From Where I Sit – Explore Your Own Backyard

In the past few days, I’ve begun work on a 2012 tourism guide that covers part of east-central Alberta. My role is multi-faceted.

First, I edit the information people submit about their communities. There are the basics, like population, location, and contact info, and additional categories for attractions, history, and outdoors. The guide covers a wide range of places: from hamlets with a handful of residents to a city with more than 15,000 people. The attractions section includes everything from Andrew’s world’s largest mallard to Fort Saskatchewan’s state-of-the-art recreation complex.

The challenge for the publishers and me is to make the information fresh, user-friendly, and proportionate to the amount of ad space sold. The challenge for those submitting the information is to capture the essence of their community and gather event information for up to a year in advance.

The second duty I have is making sense of the hundreds of listings submitted to the events calendar. Individual listings need to include the when, where, and what of the event. Then they are set in a chronological master list that covers March to December. With plans for a bigger, better, and searchable online guide, that listing will be expanded to include contact information and a short description. The amount of work could make a grown woman cry.

In each issue of the guide, a person of historic or cultural significance is profiled. My third task is to do the interview and write the article. I’m trying to schedule that now so I can spread out my workload.

The guide also includes listings for Farmers? Markets, campgrounds, golf courses, and accommodations. An expanded section on culinary tourism is in the works. More people are now interested in where their food is coming from, how it is prepared, and how they can shorten the distance from farm to fork.

So why should any of this matter to you?

I believe most people turn to either print or online publications like this guide when planning day excursions or longer getaways. It’s interesting to discover what goes on behind the scenes to bring a publication of this sort to print?not to mention the long lead time That’s required to get the work done and the book in the hands of people at the right time. Understand that there is a small army of people gathering, submitting, editing, and presenting the information in a useable way.

More importantly, all of us come from somewhere. Whether we live in a hamlet or a big city, someone is charged with the duty of spreading the word about the community. The tourism and promotion budget may range from just good intentions to millions of dollars. As individuals we have the power to spread the word about what makes our home area attractive and worthy of a visit. We can support those brave entrepreneurs who invest in tourism businesses. We can thank the selfless volunteers who make special events happen on a shoestring. Exploring our own backyards is smart, from where I sit.

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