When we began plotting Lenny almost four years ago, we were casually referring to this venture as our cool older sister — someone who’s been there, done that, someone who’s learned from her successes and her failures. But this newsletter has grown way beyond that dream. It was our dearest hope that we could create a space where new voices were safe to speak, and speak loudly. But we didn’t create that.
What you have created — a fiercely passionate community of dedicated readers, writers, and artists — is more than we ever could have asked for. Because, of course, Lenny IS you: every politician, every journalist, every activist, every illustrator, every athlete who shared her words here.
Excuse the nostalgia — we’re looking back today because this is Lenny’s final chapter.
In the three years since we began, the Internet has opened up for underrepresented writers in ways we wouldn’t have predicted or believed from our 2015 bunker. It was an honor to be part of that brigade, and we can’t wait to see how those who forged that path keep holding space after Lenny is gone.
While there’s no one reason for our closure, this change allows for growth and a shift in perspectives — ours and yours. But can we ask one favor? Please, continue to push forward the voices that need a platform, the untold stories that deserve to be heard, the diversity that the publishing industry claims to value but has never mastered.
And know (and we know you do!) that, as powerful as storytelling is, it’s only half the work. What comes after is equally important. Real change-making takes work, and part of that work will come this November. There is nothing more critical to counteracting the daily devastation of the current regime than the midterm elections. Knock on strangers’ doors, drive people who can’t drive themselves to the polls, host a postcard-writing party to encourage unlikely voters, canvas at Taylor Swift concerts. Do whatever it takes.
From endings there inevitably come new beginnings, so in today’s issue, we’re focusing on rebirth. Our own Lenny editors bring you three tales of communities that are refusing to self-destruct and building up instead, from racism, oppression, and climate change, to turn challenges into opportunities:
—Kaitlyn Greenidge meets with the doulas who are fighting against the maternal health crisis for black women.
—Tahirah Hairston travels to Mexico to learn how marine biologists are using in-vitro fertilization to save our coral reefs.
—And Kristine Mar examines the lifeline that prison-re-entry programs like Atlanta’s Freedom Overground provide for formerly incarcerated LGBTQ people.
We want to thank the three remarkable women above, and everyone who has brought Lenny to life, including the core queens (and one king) Jessica Grose, Ben Cooley, Laia Garcia, Doreen St. Félix, Dianca London Potts, Mikki Halpin, Liz Watson ...
And mostly, truly, our readers — thank you for letting us hitch our apple wagon to your star. We trust that Lenny’s mission to amplify unheard voices and the complexities of the female experience will roar even louder inside (and outside) each of you. We’ll be keeping our ears to the shell for the sound of your plans in action.
Lena Dunham, co-founder
Jenni Konner, co-founder
Molly Elizalde, editorial and creative director