I was raised up believing that I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me
— From the Fleet Foxes song ‘Helplessness Blues’
By Chris Marchand
Tracing back to late August 2005, my attempt to calculate the number of newspaper editions I’ve been involved with at the Dryden Observer yielded a mildly infuriating total of 499.
If you think that taking the sum of one’s efforts like this is the kind of thing people do when they’re leaving, you’d be right. I am leaving the Dryden Observer.
I’ve been very fortunate to have spent the last 13 years immersed in the issues of concern to the people of Dryden and having the pages of the Observer as a platform on which to practice the craft of storytelling. That’s way longer than any one person should occupy a single role. It’s hard to leave a great gig when you have no real reasons beyond a creeping professional malaise.
The Observer’s increasingly rare status as an independent decently-paying weekly has fostered the right conditions for a long-term position I have built a life around. In some part, that role has become deeply-linked with my local persona in ways to which I’m eager to bid farewell and others that I’ve surely taken for granted over the years.
When it comes right down to it, the mere thought of going through another election is a difficult one to bear. This newspaper needs a fresh set of eyes that don’t roll at everything, a renewed sense of vigilance, optimism and patience for the game and how it’s played.
Then there’s the cool little things I’ll miss. I have this thing with Jed Benham where I’ve taken the same picture of him holding a lamb in the Egli’s Open Barn almost every Easter weekend from his grade school days into his adulthood. Having that continuity with so many people I deal with is a very special thing. I’ve watched and documented a generation of youth in this community go from kindergarten to high school graduation.
Maybe this is my graduation day, the end of a long lesson in the inner-workings of community — represented by a dozen or so bound volumes in an archive spanning 120 years. I’ve been at the helm for around 10 per cent of the Observer’s lifespan, throughout one of the most municipally turbulent periods in local history and a challenging decade for small newspapers everywhere.
Thank you, one and all, for allowing me to attempt to artfully reflect your lives and the things that are important to you so that we can better understand and celebrate this place we live in.