So much happened in the Methow Valley last week.
I know this because I got a sneak preview — in the news business we call it “editing” — of the four Valley Life columns in this week’s paper.
On their own initiative, our hard-working, far-flung correspondents got together for a chat last Sunday evening at the Brix Wine Bar in Winthrop. They would only otherwise encounter each other serendipitously at valley events, as they all work out of their homes and have other rewarding careers. I’m pretty sure their much-less-than-part-time journalism gig is the lowest-paying of the lot. The columnists at the far ends of the Methow — Joanna Bastian in the lower valley and Erika Kar in Mazama — had not met each other in person.
We occasionally see them in the newspaper office, but for the most part each one of them circulates in her own orbit. I may pass along a tip or two, but I don’t tell them what to write about or how to write it. It’s original stuff, and I’m always intrigued on Monday mornings to see what rolls in from the far reaches of our valley.
They are a creative crew. At the Brix, the four of them came up with a little exercise in column writing that is both amusing and instructive. Each of them started writing their columns, right there at the high-top table overlooking the river, with the same “prompt.” As explained on the Valley Life page, “every five minutes they passed their laptops to the left, and the next person picked up the thread, writing their own interpretation of what it was like to cover their particular beat.”
Thus, Mazama went to Winthrop, which went to Twisp, which went to the lower valley, and so on. As a result, each column is multi-sourced, multi-voiced and multi-nuanced. You may be able to pinpoint authorship transitions, or not.
It sounds like fun, and a bit of challenge as well. Writing isn’t ever easy, let alone under time constraints while ruminating about the unfamiliar. I do know that a certain amount of wine was involved, but it would be impolite to ask how much. I picked up the tab, so I guess I’ll find out eventually.
My five minutes are nearly up, and I’ve got no one to hand off to. But I would like to reiterate my appreciation for the work our community correspondents do. It’s harder than you would think, if you haven’t attempted it, to write a regular column. They deliver week after week with information, insight and occasional gossipy stuff to enliven our pages and enlighten our readers. Because so much happens in the Methow Valley.
Did you hear that?
Just how noisy does it get in downtown Winthrop, late in the evening?
I really couldn’t tell you, because I’m rarely there when 10 p.m. rolls around and, by ordinance, things are supposed to quiet down.
Apparently, the 10 o’clock noise curfew has been violated at least once in recent weeks by outdoor live music. Winthrop doesn’t have a lot of noise pollution, and we all know that sound carries around here. Residents who live well beyond the legally designated 100-foot limit for a noise nuisance said they could hear the music, and found it disruptive.
The Winthrop Town Council has discussed the issue at two meetings, and seems to be moving toward more enforcement — although nobody is quite sure what that might mean, given that Winthrop is also dependent on tourists who perhaps would like their evening’s entertainment to go on a bit longer, and that there’s only so much that can be done to keep the decibels down.
Other questions have come up: What about loud cars and motorcyclces? What about music in the town’s Mack Lloyd Park? What about raucous parties? What about incessantly barking dogs? What about the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival? (The festival is outside the town limit, so it’s the county’s jurisdictional issue.)
Town Marshal Doug Johnson notes that enforcement often starts with a complaint, and he urges people to call 911 if they have a concern. Johnson’s preferred approach is a chat and a warning, with an assurance that it won’t happen again, but that may not satisfy all the council members, or residents.
The council is going to continue studying the noise issue at future meetings, and I encourage you show up if you have something to say. Just don’t be too loud about it.