“Celebrate 75 years,” they say. “It will be easy,” they say. “Make it special,” they say. Wow. Seventy-five years. It’s a daunting task for anyone, let alone someone fairly new to the All West family. Nonetheless, it was an honor to be in on the planning stage of “75 Years of How the All West was Won!” It was hard to know where to start, because even as a fairly seasoned journalist, the task seemed daunting. Of course, there were history books and thousands of pictures in the Burlington office. And along the way, there were several people who commented about previous stories that we, as a group of celebration planners, should be sure to contact. But again, where do you dive into such a task?
We started at the beginning. Literally. All West was built on the blood, sweat and tears of men who took the responsibility seriously. They wanted to build a member/owner cooperative that was beneficial for their own businesses, but more importantly, good for others’ businesses as well.
So our summer intern, Mackenzie Gomes, and I sat down to make a list of some early founders. We wanted to seek them out, have them tell their stories, and record every second of it. We traveled to Bellingham, Washington and Fresno, California. We even traveled to Virginia. And we learned a lot about the history of All West. We also learned that cameras will auto-focus on butterflies outside of the window behind a subject’s head…just a little sidenote! But we listened to laughter and got to watch as people looked back into the past and thought about stories they hadn’t recounted in quite a while. It was overwhelming for me at times, knowing that these men put their duty above themselves. The positions they held on the board far-outweighed their personal agendas. Hopefully that’s a trend that hasn’t gone away.
While Mackenzie took raw footage from both our road trips and magically produced great end results, Allen Bush and I worked together to make a place where all our anniversary news and celebrations could be posted for the whole world to see. You can check our year-long status on www.allwestselectsires.com.
As we kick off this year, one thing has become quite evident to me. This may be a celebration that we document on this website and through stories and facts and pictures…but hopefully we’ll also…somehow…capture the emotion of All West. The pride. The laughter. The struggles. The duty. The memories. The forward-thinking ideas. And the people. For without all these things, it’s simply one more year of doing business as usual.
Thank goodness for the opportunity to stop and acknowledge what and who has made us. And thank goodness I’m one of the lucky one to experience this first-hand in the process!
(blog posts will appear on the website from several members of the All West family including Communications Manager Karen Knutsen and All West Marketing Intern Bailie Welton)