Thank you, CMN
Five and a half years ago I was hired to help begin the transition from print to online publishing of Pass It On! Now that digital publication has arrived, it is time for me to pass the baton, but I literally cannot do so without echoing and strongly affirming the words of Ingrid Noyes, our interviewee in this issue’s Music with Older Kids column, “Thank you, CMN.” There is not enough space here for me to go into any semblance of detail. So I’ll just touch a few highlights. Number one has been the joy of working with Caroline Presnell, who is stepping down now as well as the production editor. As the workload of the first issue or two began to grind me into the pavement, I asked Caroline to come out of retirement and help me—ultimately to find a perfectly delightful partner in what I can only describe as the hilarious iniquities of editorial crime. The other number one has been working with Joanie Calem in her changing roles over time as songs editor, Music with Older Kids column editor, and the board’s Pass It On! liaison. She must have talked me out of quitting every year for five years by assuring me that my work was appreciated even though I was convinced that more time and energy than I could provide were required to do this job well.
Joanie also suggested that I contact and interview Pete Seeger (see the Winter/Spring 2010 issue), which turned out to be a transformative experience in more ways than I will even try to say—except to note that I went into the interview feeling burnt out about a lot of things and had to change my perspective after interviewing a man, more than thirty years my senior, who had not burnt out yet. Other number ones include: receiving a holiday card from Leslie Zak during the years when she was essentially the staff writer that I could count on to cover any slots that could not otherwise be filled; interviewing Dennis and Linda Ronberg (for the Fall 2009 issue) just prior to their retirement from their Linden Tree book store; being greeted at my first annual conference by Sally Rogers so warmly and genuinely that I almost felt as if we had grown up in the same family; continually pushing Dave Kinnoin to extend his songwriting brilliance into equally fascinating columns and having him continually do so; receiving a string of great features over the transom from roving reporter Anna Stange. There are many more number ones, but I am running out of space and must ask forgiveness of the rest of you who may or may not know who you are and who are not mentioned.
With the actual arrival of digital publication, however, it seemed like time for me to pass the editing baton, in part because of my own limitations in an increasingly digital generation. Effective editors keep up with major societal trends in reading preferences, but I use an un-smart cell phone that works great on the ten-cents-a-minute plan because it’s usually turned off. Having literally worked with the generation of computer engineers that ushered in desktop computers, I’ve got nothing against digitization, but must confess a growing aversion to the seemingly endless chatter enabled by the proliferation of electronic communication devices—despite their many and obvious blessings—that reaches back to the rapidly receding heyday of predigital television.
So the grumpy old bear in me grumbled, “Perhaps it’s time to make way for someone new,” and was promptly overruled by several cheerful CMNers who pointed out that I’d be working with enough digital-savvy people to make up for my shortcomings. But this time, there’s another factor, related to Eve Kodiak’s comment in the 2014 conference report in this issue: “And yet we still keep singing the same songs, marching, organizing. . .We shall overcome—But what? And how? How can we sing these same songs with integrity?” It turns out that I’m in the process of re-launching a project (music and storytelling, of course) that I had given up on a number of years ago. A lot of research has gone into it between then and now, to the point—from my perspective anyway—of answering Eve’s questions. So who knows? It just might work this time. Thank you, CMN. Wish me luck.
Hassaun Ali Jones-Bey