Highlight of the year: April 30, Peachland community centre. The Entrepreneur of the Year category was coming up, and Rob and I were sitting with the Lanai ladies, including Tracey Woodward and her husband Ian – Tracey was among the three other friends I worked with briefly at the View a few years ago, and we both started nervous-drinking because we both really wanted me to win but I also wasn’t expecting it / preparing for disappointment. But then my name was called and it was a huge thrill and I won’t publish the photo because I look like a huge dork with my big smile.
Other than sweeping the Academy Awards of Literature in sixth grade, I’ve never won anything before, and I want to start this year-end column with a big thank you for everyone who nominated me for that, and the two other honours I was given this year (2021 Community Inclusion Award and 2020 Mayor’s Award of Merit). It really means a lot people took the time to notice what I’m doing, and when you’re writing council stories at 1 a.m. and wondering whether it’s interesting enough / useful…well, you helped validate some things. You value original journalism in Peachland, and that fact that 300 people choose The Phoenix as their source of local news – it’s a niche, and it’s one that I’m very thankful to cultivate. And with more hard work, I’ll continue to grow. In 2023, writing stories that are a little more interesting, exploring advertising, and putting myself out there more, are three things I want to accomplish.
Some year-end thoughts, AKA what I learned in 2022:
Early in 2022, I pulled out of the local Facebook groups, unfollowed mainstream news sites (and blocked one). Social media was taking up too much of my time. I worked on stopping the comparison game – gaining focus, but definitely losing the amount of people who are seeing my stories. I’m getting good at not worrying about energy-sucking things like comparison, and now I need to get back out there. Maybe I’ll rejoin some groups this year.
Our Calgary Sun family lost our Ian. I still cry almost every time I think of him (tears again now, today is his birthday and he is not here). He leaves many stories and all kinds of crazy advice and he and his wife, Kathleen Robinson were the reason I was able to keep going at the Sun after a traumatic experience on the job. This journalism thing is still a struggle sometimes, and this year, it was more so. You’ll notice I don’t cover car accidents and I’m not first to a murder scene. Yet those types of stories get the clicks and sometimes I think I lose out on that.
I’m learning to be OK with the fact people will stay and people will go – sounds dumb / obvious, but it’s been a challenge to separate my passion for what I’m doing with how it’s received. What’s more important is I’m open to feedback, and I’m working in alignment with the reason I started this thing almost three years ago: Peachland is a special place, and we’re all lucky to live here. Yes, the lake, weather, etc etc. But the people! This is a community where, if you want to do something that serves, you’re going to find like-minded people to support you. Our community pier, the mural festival. New groups like the Okanagan Folk School. The first fall fair in three years, the return of the polar swim and run. Construction of the Hub (and the lobster dinner, raffles and events that group of volunteers tirelessly puts on.) Groups that mentor young people who bravely put themselves out there in front of judges and some strangers.
Things get done here when the energy behind it is in true service of Peachland. That’s what I want to highlight. I started The Phoenix so that Peachland has a local news source that reflects what it’s like to be here. I’m lucky to have as customers, many of the people involved in the things I just mentioned. Many subscribers are new to Peachland, and I’m grateful for that too.
And to everyone – whether you liked a post, checked out my website, looked at my subscription page, had something to say about a story, messaged me an idea – thank you. Feedback is a good thing, because it means someone cares enough to set you straight or send a nice word. And as long as that continues, The Phoenix will have a reason to be.
Happy New Year!