When you gather with friends or family, what does it look like?

It’s possible there’s conversation, music, drinks, joy and stories.

But no matter how big or small the gathering, there’s almost always a warmth there — a palpable kindness among one another and maybe even a longing to stick around just a little longer.

Food helps.

Food exists in almost all times of togetherness, as it should. It, too, creates such a warmth around a group of people, a happiness to gather around, a reason to stay.

A story within itself.

As it likely will for you, too, Ashton Wirrenga’s work in Bismarck, North Dakota, makes me think of my family and the traditions we have around food. My mom makes homemade chicken noodle soup every Christmas Eve, and without fail, Aunt Cindy brings taco salad to every holiday meal.

Food has its own culture, but Ashton is eager to explore the bounty that comes with being even more intentional in our preference of food as a social setting.

To her, food is an invitation into community, and through a seasonal magazine that beautifully shares recipes and the stories around them, she hopes to bring creativity to the table, too.

“This magazine helps people learn to have community over food,” Ashton says. “We do that whether we realize it or not; this is just making it more intentional.”

Meet the magazine

Last fall, Ashton began a passion project called Bevö, a digital magazine with a vision to combine food and creativity.

“I had this idea that I wanted to collaborate. I wanted to make something fun, and I happened to know three close friends of mine who were all really good at something different than me. So, I said, ‘You guys, let’s make something!’ ”

They were a perfect match. The creative team of four includes a culinary chef, a pastry chef, a hand-lettering artist and Ashton, who handles the design of the magazine.

Bevö, which means “group of people” in German, is a smaller, “mini magazine,” about 28–32 pages, but its purpose is clear and simple. Along with an introductory letter and a page of thanks at the end, the magazine shares three recipes: a side dish, an entree and a dessert. The recipes are easy to work with, and the directions are concise.

It’s lovely, and it looks lovely, too.

“We wanted to make it really visual,” Ashton says. “When we talked about recipes we liked, there’s always only one photo of the final, finished product in the cookbook. That’s not cooking! So with our photos, we want to show each step.”

The photos are thoughtful, beautiful work — strong enough for Bevö to stand as a coffee table book alone …

There’s a lot of potential here.

Ashton is on her way.

Print coming this spring!

Bevö’s first and only edition so far came out last September. When the girls first got together, they talked about producing a print magazine for their first edition, but much like the magazine itself, they wanted to focus first on intention and simplicity. So the first copy was released digitally and is still available online today.

“We just wanted to get something out there that’s free for everyone and get feedback from them,” Ashton says. “This is something we enjoy doing, but we weren’t sure if people would want to read it or would use it. So we wanted to make it accessible for everyone.”

It worked. They’ve gotten over 100 downloads and counting, and any feedback is the same:

“The only response we got was, ‘I wish this was in print!’ Well, yeah, me, too!”

She’s in good hands. Through the Builders program, Ashton and her team intend to create a second, spring Bevö issue — in print.

While completing this next edition, Ashton also hopes to reach out to contributors in the Bismarck area.

“We could contact our local flower shops, and just get people involved who have a skill or have something they would love to contribute to the mag. And maybe there’s events or side things that could supplement the magazine.”

Ashton’s also eager to market Bevö Magazine and add a website and social media components.

“A printed issue will really open up these conversations,” she says.

Ideas abound, all working toward the same goal.

“I just want to use what I love to help the world, and more so my local community.”