Opinion: Lisa Barber-Taylor–My time at the Observer

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Longmont Observer Holiday Party (Photo by Rick Brennan/ Longmont Observer)

I am not a fan of groups, group dynamics or myself in a group. I am typically uncomfortable and overly self-aware/self-conscious while in a group. Typically, I remain quiet and simply observe others when in a group, largely out of a sense of nervousness and mistrust. (I hypothesize that I never successfully integrated into a group in any of the situations of my life: grade school, high school, college, work, roller derby, dance class, art class, traveling, in the grocery store, not even in my own family at family dinners, birthday parties or get-togethers.) This being the case, I typically am not a joiner, as my dad calls it.

Last year, I began to make a career transition. This new career is one that I hope to do for the rest of my life. I am an editor and proofreader. I love it. I love reading. I love information. I love fitting the puzzle of words together into a seamless, flowing dissertation on a subject. I love to catch and kill errors before they go out into the world. (I might need order in a way I never fully realized before…) I knew I would need to get some experience as an editor and proofreader on a daily basis, so I asked myself where I could refine my craft and practice working in an environment that is information driven and needed support. Enter the Longmont Observer.

Last summer, I went to my first volunteer meeting for the Longmont Observer. I sat around a big table in a small office with ten other people in the Longmont Tinkermill, former home to the Observer. I met Macie and Sergio and Scott and a few other volunteers who helped the computers run, the stories flow, the content come to life. It felt good. Everyone was low-key, friendly, no nonsense. I listened and became aware that this nascent news organization was working in a very real way toward creating news while allowing everyone within it to grow their skills and learn as they go. It felt like a really safe place to be, and so I came back the next week. And the week after that. And then I was formally a proofreader. On a daily basis, I read our content and spoke with Macie and learned about the Observer and what it is trying to do. Literally, viscerally, consistently, the goal of the Observer is to hold truth to power, question our leaders, watch for associations between entities and ask why they exist, who benefits, how can our whole community grow more informed, more aware, be included in the discussion that is the town of Longmont. It’s a magical thing.

The cast of Observer characters is growing larger. Talented folks are finding their way to this newsroom, some coming on board after life transitions of their own. I got a step closer to integrating with the whole Observer crew when we had our holiday party in December. It was held on the same day as our Editor-in-Chief Macie’s birthday. I brought a bottle of Jameson to the office to celebrate with her, took a few shots and bonded with Shakeel, had a long and interesting conversation with Chris, one of our tech masters, and socialized with supporters, council members, contributors and friends. I went home that night feeling like a part of the gang. It’s the first time in a long while that I have been able to say that.

It’s the new year. I am now a managing editor. I work in our new office with the gang I have come to trust in. I assist the Observer, and more directly Macie, in ways I did not imagine I would or could when I first joined. Macie is truly the fulcrum around which this working mechanism turns on a daily basis. I added duties to my plate in order to help her move forward with the thousand plates she has spinning of her own. I continue to practice my craft, and after Macie mentioned some educational programs in copy editing and proofreading, I am enrolled in school again after ten years, pursuing a professional Copyediting and Proofreading Certificate. What I hope for in the new year is to continue to practice my craft, be a low-key, friendly and no-nonsense member of the team for the next volunteer walking in the door and continue to support the Observer as it endeavors to support us all.


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