enjoyment — and, of course, their own — but really to spread happiness and light and understand the impact creativity has on a community.”
Producing a magazine has come with some surprises, especially the support of the community.
“We’ve gotten a lot of help from community members and leaders around our area,” Erick said. “My first thought was we were going to have to do this mostly by ourselves, but we talked to the principal of our school and other schools around here. The Pacific Beach Town Council, they’ve all been really helpful with it [by] giving us printers to ask about and a bunch of other advice, and that’s all been very helpful.”
The two said they want to continue producing Light!MoreLight!PB post-pandemic.
“We’re going to see how this one goes and how sales go, but I think once the schools reopen again, it’ll be easier to get submissions so we can have a collaboration with the schools around here,” Erick said. “We can expand it to most of San Diego. We’re getting a lot of positive feedback from PB and our community. They like it, so we might go ahead and do it again.”