What’s your dream job? Recent college graduates are perhaps honing in on the difficult task of searching for a satisfying career, but I’m standing at my desk today thinking “what next?” I’m 55, and for the last 16 years I’ve had my dream job. I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather have done during that time than own and edit a weekly newspaper in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Not that I’m moving onto something different soon (much to the chagrin, I’m sure, of many readers and some of our staff). It’s just that time of year when my concentration begins to wander off track, thinking about where this newspaper is headed and what the future may hold, both journalistically and from a business perspective.
I don’t know if it reaches the magnitude of a moral dilemma, but I feel for the Frog Level merchants who appeared before the Waynesville town board recently. They came seeking help in dealing with the patrons of The Open Door soup kitchen that’s located in the historic business district.
The soup kitchen clientele, needless to say, are the most needy among us — some are poverty-stricken, others suffer from mental health issues, others have drug and alcohol problems — and so it is bound to come off as callous if you say you want to be rid of them.
The rioting in Baltimore has settled down and we haven’t heard much out of Ferguson, Missouri, recently. The uproar and incessant debate over what is happening in our inner cities — racism, poverty, violence, drugs, police brutality — has, for the moment, quieted down. But problems don’t go away just because they are left unspoken.
The festering wounds in those towns were on my mind as we settled down Sunday night to watch the award-winning movie “Selma.” The film is about a few weeks in Martin Luther King’s life as he organized and marched in Selma, Alabama. The marchers were specifically calling for an end to laws that kept blacks from voting, and despite the mortal dangers they faced — there were deaths in those few weeks among whites and blacks who supported the marchers — it worked. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act that same month.
He was tall, maybe 6 feet 8 inches or taller, and was standing at an intersection studying a map. My wife, Lori, and I had just dumped out from a favorite trail at Bent Creek in Asheville onto the well-used Forest Service Road 491, jogging along as we enjoyed the warm early spring afternoon.
We gave him some directions, and he asked if he could just follow along for a while so as not to get lost. His strong French accent made it obvious he wasn’t a local.
Dozing in and out of sleep on the flight home from Leon, Nicaragua, I was thinking about circles. More to the point, I was contemplating the work of my father-in-law, Bill Sullivan, at the hospital in Leon, the Hospital Escuela Oscar Danilo Rosales Arguello.
I had read something recently about people who lead meaningful lives and how they move in circles, how as they circle back to relationships, places, or important work they add layers of emotional depth to their existence. Returning again and again to those touchstones, everything becomes more relevant and worthwhile as all those interactions add up over days, months and years.
“You bet I’m happy. I feel this was only right. My goal is to improve Waynesville and set it apart as a first-class mountain community.”
— Former Waynesville Mayor Henry Foy in May 2003, upon receiving notification from DOT about the roundabout and other modifications to the Old Asheville Highway plan.
The passing of former Waynesville Mayor Henry Foy on April 15 brought back a flood of memories for me. Foy’s tenure as mayor of Waynesville (he was elected in 1991) was closely aligned with my move to Haywood County (1992) and my introduction to mountain politicians and their motivations.
Nothing would reflect better on this country than to have a rational, reasoned debate on gun violence and what steps could be taken to curb it while still adhering to the Second Amendment. One look at the statistics shows how badly this needs to take place.
But we aren’t getting close. In face, a recent law introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly would be a step in the wrong direction.
“Many of us are not living our dreams because we are living in fear.” Not sure where I came across that line, but I pasted it into my folder for column ideas and then came across it last week when it suddenly seemed appropriate.
My daughter had just skyped us from the airport in Amman, Jordan. Amman is just a few hundred miles from where some of the most horrific violence in the Middle East is taking place. And there Megan was, smiling and laughing, on her way to Istanbul, Turkey, for a 10-day vacation from her teaching job in Dubai.
My cousin has always been an inspiration. Wilton Collins Jones Jr. — he’s always been called “Corky” — is one year younger than me (54) and has been a lifelong professional musician. We were raised in Fayetteville, our mothers were sisters who both ended up divorced and raising sons as single moms. We had that single mom bond and that of family, and so we were close.
As I headed off to college, he was getting schooled in music, playing in rock bands, jazz fusion bands, duos, trios, sometimes groups that toured the country and kept him gone for long periods of time.
Google is a wonderful thing, but it sometimes makes things harder for journalists. That’s why a new emphasis on transparency among newspapers and news sites may be one of the measures that helps save real journalism and differentiates it from all that other stuff out there on the web.
“In the digital world, where information is infinite and infinitely replicable, being transparent … helps distinguish journalism from other content on the web,” writes Martin Moore, the executive director of the Media Standards Trust, in a blog post that listed the arguments in favor of transparency.