Ellen Schowalter: On turning 40

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Much has changed in the Glebe since I served as editor of the Glebe Report in 1986-87, and during the 20 years that I served in different capacities such as ad manager, art director, layout designer, volunteer carrier and Board chair. But one thing that has not changed is the important and very successful role that the Glebe Report plays. Lansdowne Park, traffic, densification, and parking and Lansdowne Park (sound familiar?) were the big issues then as now, but have become even more problematic. Every year saw the banner headline “The Ex will move.”

Producing the paper today is very different because of advances in technology. In the olden days we would push our hoop skirts aside and gather round the layout table to cut and paste text typed on the IBM Selectric. Corrections were done with a steady hand and economically, with whiteout and an exacto knife. Photos were a big deal, taken on film, developed in one hour at the fastest film service; they were not manipulated except for the occasional bit of airbrushing. One memorable day, Meredith Olson, advertising manager and super layout artist, and I biked downtown to purchase the Glebe Report’s first answering machine. (The Glebe was already a nation of walkers and cyclists.) Proofreading and fact-checking in those days were far more labour intensive and required more staff.

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Ellen Schowalter speaking at The Pantry, January 2000. PHOTO COURTESY OF CLYDE SANGER.

By nature, a monthly newspaper provides room and time for in-depth articles and features that are magazine- like: essays, reviews, short stories, poetry, travel pieces, photo spreads and artwork. In the future, an enhanced website and use of related social media will provide notices and feedback in a more timely manner, but on the downside, every day would be press day, or maybe, stress day.

I was very fortunate to work with a wonderful group of people. Trust, co-operation and support for each other were huge job benefits. Long days and sometimes nights and holidays were fuelled by cups of tea, and a supply of red licorice along with muffins from The Pantry. If child-care arrangements fell through, staff would bring their children in to be settled at a desk with paper and drawing materials to provide illustrations for “Kidspace.” There were several honorary canine staff members as well. The Glebe is home to many talented writers, artists and people with very highly developed skills in every field who have shared their knowledge and experience so generously over the past 40 years.

Trying to represent fairly, and in a balanced way, the many different viewpoints and interests of such a diverse community remains a huge challenge. The Glebe Report has been and continues to be a remarkably stable and strong community builder. Happy birthday GR, and many more!

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