By Makena Schoene 
Blog & Social Media Coordinator, Student Editor, The Drake Community Press 

Hey everyone! We have been on a bit of hiatus from the blog as we focus on editing the chapters for our project featuring the religions of Des Moines (sorry about that!) But with the new school year in full swing, it’s time to kick our blogs back in gear, and what better way to get you all involved than meeting the people behind the scenes that are going to make this book a success. Over the next few months, you will meet the staff for the Press, as well as our collaborators joining us from the Des Moines Area Religious Council and The Comparison Project. To start off these interviews, let’s take a short coffee break and meet the fearless leader of the Drake Community Press!

Who: Carol Spaulding-Kruse
What: Founder & Executive Director, The Drake Community Press
Where: Hometown – Fresno, California
Words to live by: “Is it possible to teach English so that people stop killing each other?” – Ihab Hassan

MS: Why did you start the Drake Community Press? What was your motivation?

CSK: I first became aware of the concept of “community publishing” through the work of two young Des Moines natives, Danny Hegen and Justin Norman (Justin now serves on the DCP Advisory Board). In 2009, Danny and Justin produced a beautifully illustrated collection of letters written by homeless youth in Iowa called From A Growing Community: Iowa’s Homeless Youth.  Proceeds from the sale of the book were donated to Iowa Homeless Youth Center, where Danny had been volunteering for quite a while. The idea of telling local stories using local talent in design & publishing appealed to me as a community-engaged writing teacher. I imagined what Danny and Justin did with their small press, Shrieking Tree, as a great fit for a curricular model in which the various components of book production could be handled through existing courses across several of Drake’s colleges.
The Drake Community Press gives students the opportunity to work in a publishing laboratory alongside a community partner; it funds, through book sales, the work of that partnering non-profit organization and raises awareness about the needs or issues it addresses. It’s a holistic form of community engagement, involving many stakeholders and producers towards a common good.

MS: How did you get started in the editing field?

CSK: I started tutoring in a writing lab as an undergraduate and have done so in some fashion, whether in office-hour settings or one-on-one with clients throughout my teaching career. I also edited my college’s literary journal and have served as reviewer for journals and publishers in both an academic and literary capacity.

MS: How do you go about choosing the projects you will undertake?

CSK: Our website,, has a function that allows prospective partners to pitch their idea to us. Our current project was a sort of simultaneous realization by DCP and our community partners, The Comparison Project and the Des Moines Area Religious Council, that this would be a terrific fit. They pitched to our advisory board, were approved, and away we went! I’ve already been approached about a possible next project for the cycle beginning 2018, but I’m also always on the lookout for great ideas.

MS: What are you most excited for with this project?

CSK: You can’t make me name one thing! I love this style of teaching (that’s essentially what the DCP is about) because we all learn from one another. Editors, writers, researchers, designers, faculty, students, marketers, publicists, photographers, and community partners—our interaction (over the 2 years it takes to produce a title) is one big classroom.
Process aside, I love that this book will engage readers with both stunning visuals as well as stories of the participating religious communities. Bob Blanchard, our photographer, is an extremely gifted artist who brings the local people and places of these religions to life. It was Bob who said that Des Moines’ religious diversity is incredibly unique and really something to celebrate. It’s not that other medium-sized and big cities don’t have religious diversity; they do. But I am learning, as we research the communities, that the members of the various religious organizations themselves boast of the welcoming atmosphere for religious diversity here in the Des Moines metro.

MS: Now that editing is in full swing, what are your thoughts on the work to be done going forward into fall?

CSK: We’re in phase 2 right now, which is content preparation mode—getting the text and photography ready for fall, when the content will be delivered to the designers, for phase 3. Our editorial board continues to meet and discuss the other items related to running the press and preparing for publication, including the never-ending task of seeking funding; looking ahead to book reviews and the book launch; planning related community-building events (a big part of the community publishing model) which includes the exciting news that radio host Krista Tippit will visit Drake this fall as part of the Bucksbaum Lecture Series; managing our team of editorial interns; integrating related courses; and most importantly, getting approval of submissions by the various participating religious communities who have generously agreed to be a part of this project.
So, you know, just a couple of things on our plate.

MS: What are you looking for in terms of the development of your student interns?

CSK: Editing is exacting, sometimes painstaking work. Some students who love creative writing find that the work of editing is a different undertaking—a different set of muscles, as it were. My team is deep into the process as we move through the 15 chapters, smoothing out sentences, cutting word count, aligning the voice and tone of the content across the 15 different student researchers who contributed to the book, and, of course, fact-checking. In the spring, a course of developmental editors worked closely with each of the religion capstone students who researched the communities. Now that the developmental editing process is (mostly!) complete, the summer editing phase is devoted to the kind of editing most people are familiar with—style, correctness, and smoothing out the chapters for a general audience.

MS: What is the hardest part of working with a new staff for each project?

CSK: Fortunately, the staff is never entirely new. Usually, student editors from a previous project sign on for the new one. And there are key faculty and staff in place who help out with each book. These include the wonderful people in the Office of Community Engagement and Service Learning, members of our Advisory Board who are also Drake staff or faculty, and the administrative assistants whose work is so critical to keeping everything (accounts, press releases, photocopies, course credit, website functioning, catering, travel, and countless other items) humming along.

MS: What faith, religion or belief system do you adhere to? How has working on this project opened your eyes to other cultures?

CSK: I was raised a Methodist-turned-Unitarian Universalist. I then spent several years being philosophically agnostic but a spiritual seeker. During graduate school, I found Quakers (Unprogrammed Friends) and fell in love with Iowa’s deep Quaker roots. I’m a long-time member of Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting (our Meeting is featured on the digital storytelling feature of The Comparison Project’s website).
Generally, I’m not big on organized religion of any kind (something that attracts a lot of Unprogrammed Friends) but I have always been open to the ways that others worship or seek their spiritual development. I’m in awe of the magnificent array of religious devotion that humans partake in. I’m also more able to recognize ways that culture, family and identity are wrapped up in religious devotion for many people. Because that’s the case, I believe that mutual respect and tender curiosity are necessary between and among us all.

Find Carol online to see what’s new with the DCP!

Facebook:  Carol Roh Spaudling

Twitter: CSK515