By Don Nelson
This week’s Methow Valley News will involve some heavy lifting. Included in this issue is Trial by Fire, our special magazine-style publication chronicling the Methow summer of 2014, and looking ahead to the valley’s recovery. Trial by Fire represents months of creative thinking, reporting, writing, editing, proofreading, designing and production, as well as sifting through hundreds of photographs and collecting the personal contributions of valley residents. Our entire staff and some of our freelancers were involved, and I’m proud of what they accomplished.
Including the covers, Trial by Fire weighs in at 100 pages — the biggest single project we have undertaken (although the 100th anniversary issue was quite a production as well). And we could have done more — but for running out of time, energy and resources to come up with another 100 pages. When we finally sent it to the printer last week (the Wenatchee World, which did its usual splendid job), it was with a mixture of pride in the publication, relief that it was done, and anxiety about what we might have missed.
We cover a lot of topics and territory in Trial by Fire, but we recognize that it is only one chapter of an ongoing story that not only gripped the Methow Valley but also changed the historic narrative of the place forever.
Some things in Trial by Fire will be familiar, but most of its content has never been published before. As much as we managed to include in Trial by Fire, we’re also aware of what (and in some cases, who) we missed, which is why the publication will be a baseline for more stories in the future. We’ll be looking for opportunities to broaden and deepen our coverage and I suspect the one-year “anniversary” of how it all began (about mid-July 2015) will be marked with extensive retrospection and introspection.
How this project came about is explained in the introduction to Trial by Fire, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. But it’s important to reiterate that we couldn’t have done it without the generosity and support of people who care passionately about this valley and want to see its stories told in an enduring way.
We’ve written hundreds of articles about the fires, floods and related topics in the past six months, but they are scattered throughout those weekly issues. We intend Trial by Fire to be a keepsake and one-stop resource for what happened, how it happened, and how we are responding.
We will have additional copies of the publication available starting around Jan. 2. In the near future, we’ll also be putting a digital replica of the entire publication online. Later, when we have a little breathing space, we will build an online component to Trial by Fire that will include things we couldn’t get into the print version for lack of time or space.
We welcome your comments and suggestions because Trial by Fire is a starting point for continuous storytelling and, we hope, an inspiration for more ideas.
And there’s more …
Also in this Christmas week issue is a third newspaper section featuring Christmas cards created by the valley’s second graders. It’s a project we’ve done for years, but it’s always delightful to see what the kids have to say about Christmas and to enjoy their creative artwork. We thank our sponsors for helping bring the cards to you. Ten percent of the proceeds will be donated to Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
Next week’s issue (Dec. 31) will include our annual year-in-review stories and photographs. While the last half of 2014 is fresh in our memories, a lot of other noteworthy events and interesting personalities helped define the year. We’ll revisit them, and include other information such as births, deaths and our annual list of letters-to-the-editor contributors.