Village Life was started in October 2003 by a group of Stanford business people as a newspaper for the village (pop. 5500). Interest in the publication soon proved to be much wider, and from the third issue it started to grow into a regional paper, published by husband-and-wife team Maré and Annalize Mouton. The masthead strapline was changed from "Stanford in the Cape Overberg" to read "Cape Overberg Whale Coast", then became "Journal of the Cape Overberg", and finally "Journal of people, nature history, arts", reflecting the much wider spread of the magazine.
Initially Village Life was an A3 size (tabloid) newspaper printed on matt art paper in full colour, with reproduction and print quality normally seen in brochures. From the February/March 2005 issue it was changed to A4 magazine format, 32 pages on gloss art, and from the June/July 2005 issue it was 48 or more pages plus cover.
Up to Issue No 33 (December 2008) it was published every second month, but from 2009 it became a quarterly, published in March, June, September and December. The magazine was distributed nationally through subscriptions, selected retail outlets and accommodation establishments.
It aimed to be a broad-based window on interesting "ordinary" people, the natural environment, history and social life. The magazine did not publish "advertorials" or editorial material in exchange for advertising. It also did not compete with other magzines in reporting the everyday disasters of life, or the affairs of "celebrities".
Maré "retired" to Stanford in December 2001 to devote his time to painting, writing and photography, after having run his own graphic design and advertising studio in Cape Town for twelve years, serving corporate clients such as Metropolitan Life, KWV, Naspers, Pepkor, Trencor, US Business School and Taylor Window Blinds. Before that he worked in journalism, graphic design, photography and public relations in South Africa and Namibia. He was involved in the design of a number of newspapers and magazines, including doing the original handlettering for the masthead of the Johannesburg daily Beeld in 1974 (still used today).
Annalize, who has been living in the Stanford area since 1996, is a trained pianist and singer, and has worked as a music teacher, farm manager, gourmet chef and lay preacher, and is an experienced genealogical researcher. She was, apart from general articles, responsible for the historical research, and took full advantage of her digital camera, contributing stunning photographs. Her project to take photographs of "some" people in Stanford, started in June 2007, resulted in a well-received exhibition in October 2007 and the publication of the large-format book Stanford 150 : Portrait of a Village in February 2008 (view pictures). A selection of the photographs have been exhibited at various venues in Holland, Germany and Italy.
Maré and Annalize did virtually everything regarding Village Life themselves for three years, from research, writing, photography and canvassing advertising, to driving 4000 km per month to do articles and distribution. They were later joined by Ronel Vosloo, who looked after the 2000 subscribers.
We were fortunate in having as contributors knowledgeable historians, experts from the scientific community and freelance journalists. A special feature was the regular contributions by Nico Myburgh, the doyen of South African bird photographers, whose pictures and knowledge always amazed (Nico passed away in January 2011, aged 86).
In spite of excellent feedback from readers about the high quality of the magazine, Village Life was unable to obtain enough advertising to pay its way. Because of ever-growing debt, Maré and Annalize were forced to close the magazine with the Winter 2010 issue Number 39. They now have to sell their house, close the chapter and find new things to do.
The subscriptions office has closed, but Annalize may still be contacted at email@example.com for back issues.