For nine years I’ve chased stories in the Sierra Nevada. And I’ve enjoyed every adventure, been amazed at each discovery, and cherished finding new and lasting friends.
In this role I’ve been stretched. It forced me to learn how to carry on conversations with complete strangers.
By attending meetings of the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors, the Friends of the Library, the Merced Breakfast Lions Club, Yosemite Gateway Partners and the John C. Fremont Hospital Foundation, I started caring about the same issues you care about.
And I’ve learned more about the impact and value of clear communication, from our readers, but mostly from the editors.
One November during Thanksgiving week, I sat in a supervisors meeting, listening and scribbling notes regarding property lines in Hornitos. Then I went home and wrote feverishly on a subject I didn’t fully understand – while also preparing holiday dishes for company coming in just two days.
The story was submitted on time, but the editor replied: “If I don’t understand what you’re trying to communicate, the readers won’t, either.”
It didn’t print. And he was right.
I want to thank all the passionate, talented and caring people I’ve interviewed for inviting me into your workplaces and family spaces – this column was all about you. More often than not, while working on one story, I’d find another story lurking in the background, or you’d tell me about a friend or co-worker I should meet.
I can’t name you all, but these are a few who stand out:
▪ Kathy McCorry at the Mariposa Chamber of Commerce; Helen Willoughby-Peck, who introduced me to her stunning fused glass art; Rick and Jetty Uebner, neighbors, artisans and readers who send an occasional email with “the rest of the story”; Brent Gilstrap, the photographer who introduced me to moonbows, and Charlie Phillips, another amazing photographer; Candy O’Donnell Browne and Cara Goger of the Mariposa County Arts Council; Leslie Davis and Harmony Wheeler of Columbia and the Sierra Repertory Theatre.
▪ Dick Whittington with the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System, Jennifer Swartz and the Discover Yosemite team – all providing transportation from the Central Valley and mountain towns to one of America’s most beloved national parks; Rob Feister and other school teachers who pour love for learning into their students; Lorna Coci and the John C. Fremont Hospital employees and Foundation volunteers.
▪ Tim Johnson, American Fiddler and good friend (I hope you get that Music Guild started up here); Victoria Imrie and Yosemite Ziplines (what a great idea); Bob and Paula Pickard at High Country Health Food Store and Café (Mariposa appreciates your excellent products and service).
▪ I’m also inspired by the Pizza Factory’s triumph over tragedy, and Pioneer Market’s facelift – thanks for supporting our students and nonprofits.
▪ The directors and volunteers of the Manna House and Helping Hands Pregnancy and Parenting Center, and the church leaders and members who minister to the homeless and vulnerable within our communities.
▪ To Les Marsden and our very own Mariposa Symphony Orchestra – congratulations on all your successes. Thank you for free music education via the program notes, and for complimentary tickets allowing me to sit for two hours and breathe in the beauty of classical music.
▪ To our award-winning news team and to my readers, I want you to know how much I’ve treasured your affirmation and helpful instruction over the years.
▪ And to the foothills communities, keep doing what you’re doing to create sustainable economy for residents and provide visitors with a reason to slow down and stay awhile. You have so much to offer.
I’m blessed to live in a place rich with history, beauty and natural resources. I’ve enjoyed learning about it up close and sharing my discoveries with our readers.
But in hiring on last year with a growing nonprofit, I’ve found myself stretched too thin, and I’m unable to devote the attention a weekly column deserves. So it’s time to let go, and work on other stories begging to be written. You’ll probably still see my byline in this paper – just with a different angle and not as often.
I hope you’ll visit my blog www.debbiecroft.wordpress.com, where you’ll find inspiration and humor on the topics of family life, midlife and one woman’s life of faith.
Thanks again. Because for whatever part you’ve played in my life – I am grateful every day.