Thursday, June 02, 2016
Morning Thanks--It's done. Well.
Seriously, it was a real team effort.
People use that phrase all the time, mostly because they mean it, and so do I. This magazine/book is out, the product of oh-so-many hours of work by a bunch of folks I have to thank for delivering the final product. First, Sally Jongsma, who took raw material and shaped into what's there on the page. When city officials asked if I'd take the project on, I knew if I could get Sally, a ton of my worries could end.
Thanks, too, to a handful of writers willing to do some feature journalism "on the side," all of them taking time from busy lives. We tried to pay well, but I don't think any of them were in it for the bucks. What they love to do is create. They all have the unquenchable desire to make sense of things, to listen to someone or a group of someones, and find a way to tell that story, make it clear and plain, make the content jump off the page, to take something of chaos and shape it into bright sense. They're a great bunch.
When one member of the city council wondered aloud whether having a publication for the town's 125th birthday was worth it, when he said, "Why? Nobody reads those things anyway," I made readability a priority. I wanted people to pick this up and read it.
I love history, spend most of my time reading history, it fact. I'm not for a moment pooh-poohing a history text; but a 125th birthday is not a major event and therefore allows some elbow room. Besides, Sioux Center suffers no shortage of history texts for those who'd like to study the place and its history. Those books are there, on the shelf, if you need to look things up.
But this job was going to result, I told myself, in something people would not only put on their coffee tables, but also actually pick up and read. I wanted something that felt almost like a book but looked for all the world like a magazine. It had to be a good read.
How? Human interest. I told myself human interest would make the project irresistible, lively stories about interesting people. We needed to cover some significant community events--the coming of Wal-Mart, the new downtown mall, a sprawling Pella Windows factory, the incredible diversity that's come to a village that not long ago wore wooden shoes. We'd write all that, but we'd do it by character, by people, by warm hearts. Cold, hard facts have their place, but I wanted to muscle that town councilman into picking up and reading the magazine.
In that cause, I had great help.
One day, months ago, a Farmers Coop Society mailing caught my eye. I went in to the FSC office and asked who did their design. "Agency 212," the woman said as if I should have known. I had no idea who Agency 212 was. She told me, even pointed. A professional whose opinion I regard highly told me to go with a business, a business who takes on the whole project--from text to publication. We did some flirting with free-lancers, but I'm grateful for the advice because Agency 212 took the content off our hands, listened to our hankering, even took our criticism, and turned out something totally delightful. I'm so pleased.
Took a ton of work. I spent more time going from business to business in town pedaling ads, more time raising money than I did in my whole working life. I tried to shape a magazine that felt like book, a book that read like a magazine.
And today for the very first time, people can pick one up and discover for themselves if we accomplished what we wanted to do.
I think we did. I'm thrilled with We Call Sioux Center Home. When it comes to punctuating that title, I want you to know I've got choices and I'm italicizing as if it were a book because it's not just a magazine. I think it's a whole lot more.
I'm proud of it, dang it. I'm proud of the teamwork, the efficiency, the look and feel of the thing. Go ahead. Call me vain. I don't care. We Call Sioux Center Home turned out just as fine as I ever imagined.
And, this morning, thankful.