When I first walked into the Peace Arch News office, it was as a journalism student.
The office was located on Johnston Road then, almost next door to the KFC with the vintage bucket out front, where the smell of the restaurant’s deep fryers turning on every morning would permeate the neighbourhood with finger-licking fumes.
There were no highrises built yet in White Rock.
Hardy Staub was the mayor.
No one had to pay for parking along Marine Drive.
The Internet was in its infancy, and no one had heard of Google.
Survivor was still a brand-new TV show and it was the dawn of reality television.
There weren’t any iPhones and digital was a word associated with wristwatches from the 1980s.
Working on a practicum to gain real-world experience before I graduated, I was excited to be reporting in one of my favourite seaside communities of all time, with its famed pier and white rock.
I was shocked to find the newsroom still used actual, physical flats – in journalism school, we had all been trained in Quark Express and taught that newspapers were sent to press electronically, or online – and someone giggled when I didn’t know what a waxer was.
“No – she’s right,” longtime PAN production manager Jim Chmelyk defended me, Exacto knife in hand, used for precisely cutting out tiny ads for the classifieds section as he walked among the tables the flats were laid out upon.
“She’s the future. Flats are going to be extinct within a few months.”
He was right.
Gone are the days of waxers and flats, photographers and film cameras and dark rooms, as the advent of the digital age has meant most industries have had to evolve to adapt to a world that is more online and more virtual every day.
Change can be terrifying.
But as much as we may rail against it and resist it, it becomes more obvious that, as the saying goes, life is flux.
The only constant in life is change.
It’s an ever-changing path that may lead you from what you thought your plan was, to take you (hopefully) somewhere better than before.
Or return you to a place that is familiar and a comfort to your soul.
And even better than you remembered.
From practicum and summer student at Peace Arch News to the Parksville-Qualicum Beach News on Vancouver Island, from the Abbotsford Times, back to PAN, to New Local Home and RenoNation, my roots in community journalism led me into the communications industry, where I worked for several years before focusing on my own, personal writing and eventually, helping my husband with a busy, home-based business that he now runs day-to-day.
I’ve learned so much from so many people along the way and have made so many new connections and friendships.
While it hasn’t always been all blue skies and lollipops – I don’t think anyone can claim life is always easy, all the time – sometimes it takes change for us to see things from a different perspective.
The grass can always be greener on the other side of the fence.
And a change is as good as a rest.
Having come full circle, back to my community journalism roots in a beloved community, I’m thoroughly enjoying being back where it all started – with a few familiar faces who have been here long enough to remember me.
So many things have changed so much.
And so much has remained the same.
Same issues at city hall, same issues for city residents and businesses, same annual events.
Will I feel the same a year from now? Five? 10?
I really think I will.
Tricia Weel is, once again, a reporter with the Peace Arch News.