So it seems a bit symmetrical that this month I have announced that I will soon leave this post.
I have had a lifelong personal goal of earning my PhD, and I have been fortunate enough to be accepted into the University of Washington’s graduate program in Communications.
I start this fall.
August 13 will be my final day on the paper, although I imagine I will freelance stories to the Monitor now and again.
There is no way to quantify what this position has meant to my life. It’s impossible to imagine my life without having spent a decade on this paper.
What I have learned here, I couldn’t have learned in an equal amount of time in any university in the world. I learned about city government; Snohomish County history; crime and the prison system; outdoor sports; river environment; dairy farming; small business; homelessness; hospital management and health care issues; volunteer organizations; beauty pageants; the challenges of education; the basics of the housing economy; road maintenance; trauma care; seniors’ issues; political processes; sewer plants; concrete asbestos pipe; Cascade geology; alternative energy; fisheries; gardening; pet care; cooking; hiking and more.
But more than that, I learned about people. I learned how people respond to tragedy, how communities respond to need. I learned about the banality of crime. I learned about how cities struggle along with good-hearted volunteers, sharp-tongued critics, quiet hard workers and outspoken advocates.
I learned how hard it is to steer a town’s destiny, yet how stubbornly optimistic people will continue to try.
I learned that churches do many good things, even things that are hard to do, like volunteer with prisoners and their families. And so impressed was I with what philanthropic organizations do in the community, I joined one. Of all my experiences in Monroe, my involvement with Monroe Rotary Club has been among the most satisfying.
I learned that public matters are complicated; that seldom is a simple explanation accurate.
Some of what I learned is frightening. I learned that bad things happen to good people; that life isn’t fair; that a community’s prayers can go unanswered. There are no guarantees.
I also learned that people can be astonishingly good when tragedy strikes a person, family or community like Oso.
I think what I learned most of all was that a newspaper is a vital part of a community, and that to have the helm of one is an incredible honor and also a huge responsibility.
A newspaper is often the only chronicle of the history of a community. It is a place where, as my first boss, Ken Robinson, said, we notice the lives of the people who live here. We have to do it ethically, responsibly, compassionately, fairly and thoroughly.
That is why I plan to do my graduate work in studying ways to help community journalism survive the transition to a digital world. Understanding the importance of quality local journalism, I want to help ensure that the institution doesn’t go extinct.
But I will miss this role. I will miss feeling like an integral part of the Sky Valley. I will miss familiar faces. I will miss my office, and my co-workers Scott and Kathie, and freelancers Chris, Dan and Jim. I’ve been blessed to work with wonderful people.
I will miss following the day-by-day narrative of Monroe and the Sky Valley. I will be paying close attention; I’m curious to see how everything turns out. I want to know what happens when Walmart comes, if the U.S. 2 bypass ever happens, if the downtown recovers and flourishes, who gets elected to what office, and more.
This has been an immeasurably valuable decade, and for the rest of my life I will cherish my memories of being the editor of the Monroe Monitor.
I thank everyone in the entire Sky Valley for all I have learned from and with you. Sharing your lives has made mine incredibly rich.