I could not have foreseen when I left Door County in 2008 that I’d be introducing myself 12 years later as the new editor of the Peninsula Pulse. But as we’ve learned more than ever during the past seven weeks, the future holds its cards pretty close.
I left Door County to live in the mountains of Arizona, on the border of Mexico, to make good on my graduate school novel that was set in that locale. It was a move I would blame on the incomparable Norb Blei, were he still with us to lay blame against, may he rest in peace. But that’s a story for another time.
Only months it took before I realized I was a Northern woman; only weeks, perhaps, before I realized newspapers were in my blood, not sitting in a room by myself writing about people who existed solely in my imagination. Redirecting, I was hired by a newspaper in southwest Minnesota, where I ran the newsroom for the past 11 years.
What I learned during that time, the experience I gained, are irreplaceable. Living in the land of Minnesota Nice, with a culture code that takes some time to crack – another story for another time – came with other lessons. Suffice it to say that I was living outside the echo chamber, something I’d now recommend for anyone who wants to grow in ways they didn’t realize they had to grow.
During all that time, Door County had never left me. My heart friends were made here, and this achingly beautiful thumb of land had left its print upon me. Still, I couldn’t actually go home again – not if I didn’t want to leave my profession. The castration of the once great Door County Advocate, where I had worked for eight years, had been completed within months of my leaving to become less than a shadow of its former self.
Meanwhile, that scrappy upstart that used to give us fits at the Advocate – the Peninsula Pulse – kept growing beyond any conventional knowledge about what newspapers do in a digital world, eventually taking on the essential role that strong communities and democracy require: that of a local community newspaper.
The Pulse led then, and it’s leading now. Once the dust settles from this global pandemic and we brush our dazed selves off to move forward with our lives, the leaders of this time will have clearly emerged, elected or otherwise. The Pulse will be primary among those leaders.
All to say it was the right move for me to accept the offer when it came from Dave Eliot and Myles Dannhausen Jr. to leave the Minnesota newspaper for which I had opened a vein and the organic vegetable and chicken farm that my longtime partner had cultivated while we were there. We’ve left it all better than when we arrived. To be able to say that about anything is a gift I’m not convinced I’m worthy to receive, but receive it I have.
If who we are depends upon where we are, and where we are depends upon which relationships we choose to honor, I’ve decided to honor those relationships I have here to both the people and the land – and from this time forward, to the Peninsula Pulse.
Myles will still be all things to all people, coordinating our content on every platform, and Dave will still be the man who has enabled everything he created here to continue. But I take seriously the role they’ve offered me, and I intend to fill it with an abundance of experience and my passion for newspapering.
Good or bad, never hesitate to contact me.