My newspaper work continues from home. The phone interviews are working better than I expected. Everyone else is working from home, too, so perhaps we all are excited to talk to someone from outside our house. Coronavirus has taken over the news cycle and most of our stories deal directly with COVID-19 or how it affects some aspect of our lives. I've written about lowering gas prices, how realtors are dealing with the stay-at-home order, and how food security is threatened by the current situation. I've been trying to get out for a walk or bike ride or both, and realized that this is a chance to look at our own neighborhoods more closely. That became the topic of an editorial.
Like many people today, the newsroom is now moving into our homes. We packed up our notebooks, computers, cameras, and supplies and took them out the door. We will be working remote indefinitely. It will be strange doing interviews only by phone and trying to find photos to accompany articles. This will be a challenge.
The Minnesota Newspaper Association held their annual convention in the Twin Cities on January 30. In the evening, they held their awards ceremony, and I placed third in the Sports Feature category for a story about a Red Wing woman who has had a successful run in a major roller derby league in Los Angeles and has skated in the National Championships and World Cup.
Last May our staff created a magazine about the commercial, recreational, and ecological aspects of living along the Mississippi River. It is titled "The River is Life," and it placed first in the Special Sections category. I was involved in five of the stories included in that publication. It is available only in print form, so I am unable to include a link here, but I am very pleased with how it turned out and how it was received, both by our readers and by the contest judges.
The article in EdSurge caught the eye of the editor of educational podcasts at Class Dismissed. He interviewed me, and the result is this podcast which is Number 125 in their series. There is some introductory material which is interesting, or if you prefer to go directly to the part about SSR, it begins at 14:20 into the podcast. Nick did a great job with this.
A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by a writer from EdSurge, an online education journal. We discussed SSR - sustained silent reading, a practice that I used for 38 years in my high school English classroom. Even though I am retired from teaching, I still believe that SSR is the most important thing I did with my students to help them learn to enjoy reading and become better, more self-motivated readers. The article was published in EdSurge on October 7.
For the past 55 years, Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, has hosted the Nobel Conference, a two-day event that brings in noted speakers who focus on a single topic and examine it from many angles. This year the conference was called Climate Changed - yes, in the past tense. It featured a host of noted speakers and we really enjoyed the thoughtful discussions. Next year, the topic is cancer, and we plan to attend again. What a great idea for a conference.
As part of the 101 Things To Do in RiverTown series that I have been working on this year, I interviewed the owner of St. Croix Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Hudson, Wisconsin. He invited me to take their introductory scuba diving class, so I did. He explained the things I would need to know to operate the breathing system, then took me to the YMCA swimming pool to try it all out. Taking those first few breaths underwater was a weird sensation, but then I got used to it and really enjoyed it. My 101 article on scuba diving will be in RiverTown publications in December.
I interviewed Dave from Eagle Hang Gliding in Lake City and he invited me to go on a tandem hang gliding flight with him. He launches the glider from a cable on the back of his boat, flies over Lake Pepin, and then lands in the water on pontoons he has attached to his hang glider. He has created an incredible system and the flight is a new way of seeing the Mississippi River valley. I'll be writing two articles about this - one on how he created the equipment necessary to launch from and land on the lake, and a second article about the experience of flying with him. These articles will be part of a special magazine published by RiverTown Multimedia in May 2020.
The National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota, is a beautiful facility with a dedicated staff that helps visitors understand the environment of the region and how eagles fit into the ecosystem. I recently contacted the center to see about becoming a volunteer and learned that they needed some help writing articles for their quarterly newsletter, Wingspan. We discussed this, and I have written three articles for the summer and fall issues. I am excited to be working with such a fine organization.
One of the interesting things about living in this area is the amount of activity created by the Mississippi River. There is commercial use, recreational use, and wildlife use, and those often involve many agencies along the river. I had the chance to go to Lock and Dam 4 near Alma, Wisconsin, to attend a water safety rescue training session with members of area fire departments, natural resources agencies, and others. The highlight was practicing rescues from boats right at the edge of the dam gates.
Photo by John Jancik
Dr. Steve Gardiner is the author of six books and over 1,000 articles.