The article: ‘Tis the Season to be Avi Savvy
The story behind the Top Story:
In February, Nick and I moved to Durango. The day we rolled into our new lives, local skier 23-year-old Peter Carver was buried in an avalanche. Over the next week, we unpacked our lives and watched the community surround the Carver family. Not knowing anyone, we attended the memorial service the following weekend, which confirmed what we’d hoped to find upon moving here. Hundreds of people crammed into the Discovery Museum, hugging, crying, and laughing out the grief. Slideshows, speeches, and even a marching band filled the evening with an outflow of sympathy and celebration over the life of a kid who lived and loved large.
At one point, one of the speakers at the event said, “If you want community, Durango, look around.” We did and then looked at each other. Our unvoiced expressions agreed: we should stay here for awhile.
In response to this profound experience, I wrote a letter to the editors of Durango’s two local newspapers entitled Durango Community Delivers. The letter addressed the silver-lining of this tragedy and was published in both papers. It ended up leading to a number of connections for us in the community throughout the year. We even used Peter’s dad’s brewery, Carver’s, for our ‘rehearsal dinner’ locale the night before our wedding.
Nine months later, Nick, now the marketing manager at local outdoor gear shop, Pine Needle Mountaineering, is in charge of promoting a benefit for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) on December 4th. He asked me if I could see if one of the papers in town would be keen on an article featuring the CAIC. I wrote two queries: one to Durango’s weekly publication, the Telegraph, and the other to the legendary Herald, one of the only daily newspapers in the country that is still used for the classifieds.
I first wrote the Telegraph, considering it’d be ideal for the article to run for a week. Secondly, I copied the wording and switched references about the Telegraph to fit phrasing appropriate for the Herald. Or so I thought.
Immediately after sending my pitch to the editor of the Herald, I got an email back with the response, “Ms. Martin, I do not work for the Telegraph.” That was it. My heart skipped a beat as I looked over the email I’d sent him. And there it was. I told him “…I’m proposing an article be featured in the Telegraph…” Oops.
I quickly wrote him back, apologizing for the embarrassing oversight and sent him a fresh pitch. No dice. I still haven’t heard back from him.
No word back from the Telegraph either. Great. I’m the worst writer on the planet.
Five days later, Nick and I are heading to Wolf Creek for our first ski turns of the season. I get an email from the editor of the Telegraph. She’s game for me to write the article. 1,000-2,000 words. Could I get it to them by the next morning? She understood if I couldn’t swing it.
Couldn’t swing it? She clearly didn’t know who she was talking to. I wrote her back and told her I was in. We continued on to Wolf Creek Pass and skied under blue skies in deep powder, played with our new avalanche equipment, and then drove back to Durango. I spent the early evening making phone calls for interviews, including a conversation with Peter Carver’s mom, Karen. The next four hours, I wrote and read aloud drafts to my live-in editor, who patiently listened and critiqued and eventually fell asleep.
The next morning, I fired off my first full-length article ever and held my breath. After checking my email incessantly, waiting to hear if the piece was received well, Nick and I packed up skis and headed for Coal Bank Pass. No email connection for the rest of the afternoon. When we got back to the car, I checked. Boom. She said, “Well done.” The article is a go.
And so here it is, the Top Story even – live, floating around town now and sitting on the tables around the coffee shop I’m in right now.