Archived Story

Looking toward the future

Published 6:51pm Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It’s been said that you really know it’s the end when you start to think about the beginning.
I started working at Tallapoosa Publishers close to three years ago.
I was fresh out of school and nervous to start my first post-graduate job as assistant managing editor of The Outlook and The Record.
The first hard truth most new graduates learn out of college is that you are in no way prepared for the “real world.”
That newspaper has to be printed. Every. Single. Day.
It doesn’t matter if the source you’re looking for is out of the office that day or has been in meetings since 8 a.m. You have to find a way to make it work.
Even though I’d grown up in Alexander City and felt I knew a great number of people through my parents – people who now were direct sources for stories I was writing – I met so many more people.
I can count on one hand the number of times when a source wasn’t forthcoming, helpful and friendly. And considering the number of stories I’ve written since 2011, that is an amazing feat.
Every person I’ve interviewed for a story has taught me something about our community, about how to operate in a professional setting and about myself.
There may have been a few naysayers, a few people who had negative things to say about the stories or columns I have written or the events I’ve covered.
But what I’ll be taking with me are the handwritten notes I got thanking me for writing certain stories and the handshakes (and sometimes hugs) I got in public from people thanking me for attending certain events.
Working in the newsroom here has given me the opportunity to see a lot of beautiful parts of the Lake Martin area I’d taken for granted or never explored before my time here.
Of course I went to Jazz Fest, the Memorial Day and Labor Day concerts, and the Fourth of July fireworks shows. But I also got to hike up Smith Mountain, explore Horseshoe Bend National Military Park while learning its history, and go to the annual car show in New Site, along with dozens of other things I don’t have the space to list here.
The truth at which I keep arriving is that it doesn’t matter how beautiful an area you may live in or what assets the area has. What really makes a place worth living in is the people.
Today is my last day with TPI. In August, I will be starting at Auburn University as a graduate teaching assistant, pursuing my master’s in technical and professional communication.
I didn’t want to do a standard goodbye column, thanking my coworkers by name.
Instead, I’d rather leave on a hopeful note about the future of this place that, no matter where I reside, I will always call home.
I’ve met many people in my time here who are uncertain about our area’s future – not to mention their own. Many people have lost their jobs in the changing industry landscape, and even since the 1990s, when I was growing up in Alexander City, the Lake Martin area is incredibly different.
But I’ve met just as many people who carry a hopeful spark – people who are prepared to do what it takes to revitalize our area.
James Thurber once said, “Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around us in awareness.”
I couldn’t construct better advice to county residents.
Don’t look back in anger at what led to the changes here. We can’t continue to cling to the past, because Alexander City will never be the same – and it shouldn’t be.
Don’t be afraid of what’s coming, because the fate of the region rests on each individual’s shoulders in how we speak about the area and how we spend our hard-earned dollars.
We should all be aware – aware of our surroundings, our strengths and even what we can improve upon so we can show others why this is (and hopefully will always be) a beautiful place to live.
Spears is general manager for The Outlook.