It began the same way all things are created: with a dream. Gary Beckman, a one-time computer salesman who yearned for something much more fulfilling, returned home to Coon Rapids, Minn., from a Mystery Schools event in the Carolinas in early 1992 with a vision of what could be. Little did he know that his creation would be just as strong and vibrant fifteen years later.
The Edge debuted in September 1992 as a newsprint tabloid focusing on exploring the evolution of consciousness. Within its sixteen pages were thirty advertisements of varying sizes and articles on spirituality in the workplace, managing stress, herbalism and homeopathic medicine, the challenge of excellence, the Neptune-Uranus conjunction, coping with change, increasing your self-esteem, your spirit nature, and the challenges that face lesbian and gay children. Let’s face it: that fifteen-year-old edition would be relevant today. Fifteen thousand copies of that first bimonthly edition were distributed to 250 sites around the Twin Cities and outstate Minnesota. It brought in less than $1,000. But within the next three years, revenue jumped impressively, the page count jumped to 40 and nearly 23,000 newspapers were sent out to 440 sites.
class=”alignright”>Former editor Lynn LaFroth, commenting on the third anniversary of the publication, wrote this: "…BE-ing" on the edge is what we’re about. And your support makes us what we are. Remember that the structures created (including The Edge) come from the mindset of the consciousness of the community. You and We are The Edge, as One. As you send light, love and goodwill in the celebration of our continuing success, so, too, do you bestow that magic upon yourselves. Our success is your success."
Gary Beckman, sitting next to his wife Insiah in the basement deli at the former Anoka Post Office at Third and Main (the Edge Life sales office is up on the third floor), would tell you that while it seems a lifetime ago when The Edge was created, some things have not changed a bit. Now, 179 editions later (not counting the combined 135 editions of the former Kansas City and Wisconsin editions) the magazine publisher is still anxious to share the cutting edge of metaphysics and healing with the general public. He and Insiah spoke about their dreams and desires.
Why did you create The Edge?
Gary Beckman: I wanted to share with the thousands of people information about the many belief systems and modalities and technologies that are available on the Earth. Not just Christianity. Not just Paganism. Everything that is available that people do not always see. People often are the product of their education. They go to a Catholic school and they come out with certain thoughts. If they’re walking down the street, they see The Edge magazine in a rack and they pick it up and they say, "Oh, my gosh! There is something else available on this Earth. I did not know this." That’s the reason.
Why was 1992 the right timing for the creation of The Edge?
Gary: Here’s a curiosity. That was the same year that Roger Williamson, at Magus Books, opened his shop. It was the same year that Eckankar opened its temple in Chanhassen. It was only four or five years after the Harmonic Convergence. People were ready for a lot more information, and they really wanted to know what else was out there. Maybe I realized that, consciously or subconsciously.
What were the highlights of The Edge from your perspective during the past 15 years?
Gary: The highlights were that I made it work. It is fifteen years later and we’re still in business. A very small amount of new publications make it. Another highlight was our March 1996 edition, when we first went to full color on our cover. The other highlight was when we started our Expos in 2001. It was an extension of the magazine, to bring it to life in the form of 150 exhibitors. The expo is an extension of the organization.
Probably the biggest highlight is the light that we have shone. People can look at and read the publication for as long as they want; whether it’s a week, a month. We still have some people who have every newspaper and magazine we’ve ever printed in their closets or their libraries.
What have been the major challenges during the past 15 years?
Gary: We’re no different than any other small business. The major challenge has been to keep it afloat financially. I have never missed a paycheck or a commitment to the people who work with me, and that is something I pride myself on. The other challenge is the task of staying on the edge. We have done such a good job with The Edge. A lot of the information we have presented has found its way over the years into what you call mainstream journalism. And we plan to continue doing that.
What is the state of the Edge now?
Gary: I give credit to you, Tim, as our editor, for having the vision to redesign everything and take a fresh look at what we’re doing in September 2007. This was not my idea. I believe what you see in the September issue is significant of where we are going to go.
What is your vision for The Edge in the next five to ten years?
Gary: I see the Edge Life magazine still being printed in five, six, seven years, but I see a presence in the internet that will knock your socks off! I also see our Expos expanding in the entire Upper Midwest and Mid-America. Every time we expand our expos into a new market, we bring the magazine along with us. A good example was our first Holistic Expo in Fargo earlier this spring. We now have a presence of 50 distribution sites there. We’re going to Des Moines. We’re bringing along 50 distribution sites. We’re going to go back to Wisconsin and we’re going to enhance distribution sites there. And we are increasingly integrating our website into all that we do.
Insiah Beckman: I would like to see The Edge go national, because I feel that people are more and more ready for this information. People are really disenchanted with the chaos they are experiencing. Traditional belief systems are not fulfilling them. The Edge offers people the opportunity to look at different aspects of spirituality and learn ways to self-empower themselves. This is the most important thing I honor about The Edge: the information that it brings to the masses, to those who are ready for change and ready for growth.
