A stack of books on an old suitcase, next to a phonograph.
A stack of books on an old suitcase, next to a phonograph.
Photo: Dahlia Katz

What is Young W?

Is this supposed to be a blog? Who are you? Or: What are you trying to sell me?

Photo: Dahlia Katz

What is Young W?

You may be wondering what Young W is all about. Is it a shop or a blog? Who created it? And why does it cover all these themes without focusing on any one of them in particular?

Young W covers nine themes – reading, writing, paper, art, performance, poetry, cities, society and language – rather than just one, because we believe showcasing the richness of these fields together all in one place makes their appeal more apparent – sort of along the lines of ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. These nine themes span vast fields in the arts, culture, the humanities and – to some degree – the social sciences, across topics like literature, literacy, books, creative writing, writing instruments, publishing, stationery, calligraphy, paper arts, visual arts, incl. sculpture, photography and film, museums, art history, theatre, dance, opera, music in all its forms, poetry, spoken word, oral storytelling, geography, architecture, urban planning, history, journalism, economics, political science, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, ethnography, language learning and linguistics, among others.

While we are passionate about many of these subjects, we are not specialists in any of them. We approach them all with a layperson’s mind. With the mind of someone who is curious to find out more, but tired after a long day of work – intending to do something more interesting than scroll on their phone, but perhaps lacking the energy to fully look into a subject and activities related to it.

 

Young W is the product of years of work and was created by Elena W in Toronto over the course of the pandemic with the goal to simply showcase the beauty and endless number of fascinating aspects that can be found among Young W’s nine themes. Our aim is not to create a ton more content, but to put the focus on what’s already out there, what small businesses, organizations, artists and writers are already doing out there in the community. We are interested in organizing it, sorting it and presenting it to you in a new format. This is what Young W is all about and what we do best.

We want to make you find things, see things, do things, create things, try things. We want you to discover and explore. We want you to actually make use the stuff you buy, read and see (here or elsewhere). We want you to get out of the house. While we do have a shop, Young W doesn’t primarily exist to sell you stuff. We primarily exist to pique your curiosity.

Discovering a flourishing offline life

Young W celebrates all things analog in our current digital world. We showcase activities and pursuits that can be done offline, that are presented live, those with at least an offline component to them, those which are presented online but in a live format, and select online resources which fit Young W’s ethos of “Discovering a flourishing offline life” because they are local or because they foster a sense of community.

And yes, for the time being we are not a physical place (but we hope to open a physical retail shop in the near future in Toronto). But we are very deliberate about what kind of technology we use and how we use it. We take privacy very seriously. We don’t sell ads. We are not an online forum. We use social media sparingly. We do have affiliate links, but only to online retailers who support independent bookshops (you can read more about this subject on our FAQ page).

So why are you doing this?

We believe in community and just putting things out there into the world for people to enjoy and use. For this reason we have started to create a global directory for the arts, culture and the humanities. You can find it here. It is currently just in its initial stage and still heavily focused on Canada (specifically Toronto, since this where YW is based), but what you see on Young W today is only the beginning. This is only YW chapter 1 – and we have plans for a whole lot more.

So for now, Young W is a directory, a blog, a shop where we sell books, stationery, writing instruments and art, and an all-around resource hub for the analog lifestyle. And soon Young W will be a publisher too: we are currently working on our first publication – with several other ones planned (click here for details about the kind of submissions we accept and to find out what we are working on at the moment).

Okay, fine. But what’s with the Werther quotes?

Young W is inspired by a book Elena read a long time ago, in high school. It’s called “The Sorrows of Young Werther” and was written in 1774 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This is where Young W takes its name from. It’s an epistolary novel, meaning the novel consists of letters the character of Werther writes to his friend, Wilhelm. The book is about unrequited love and infatuation and belongs to the Sturm and Drang period of German literature. There are many things which fascinated Elena about this book: how enthusiastically and passionately Werther writes about beauty and the effect nature has on him, how relatable the book still feels today despite having been written almost 250 years ago, how what one thinks may be stuffy and outdated (i.e. literature from 250 years ago) really feels quite current, and how what one thinks is entirely unique to them has in fact already been experienced by generations past with striking similarities.

 

(Photo credits: Dahlia Katz)