Bruce Creighton (left), President of Business Information Group, presenting me with a KRW award for Best Editorial shortly before the company bought the magazines in 2000. (Creighton still has his hair — I lost most of mine years ago!)
It felt a bit surreal last week sitting at my laptop, writing what I know will be my last “editor’s page” Editorial for this magazine. I recently gave my notice, feeling that after a quarter century at the helm it’s time to move on. It’s time to do some different things. When the current magazine editions get mailed later this month I will no longer be editor of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine, or its sister publication, HazMat Management — which is now a purely digital product (a website and weekly eNewsletter, and annual Buyers Guide print edition).
Has it really been 25 years? I never knew a quarter century could fly by so fast! And it scares me that I’m 54 years old now, and the next time that increment passes I’ll be almost 70!
I’ve had bimonthly deadlines for so long it’s in my DNA! As much as I look forward to more freedom, I’m reminded of the section in Jean Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness about “requiredness.” As much as we daydream about not having to work, we human beings like to feel needed — no doubt one reason so many people retire only to reappear as consultants or volunteers, often in their former industries.
Not being needed anywhere specifically will be the toughest part of moving on. That, and not being in touch as often with my regular contributors — an interaction I enjoy.
Notice that I don’t use the word “retirement” (at least not loudly). I wouldn’t be happy playing golf every day or otherwise goofing off. My inner compass points me toward a purposeful life of service in worthwhile causes. I’m simply retiring from the magazines, as editor.
My concept at the moment includes some bucket list items.
These include storm chasing in Tornado Alley. (I’m an extreme weather nut.) I will resurrect some long-dormant creative writing projects, and my electric guitar beckons from the corner of the living room, whispering, “play me!”
This is not a complete “goodbye.” I hope to write articles (online and in print) for these publications in future, so watch for my byline in future.
Thinking back over the past 25 years, I’ve witnessed some incredible changes.
When my business partners and I founded our little publishing company in 1989 (that we sold to the new owners in 2000) personal computing was in its infancy. We were on the bleeding edge of technology, laying out the magazines ourselves on desktop IBM clones. I recall taking the floppy disks late at night to a pre-production house so the files could be converted into linotype pages, onto which we’d paste screen versions of photos with a wax gun. The printer would later transfer images of each page to metal plates using a photomechanical process.
It all seems ancient now.
The way I look today, though the soul patch is now closer to a goatee.
Back then, a laser printer that sells for just $300 today cost us more than $10,000! (Or was it $15,000?) We bought it used, and paid it off over several years! Almost no one had cell phones, and the few models out there were large and clunky.
Probably the biggest technological change I witnessed was the birth of the Internet, which before the 1990s was the exclusive purview of a gnostic class of academics and military types. Email had perhaps the biggest impact. I still remember the first time a writer suggested she’d send me her story by email, and my reply that, “I’m not set up for that.” Can you imagine? Everything had been sent by mail or courier up until then.
I recall we were early adapters in having a company website. The functionality was quite minimal and the site was really a glorified business card or poster for the magazines — nothing like the robust interactive entities of today.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been the way it educated me about environmental issues. Editing and writing all those articles on environmental regulations, policy and technology is the informal equivalent of a post-graduate degree, I suppose. It scares me to think how much I know about topics like extended producer responsibility (EPR), anaerobic digestion, and so on that most people have never even heard of!
Moving forward, one thing is for sure: Whatever I do with my life will always include a strong environmental protection component. Environmental conservation has been a blessing of a subject to write about all these years, for which I’m very grateful. I don’t know if I’d have lasted so long if my magazines had been about trucking, or construction, or any other topic.
Perhaps the most meaningful dimension of my magazine career has been helping people, telling their stories, and searching for justice when they’ve been wronged. I’ve made many friends from among my co-workers and in this industry over the years, and value those relationships more than some of these friends may realize. The people I’ve met along the way have perhaps been the past part of it all.
And you, my readers! I will miss you very much! Thank you for your kindness and support over all these years! I look forward to seeing you again in print (or in person), some day!
Footnote: I’m leaving the magazine(s) in very good hands. The new editor, David Nesseth, is taking over the reins at the end of this year. You may contact him at dnesseth@ bizinfogroup.ca