I grew up in Moorhead, Minnesota, and my grandparents, as well as most of my extended family, had a summer home on Pelican Lake, a popular spot about 45 minutes from town. Every weekend from at least May through October, my family would make the drive down, suitcases packed with just a couple swimsuits, to spend the weekend days swimming, water skiing, boating and eating fresh strawberries. During the evenings, we’d sit around grandma’s big dining room table playing Pounce, Polish Poker or some other rambunctious card game.
The days were filled with unending fun. I loved weekends at the lake. Even the lake chores of setting the table, hand-washing dishes, yard work and babysitting seemed less work-like. I adored the company of my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, lake neighbors and even my annoying little brother.
And then Sunday evening would arrive, it would be time to go back to town, and my tears would start. Even though the next visit was less than a week away, and the drive under an hour, saying goodbye was torture. I’ve always been a crier.
All these years later — and nearly 1,000 miles away — this feeling comes to mind as I write this through tears.
Nearly 21 years after walking through the doors of the Independent (then in the Mining Exchange building) — a Minnesota transplant in my signature green Doc Martins — to take a job as a graphic designer with a company I was sure I wasn’t cool enough to work for, it’s time for me to walk out the doors.
I’ve been lucky enough to work for an institution that’s helped shape the changing culture of Colorado Springs. I’ve been able to be on the front lines with the most amazing staff as our city’s politics shifted toward the center. I’ve seen the transformation of our downtown as it filled its storefronts with new shops, bars and restaurants. I’ve cheered as our Council and mayor decided that supporting non-motorized transportation and bike-friendly infrastructure adds to a thriving city. [pullquote-1]
Together behind these doors, we’ve scrapped and replaced entire issues at the last minute, like when 9-11 devastated our country. We’ve reported through anger and tears when our very own Planned Parenthood was attacked. And after a long night of devastation (and drinking), we pulled ourselves together after the November 2016 national election and decided that our job was more important than ever.
And that responsibility remains. Journalism and America’s free press are vital to the nation’s future, and while it’s time for me to turn in my press pass, the dedicated, talented and passionate staff at the Indy — under the leadership of publisher Amy Gillentine Sweet, editor Matthew Schniper, and the local ownership and guidance of John Weiss — continue to be the tastemakers, the whistleblowers, the story-tellers and the truth-tellers of the Pikes Peak region.
In all honesty, I spent the first 10-ish years of my Springs residency trying to get back to my beloved Minnesota, but all that has changed. During my years at the Indy, I’ve engaged with so many people, companies and organizations that make our region such an amazing, unique and beautiful place to call home.
I can’t thank the past and current staff enough for making these two decades — half my life — so worthwhile. I got to get up for work each day and know that I was coming someplace where we were making a difference, and that there was no place else I was supposed to be. Thank you to our advertisers for believing in what we do and supporting us. And thank you to our readers for relying on us to keep you informed and entertained.
Finally, I can’t thank the Indy’s owner — my boss and friend, John Weiss — enough for all those years ago, giving this Midwestern girl with the green-painted fingernails a chance to use her design skills to launch into a career in alternative journalism. His belief that I was the right person to grow this company — and grow with this company — has taught me so much about media, business, Colorado Springs and life.
We live in a community where what you do as an individual and at your company can really make a difference. And while it won’t be in the pages of the Independent, I’m truly excited about my next steps in Colorado Springs.
So today, I wave goodbye from the backseat of this stage in my professional life, emotional but sure, looking forward to what I can do to continue to make this awesome place we call home a better place to live, work and play.
And I still really hate goodbyes.