A Crush on You

Ayear of conversations in my editorial role with What’s Up Yukon has passed quickly.

Writing about a place is a fast-track to meeting people, having a handy excuse to call almost anyone, saying, “We’d like to do a story about your event, your passion, your skill. Can we talk?” I’ve appreciated experiencing a good dose of Yukon stories told by passionate people who live here and bring events here.

I’ll be moving on to freelance work when my contract ends in mid-October, so I’m feeling a little reflective – and, excited. Excited to introduce you to the next co-editor, and excited to look back over 52 issues that showcased some groovy Yukon events.

Some of those conversations made it onto these pages as articles. What a treat to interview CBC Radio’s Eleanor Wachtel (about books), Sackville’s Pat LePoidevin (music), Berlin’s Reinald and Ermeline Nohal (art), Ross River’s Natasha Peter (photography and hunting), Dawson City’s and Whitehorse’s many, many creative, outdoorsy and athletic people (about so many things!).

Another inspiring, energizing set of conversations has been the chats – actual back-and-forth dialogues – in the background between the writers and the ideas they bring to me and Ken Bolton in our roles as co-editors.

Both of us are thrilled by the number of new-to-us voices we’ve worked with over the past year. Combined with the steady presence of long-time contributors, it’s remarkable to note how many passionate writers this small territory nurtures.

Some writers came to us out of the blue and wanted to write one-offs, which is a lot of fun (a story about the Telluride Mushroom Festival by Molly O’Riordan was a complete surprise and a pleasure). And many “once only” writers enjoyed the experience and stuck around for a few more articles (John Boivin, Lesley Grant and Christine Genier, to name a few.)

Others came as a series. Erica Bigland’s “FashionHorse” column, with its tongue-in-cheek poke at the Yukon wardrobe habit of choosing practicality over design, had a great run, as did Jeffery Mickelson’s “The Cutting Board” cooking column.

Willow Gamberg’s work as an intern this summer brought us a unique window into some of the action on the youth-driven music scene in Whitehorse. It was also exciting to have Gamberg writing for these pages, since her first publications as a writer were also in these pages and she is now studying journalism on Vancouver Island.

For me personally, the chance to work with regular columnists and get to know them through multiple articles has led to richer exchanges between us as stories take shape. There’s a core group of committed writers and photographers who make What’s Up Yukon something we’re proud of, and hope you enjoy reading regularly.

Now, let’s talk future. Sometimes a writer comes along at just the right moment, too. The Klondike Sun newspaper in Dawson City hired a Ryerson School of Journalism graduate to intern with its pages for the summer.

As soon as I heard that, I contacted Sun editor Dan Davidson and asked, “Can we hire her too?” Of course he generously said yes.

Dawson-style, I arranged to meet Alyssa Friesen for the first time on the back patio of Bombay Peggy’s. We chatted about her recent reporting work with Global News, in Toronto, her interest in music and social justice, her eagerness to bring some multimedia presence to the Klondike Sun’s internet presence over the summer. I was impressed by her drive and her lively mind.

It was a hot afternoon, and as we wrapped, a friend poked his head over the fence and said, “Don’t you think it’s a perfect afternoon for a boat ride? What are you guys up to?”

An hour later, Alyssa joined five of us in a short cruise up the Yukon River to a gravel island. We found the spot where you can shout across the water into a canyon to hear the echo, then followed moose tracks in the island’s soft muddy spots, guessing how far they would swim just to eat more willow shoots.

It was quickly clear that this sociable writer had an adventurous streak in her too, and that the Yukon was capturing her imagination.

Sure enough, as the summer went on, besides her work for the Klondike Sun, Alyssa wrote for our pages about electric trucks, people who forage for mushrooms in the woods, a farmer who grows apples north of 60.

When I spoke with publishers Tammy and Mark Beese about my decision to move on, we discussed a few resumes that had come their way from eager writers. Before long, we were discussing Alyssa’s credentials. Soon after that, an interview took place.

And Alyssa said yes.

When I asked her about her choice, she said, “When the opportunity to be a co-editor of What’s Up Yukon presented itself, there was no question. Dawson is awesome, but finally I have an excuse to explore the rest of the territory.

With a background in multimedia and online journalism (as an intern at Global News Toronto and FILLER magazine, and co-online editor of the Ryerson Review of Journalism magazine) I hope to bring these skills to WUY and find new ways to plug the Yukon into all that is northern and fun.?Like you, I got a crush on YT.”

So that’s a brief intro to your new co-editor who, with Ken, will continue to make these pages sing with the words and pictures that you send our way. Enjoy the ride.

Meg Walker is a writer and visual artist living in Dawson City.

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