No-Bad-DaysBy Don Nelson

Moving in to a new space always starts with moving out of the old one.

We’ve been doing that, as best we can, the past several weeks as we prepare to move the newspaper’s office from 101 N. Glover St. to a building on the TwispWorks campus that was most recently used by Methow Valley Teen Center (which recently took up residence elsewhere at TwispWorks).

Our new space is smaller and more efficient, and we need to shed a lot of furniture, files, equipment and oddities that have accumulated over many years. A fair amount of it has moved out of here in recent days – sold, given away, tossed or recycled – in part thanks to last week’s “sidewalk sale.” We appreciate everyone who hauled something away, large or small.

Because the newspaper was produced here in the pre-electronic age, many of the artifacts we’ve come across date back to the cut-and-paste days of page makeup (or even farther into the past). Some we can’t identify. Their utility ended when they were shoved to the back of a cabinet or drawer to be alone with the dust bunnies.

Our paring and packing process has been something akin to archeology. We keep digging through layers of stuff that’s been here for ages – things we still use but ought to replace, things we once used and now don’t, things that look like they were never used, things that look like they were never useful. It would be interesting to know what historians would make of it all a century into the future.

They might conclude that we were excessively acquisitive. A fair amount of rat-packing has occurred here. That’s not uncommon. Newspaper offices, no matter how well-intended, usually look messy and worked in. We pile things up in anticipation of needing them for reference somewhere down the road.

This place has always had what decorators would kindly call a rustic, casually thrown-together look. It’s more like cheap chic. Our work space is a hodge-podge of desks, chairs, bookcases, lamps, copies, printers and computers that we purchased, found or borrowed as needed. If it wasn’t broke, we didn’t fix it. If it was broke, we still kept it, apparently.

That’s one side of the move. The other has its own challenges. I have been part of newspaper office moves about five times in the past. A couple of times I was involved in the design of the space, choice of materials and furniture, and other details. All of which would be delightfully easy were it not for one factor: people. Employees. Workers. They expect to have a say in how a new space feels and operates, and they should. It’s where they are going to spend a good part of their lives, in close association with other people they have to cooperate with.

When it comes to how a new space should be arranged, opinions are like – um, desks. Everybody has one. We will be occupying an wide-open space with windows here and there, electrical outlets, phone jacks and computer ports along the walls, overhead lighting, entrance doors, overhead lighting, carpeting … all of which affect potential layouts.

It’s probably not a good idea to use a war analogy, but it’s said that all battle strategies are obsolete the instant the fighting begins. Or, man makes plans and God laughs. Which is to say, plan your little heart out, and be ready to change. We have a tentative floor plan, which we will begin with because we have to start somewhere, but I’m certain we will evolve and adapt as necessary when we figure out what functions and what doesn’t. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve already said, “let’s see how it works.”

For all that, we are looking forward to the move and the staff has been incredibly resilient given all of the challenges that go with it (including putting out a weekly newspaper). Their ideas have been and will be invaluable.

I can tell you we won’t be hoarding cast-off stuff in the new building. There just isn’t enough space. Which is not a bad thing.

 

Previous Columns