Happy Anniversary, Free Radical Network

When one reaches a milestone, it’s difficult to avoid marking it with some reflection.  As Editor of Free Radical Network for a year (A YEAR!) I couldn’t let the milestone pass without an attempt to review the past year and what we’ve accomplished.

We launched FRN January 10th, 2013 with a few things in mind.  We wanted to focus on solutions, rather than merely ranting about current events.  We wanted to host serious discussions on everything from education to foreign policy to health care to party politics.  We chose the motto ‘Don’t Get Comfortable’ because we wanted to take people outside their comfort zones, challenge their thinking, and perhaps motivate them to do things they hadn’t done before in the name of advancing freedom.

We chose that motto with ourselves in mind as well – each of us at FRN has been stretched and grown by our association with each other and with FRN.  And that’s translated into our daily lives, too, as some of us faced new jobs, new ideas, new roles, new responsibilities; or developed new skills, new talents, new habits (or tossed out old ones), and new relationships.

We published some great work this year from our core team; work I’m really proud of from writers who perhaps weren’t even aware of how much their pieces affected others.  Just a sampling: from Trish Proulx’swarning on government establishing ‘common law marriages’ to Stephen Glaug’s furious article over theBoston Bombing; from Larry Hedman’s excellent piece on character to his wife Sandra’s brave piece onmental illness; from Peter Ream’s Syria solution to JD Bryden’s funny and thoughtful Re: Culture series; I’m proud to have worked with each of my cohorts to get their ideas down on paper.  Or the internet, as the case may be.  And without the great, inimitable and adorable Tim Wells, the Right Wing Nerd, none of FRN would be possible.

And we’ve hosted some other great writers as well: pieces from Joe BrennemanTaylor MillardKevin Boyd,George Templeton and Ethan Sabo among others have added variety and new ideas to these pages.  I’m truly grateful they allow us to publish their good works.  We aren’t as large a platform as most of them are used to, but they add so much to FRN with their ideas, their arguments, and their way with words.

We didn’t just write our hearts out at FRN, though.  We also hosted shows on Spreecast, with discussions on everything from foreign policy, politics, music, activism, religion, guns and everything in between.  We’ve been blessed to have some fascinating guests on our shows as well; people like Dean Clancy of Freedom Works, Meredith Walker of The Snark Who Hunts Back and Damn Straight PoliticsBryan Chapelle of Divine Sorrow, and Meredith Dake of Breitbart.  Between writing and talking, we’ve covered a lot of ground in the past year.

We’ve also used our Facebook page and Twitter to feature some of our favorite thinkers, talkers, writers, and performers; brilliant folks like Kevin Williamson of National Review, Matt WalshRemy of Reason TVBailey ConnellTony Katz, and our friends at The Party of Choice and Real Deal Talk Radio and The Conservative Union and Vigilant Liberty Radio.  While our Street Team concept is still in the works, we spend a lot of time looking for and sharing content from folks who make us laugh, make us think, and make us want to change the world.  Those are the things that brought us together, and are among the glue that holds us together a year later.

I also have to say thanks to the core team at FRN for what they’ve done for me.  There isn’t one person in the ‘steering committee’ (for lack of a better term) or among our friends and partners who hasn’t had something important to do with making me better in some way.  ‘Iron sharpens iron’ as the Biblical phrase goes, and they are proof of it every day.  Without the support and feedback of my cohorts, my comrades in arms, I couldn’t have written as much, or as well, as I have this year.  Among my favorite works are my two pieceson Detroit, my article on criminalizing boyhood, a couple of pieces on abortion, and my recommendation of drama classes for kids.  These are the products not of some genius of mine, but of casual conversations that became food for thought that became nagging ideas that eventually became what you read on the site.

So as FRN starts its second year, I wanted to mark the first; looking back in awe and pride at what our little enterprise has done, and looking forward to what another year – an election year, at that – will challenge us to do.  Thanks to everyone who shared, liked, tweeted, favorite, commented, watched, listened, and friended us.  We appreciate your support and friendship immensely.  We hope we informed you, challenged you, amused you, entertained you, and made you uncomfortable.  But in the best possible way.  And we hope to do much more of it in 2014.

Love ya, mean it.