Grand Forks Gazette office (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Local reporter bids farewell

'See you all soon,' says reporter leaving the Grand Forks Gazette and Boundary Creek Times

Before long, if you know me well, you learn that I’m a procrastinator. Frankly, I’m not as ashamed as I should be to admit it either.

Even ask Della, the Gazette and Times’ layout/design/encyclopedia of local knowledge, and she may tell you, or be too kind to say, that my late stories have held her up on more than a few production days. I don’t blame her for any choice words her steering wheel hears about me after the papers go to print.

Clearly (or at least I hope it’s clear), I don’t intend for my delays to impact others, but they certainly do from time to time. I like to think my habit gives me a chance to make things as good as possible within the given period of time, but I’m sure that if I’d thought this out better last night that version of this column might disagree. We’ll never know.

Anyways, I come clean now because I’m writing this column after 1 p.m. on a production day – my last production day with the Grand Forks Gazette and Boundary Creek Times. See? My procrastination has even impacted how I made this announcement to you, dear reader, friend, colleague and fellow citizen. I’ve known for a few weeks that I’d be leaving, but I think this time I put it off because I didn’t really want to acknowledge it. I’m excited for new adventures, but sad to leave so many unexplored here. (I’ve resigned. I’ve not yet been chased out of town.)

Reflecting on my 15 months here, I’d like to think that I’ve grown in my skills as a reporter, though I’m sure (and I hope) that many of you will agree that there is lots of room for improvement still to go. Thanks to those who have helped me improve, like Peter Kalasz and Tina Bryan – thank you for letting me shadow you at events to learn how to get the best shots!

I’ve also learned how important it is to not identify myself by what I do. I’m Jensen Edwards, reporter, to some. After 5 p.m. at City Park with the ultimate Frisbee crew, then I’m Jensen Edwards, teammate and guy who still needs to work on his hammer throw. That sort of lesson, I think, comes easier in a smaller community (the identity lesson, though this town does have some great ultimate Frisbee teachers too.) I think that for many, it is easy to be sucked into work and consumed by one’s profession, and for some that’s what they want. But, Boundary, thank you for sharing moments of recreation and education with me, Jensen Edwards the person.

Now, there are tons of faces that I haven’t gotten to say goodbye to, and those folks I say, “See you soon.” The Boundary was always part of my family’s summer road trips and, COVID-19 permitting (such an already tiresome caveat to use), I’ll be back through soon.

Going away was going to happen at some point I guess, but I admit this is a bit sooner than I had planned when I signed up. There are hikes still to go on (looking at you, Nigel) and stories to be written.

As long as I’ve been around, I’ve felt welcomed by people who had no obligation to share their stories with me and with the papers’ reach. That’s not something I think journalists reflect on enough. People’s lives continue outside of those column-inches and bleeding black-and-white type.

Newsreaders need to recognize that too. That’s what made me so appreciative to see Justin Hines’ music video, “Say What You Will.” “We are more than just a flood” was the driving premise for that project. “We are more than just ____” ought to be our driving understanding of ourselves, when we feel like we’re in a rut, or when we look at others.

Doing so – appreciating that someone is more than something they wear or what they said once – allows us an opportunity to find commonalities between mansion-dwellers and basement-renters and other dichotomous pairs.

“Karens,” the popular meme of the day for someone who wants to speak to the store manager with a complaint, are likely more well-rounded than pixie-cut. Just ask my mom (whose name is Karen and finds the meme a bit tiresome at this point.)

Insofar as parting thoughts, I’m not sure I’ve earned the right to offer anything so sweeping. I can say for sure that Grand Forks is more than just a flood and that the Boundary is more than just ranches, logging and abandoned mines, though there certainly are a lot of all three.

No one in my position could make such a definitive declaration, particularly after considering the above. I think a place is a tough thing to define, because once a definition of something so all-encompassing is settled through some public consultations and debate and revisions, its issues and substance have no doubt morphed from the starting point.

Dismissing the above, I do wish to definitely say thank you to my colleagues and my friends here. I will miss you all greatly.

Grand Forks Gazette

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