On the Cover: Women with Issues (24 per year, to be precise)
It’s the Tuesday night of what we call Grapevine Week. By Thursday, The Grapevine newspapers will be hustled around the Valley, dropped off on countertops and waiting room tables across towns and villages, and everything in-between.
At this point, most of the work is already done. Mike Butler has conducted his biweekly interview for the Who’s Who. Melanie Priesnitz has already pondered the seasonal offerings of the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens and worked her thoughts into a report for the Acadia page. The organizers of the Church fundraiser dinners, the boardgame nights, the open mics, the opening shows, and the library programs have already sent along their details. Donna, our copy editor, has given everything the once-over. Alex has set the What’s Happening section into the logical sequence of a legible list, Zoe has sold the ads, David has designed the ads, and we’re all waiting anxiously for the issue to take it’s final form.
It might be 5pm or it might be 10pm, emails ping back and forth: “Is the proof in?”
“Any ETA on the proof?”
Maybe this sounds like any publishing production. Timelines are elastic, technical issues abound. Our situation might be unique though. The email chain continues, “Just checking in. Jesse’s in NFLD, so I’ve got the kids by myself – do you have any idea what the timeline on the proofing might be?”
Response: “Putting Harlow to sleep now. Be back in half an hour-ish.”
Silence on the line for a bit.
Someone else chimes in, “I’ll be available on and off this evening. I’m just bustling around getting backpacks and things ready for tomorrow, so nothing much that can’t be interrupted.”
Things have come a long way since the humble beginnings of this little newspaper. Legend has it that when Adam Barnett started The Grapevine back in 2004, he gathered the details of local events and happenings by cruising around Wolfville, copying down information from posters as he found them plastered around town. When he handed over the reigns to local musicians Andy Flinn and Ariana Nasr in 2007, the newspaper was still an eight page letter-sized affair. Jeremy Novak and Jocelyn Hatt took over in 2009 and they expanded the distribution and transformed the paper into its newsprint form. For the past while, the newspaper has been operated by us: Genevieve Allen Hearn, Monica Jorgensen, Jocelyn Hatt, and me (Emily Leeson). While we’ve been the owners and operators for the past year (in fact, most of us have been on board with the paper for much longer that), we’ve hardly had a moment to introduce ourselves. We’ve been a bit busy. In fact, you’ll have to indulge us a bit – we weren’t quite done with that proof yet.
Nine o’clock and we’re all back online. No one’s in the office space we rent beneath The Box of Delights on Main Street, Wolfville. While at least one of us might be checking in on an iPhone while tiptoeing away from a sleepy child, and someone else might be settled in a comfy chair ‘office’, more likely than not we’re at kitchen tables. The kids are finally asleep and we’re ready to read through the final proof of the paper, our sneak-peak into the issue before it’s printed. Also our last chance to spot any errors. Zoe’s already been through to make sure that all our ads are looking sharp and ready to report for business. On an especially good night, she might even be over at my house, waiting to enjoy a post-proof glass of wine (fun fact, Zoe is actually our saleswoman and my sister, and Monica and Joss are actually cousins. The Grapevine really is pretty family-oriented.)
Elsewhere in the Valley, Joss has likely been working all day at this point. For years now, we’ve been telling contributors that The Grapevine is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. I think that Jeremy may have been the one that came up with the phrase we find ourselves using so frequently. If you’ve ever emailed us with a story idea, you’ll likely have heard, “We’ll try to fit in what we can but it’s usually a bit of a jigsaw puzzle!” And miraculously, we usually do. That’s because if The Grapevine is a puzzle, Jocelyn Hatt is the puzzle master. Stitching together the colour ads, the black and white blocks, the event posters, the lists, and the articles, Joss is the one who takes the text and produces a paper.
When that initial proof of the paper is produced, we all leap into action.
Genevieve is in Kentville and, as the Operational Manager, she’s our compass. She manages the meetings, keeps our business doing business, and organizes, well, everything. She also writes and, as you might have expected, proofreads the proof. If we’re lucky, her new baby Kelton might sleep through the few hours she needs to read through the paper.
Monica’s kids are a bit older. She’s in New Minas, and in all likelihood, she’s beaten us all to the proof. She’s pretty quick. She’s also our collector of our lists and events. If it happens in this Valley, she knows about it. She’s all over the proof. She’s the one who will catch those issues that need keen eyes and an actually functioning brain: Have we accidentally placed the wrong Star Drop comic in this issue? Monica will find it.
In reality, I should be in charge of the proof. It should be primarily my own eyes that spot the misplaced commas or production marks that accidentally make it through one program’s formatting into another. So how is it that the whole team gathers together to ensure that we have done our best job, issue to issue? It was pretty simple really. A while back when we lost our dedicated proofreader, and the job should have naturally landed on my plate, I was still getting up every few hours with my youngest. Sure I could likely do the job on my own, as long as everyone was OK with the cover occasionally reading The Grapewhine. At the next staff meeting, the consensus of the mothers around the table was simple: We’ll figure it out. Together.
That’s the way it’s been for the last year. We’ve been quietly balancing our families, our other jobs, and this paper together. Our staff meetings almost always include a baby hand-around. Snow days shut production down. Strategy sessions can include some youngster to younger youngster babysitting while the Moms chart out a year of annual events, festivals, and community happenings.
And every other week, it works! The proof comes along, the edits get made. *The Grapevine Newspaper* makes its way to the printer and then we drop the kids off at school.
We’re making it work, and a year in to our new ownership, we’re pretty proud of ourselves. So, as a group of Moms who very rarely make it to the other side of the camera, we hope that you’ll indulge us with this cover. Covergirls? Maybe not. Working Moms making it work? That’s what we’re aiming at.
Now speaking of a few changes around here, you may have even noticed that something seems a bit different about this issue. It’s a bit roomier, a bit more spacious. Things just seem a bit more comfortable. Well, welcome to our new paper! We are very excited to report that this new paper comes from sustainable forests and is Forest Stewardship Council certified. We’re all about the future of this beautiful place, and we couldn’t be happier to have you here, reading along with us!