Roots Branches Out: A Boise Online Culture Platform Expands 

click to enlarge Jenny Bowler founded Roots Boise to fill a gap in the local media scene. - JENNY BOWLER/ROOTS BOISE
  • Jenny Bowler/Roots Boise
  • Jenny Bowler founded Roots Boise to fill a gap in the local media scene.

Boise could have a more robust alternative media scene, Jenny Bowler said. The creator of Roots Boise felt there was a gap in the market, and in just over a year, she has helped fill it with something of a multimedia empire, complete with a blog containing written content by local artists, original video and photography, and a podcast.

"I wanted to be able to be a place where people feel like they can get support for what they do," she said.

Roots Boise first got off the ground in early 2017 and published its first blog post in April of that year. Its podcast, In the Roots, is hosted by Ashley Howell and Jeston Lewis. Other contributors include photographers Kenyon McWilliams and Russ Bashaw, and writers Ben Schultz (a Boise Weekly contributor), Marissa Lovell and Sarah Flick. They've plied connections in their respective fields to produce interviews, longform articles and profiles, and Bowler called their work an "extension of the community rather than [news] media."

It's an important distinction for her. Roots Boise isn't a journalistic enterprise so much as a way for artists, writers, photographers, videographers and more to tell stories from Boise's many cultural cliques, bubbles and silos. As it grew, so did its mission, and Bowler has started using Roots as a way to partner with organizations—it conducted field coverage of The Big Le Boise and Idaho Gives—and promote events and other happenings around town.

The next step, Bowler hopes, will be a glossy print magazine, Uproot, a showcase for photos and reportage that could hit shelves as early as this fall.

"It's kind of got its own flavor," she said. "It has its own voice, but it covers things in the creative community. As a designer, I really wanted to do something like this."

As for the name Roots Boise, Bowler said she's a "sucker for puns."

"Obviously it's trees—City of Trees—but when you talk about where you come from, you talk about where your roots are."

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