From the Editor: A Place to Make Their Stand
We have a fair amount of fun here in the newsroom riffing on the age differences among the staff. One of us — a grizzled business magazine editor, say — will make a witty reference to Sheriff Buford T. Justice or maybe Glenn Frey, only to be met with an indulgent but nevertheless uncomprehending stare from a 20-something fellow editor. Later, a 20-something staff writer demonstrates how he monitors multiple social media “timelines” on something called a TweetDeck, leading to another uncomprehending stare — this time from the aging editor.
Not too many years ago, near the end of an interview with a staff writer prospect, I asked her what music was in her CD player right now. After a short pause, the 20-something candidate told me she didn’t have a CD player. She mostly used Spotify. After a longer pause, I asked her, sheepishly, to explain to me what Spotify was.
By and large, we are learning here to harness the power of this kind of age diversity, with the old hands offering the experience and institutional memory that, with hope, adds depth and context to our news report, while the younger members of our staff bring the energy and enthusiasm needed to drag us codgers into the digital era — #kicking, #screaming.
But that kind of happy synergy doesn’t disguise how challenging it is for young adults to live and work in the Upper Valley. As staff writer Aimee Caruso reports in this month’s cover story, the populations of New Hampshire and Vermont have a median age of 42.6 — the second-oldest in the country.
Enter the Upper Valley Young Professionals.
The organization got its start in 2012 and now boasts nearly 200 members. It promotes volunteerism, networking and professional development, and it has liberal definitions of both “young” and “professional.”
“Are you employed or looking for employment? … Then you’re a professional,” Beth Culver, the group’s marketing and network chair, told Caruso, adding, “You’re never too old to network and meet new people and establish new relationships within the community.”
With the support and encouragement of Upper Valley stalwarts like Hypertherm, the AVA Gallery and Northern Stage, the group is now hitting its stride, with seminars, meetings and other events filling its calendar. And, in another example of happy synergy, employers are posting jobs on the group’s Facebook page while the group’s members are offering their perspectives by participating in municipal planning and development processes.
Upper Valley businesses for years have been working to attract and — even more important — keep new entry- and mid-level employees. But because both demographics and geography have conspired to limit this mostly rural region’s social and professional opportunities, they’ve faced an uphill battle.
More than 42.6 years ago — 43.75, to be painfully exact — Glenn Frey and the Eagles advised their listeners to “find a place to make your stand, and take it easy.” Members of the Upper Valley Young Professionals are doing their part to help young workers to do exactly that right here .
— Ernie Kohlsaat