I have literally been lost on the Washington, DC beltway–that multi-lane asphalt loop around our nation’s capital–for hours, unable to find the correct exit or get over to the left or right in time to make an exit.
The “beltway” is the common shorthand for the boundary around the peculiar environment known as our federal government.
I have made three trips to DC this fall and while all were work-related each had its own focus and purpose.
In September, our web manager Dale Hobson, membership director June Peoples and I went to NPR headquarters for an intensive training session on digital storytelling, with an emphasis on the use of photography. June came away with some fresh thinking about improving membership and outreach materials. Dale and I decided to partner on a long-term project focusing on local history through collaborations with libraries, historical associations and other community organizations. The plan is approach this undertaking on a town by town basis. More on this as planning and implementation go forward in 2014–and many of you will be hearing from us as we seek help from people across the region.
Earlier this month, I participated in the annual NPR-hosted “Weekend in Washington” as the guest of NCPR friend and NPR Foundation Board member Margot Ernst and her husband John. This is a three-day event designed to introduce new public radio friends to NPR staff and current projects. My takeaway from this event: people from all walks of life and all political persuasions care deeply about the work being done by public radio.
Finally, I just returned from a week in DC during which I attended a gathering of station representatives from across the country who had come together to grapple with some of the hairier challenges facing our industry. NPR also held its annual membership meeting (“members” being stations like NCPR).
The takeaway from the past week: collaboration will underpin much of our work in coming years. Collaboration between NPR and member stations, collaboration between NCPR and public media colleagues across the state and region, collaboration between NCPR and other commercial and non-commercial journalists (e.g., www.northcountrydaily.com), and, perhaps most importantly (see Dale and Ellen project mentioned above as an example), collaboration between NCPR and other non-profit organizations, community agencies, and other groups and individuals across our region.
All of these excursions were productive. But, you know what? I am so glad to be back on the other side of the beltway. Seems to me that we have less clutter on the landscape, that we’re less likely to lose our way about what matters and what doesn’t. We have a better vantage point for taking stock of what needs to be done…and doing it. It’s easy to lose one’s way inside the beltway. Hmm…maybe Congress needs to relocate to the north country…