Gary: Insiah and I were married in 1997 and she has been a very stabilizing force for me and also for the rest of the staff. Always pleasant? No. Always creative? Yes. Always challenging? Yes. She has been like the mother. She has helped bring this all together, helped me hold it together, and I think she’s helped everybody on the staff. She has been a guiding force in this organization.
What is your sense of how the spiritual community has shifted between 1992 and 2007?
Gary: When we started this publication in 1992, there was a great sense of lack in the consciousness in the community. People thought that they didn’t deserve to make money at what they do. They thought if those who were making a success were vile, that it was evil. Well, now people realize that in spirituality-and because of the capitalistic society in which we live-that it is okay to make an honest dollar and an honest living. People are really into the fact that they can create their day, they can create their life, they can create their abundance. That’s the biggest change. The first time I tried to sell a business card advertisement, businesses thought it was too expensive. Now, $50 is nothing to them, $100 is nothing to them. They realize that advertising works, and to be successful, they have to run their spiritually related endeavors like a business
What about The Edge are you most proud of?
Gary: We receive many calls throughout the year of people thanking us for assisting us in their journey in life. Are we doing anything magical? No. We’re just giving it to them, and people integrate it into their own lives by taking a look at what is available in our magazine and reading it, studying it, going to seminars. We’re helping to make people happier, and we’re sharing some real good, clean spirituality that is not God-fearing, but God-loving.
Insiah: I feel very proud being associated with The Edge in the sense that it has made, as Gary said, such a phenomenal difference to so many people. Many people pick up this magazine that have never heard of and then they call us, telling us that they didn’t know that something like this existed, that they’ve been looking forever for information on spirituality, and now they have access to different advertisers that give them different modalities, different ways of spiritual practice, different ways of personal growth. We’re in the position to make a positive difference in the lives of others in the midst of all the chaos that is going on around us. That makes us really proud and feel very blessed and very gifted as being co-workers with God.
Is there a topic that you’d like to see in the Edge that we haven’t really explored yet?
insiah: I think it would be very good to have a topic that offers information on different belief systems, different religions, on what they offer people. We’d like to give different belief systems a chance to give us information on how they work and what they’re about.
Gary: There are two things that I really want to see us zero in on. One is a topic we will begin to discuss in December: 2012. Let’s look at whether it’s for real, if it’s a myth. I believe it’s for real. I think 2012 will be a year for enormous change. The other topic that I have great interest in is the origin of human life. Were we created by another race to inhabit this Earth? I believe we were created, no question. It’s been proven or shown that we have been tweaked at least three times in modern history. That’s my gig.
Insiah: I think we should just have a topic that just focuses on: "We are not alone."
Why have you devoted your life to The Edge?
Gary: It’s that chip inside me, something I brought with me from that place between lives. It’s that gnawing thing that says, "Gary, just do this because people actually desire it and want it, and they’re very thankful." I have been planning to retire three times, and some of my intuitive friends have said, "Gary, just stay with it, just stay with it." And I’ve done that, and I’m happy I have because I’ve seen it grow more in many areas-the expos, the events, the internet. And by the way, we aren’t done. We are going to be heavily involved in electronic media. Everyone has their dharma. My dharma was to bring a lot of information about spiritual and healing modalities, and belief systems, to a lot of people. And you know what? I’ve done that. I have probably reached 10 million people in some form of what we have done in the 15 years. Am I done? I’m not done.
Insiah: My biggest joy being involved with The Edge is making a difference. Looking back at the background I come from, from a background of comfort and ease financially, it hasn’t been an easy journey, but the thought behind the journey has been the phenomenal difference we are making to people. That, in itself, is great fulfillment, and I honor Gary for having done what he has done, for thinking of different aspects of improving our business and cash flow. It has helped, and we’re grateful to Spirit. We would like to live a life of ease, getting to that age of retirement, but continuing the journey is fulfilling because of the phenomenal difference it makes to so many people. That is a completion and a satisfaction.
Is there anything you’d like to share that we haven’t talked about?
Gary: I really want to thank each and every person that was ever employed by the Edge Life magazine for helping us take the next step. Our present staff people are Insiah Vawda Beckman, Tim Miejan, Cathy Shaffer, Gary Fricke, Steve Hokenson, Edward Snyder, Lyn Danielson, and myself. We have people who help us, Rachel Miejan and Jean Wallis. I want to thank people that have worked here-salespeople, page designers. Everyone brought something unique to the whole. And last, but not least, I want to thank our advertisers and our readers. I’d also like to thank the contributing writers, who have been an integral part. They are not paid anything, but they share a great deal with us.
Insiah: And also we thank all the people who have supported our expos and all who have come to our expos. We are grateful to all of them because we, as a collective, support one another just by sharing our positivity with each other. Together, we make a phenomenal difference in the world. It’s the Hundredth Monkey: you change one and it changes all, it affects all, and our staff has been the best thing for us. They’ve been supportive and have stayed with us, and they have contributed tremendously to the difference we all make collectively.