- A young Paula Routly and her sister
I was 35 when we started Seven Days. On Monday, I turned 60.
I had planned to be in Mexico for the occasion — frankly, to avoid the whole thing — but instead I was glued to the computer, in my home office, in the middle of a pandemic, sweating into a bathrobe I have been wearing for the last month.
I'm not big on birthdays, but when you're born in a year that's divisible by 10 — in my case, 1960 — you can't help but fast-forward to the momentous ones. In 2000, four months into the new millennium, I turned 40. Two decades hence, I knew this one would fall during a leap year with Olympics and a presidential election, but I had not counted on the biggest global economic shutdown since the Great Depression.
In short, this was not how I pictured my 60th. Anyone celebrating a milestone right now surely knows what I mean.
In truth, nobody could have imagined how we're all living today: hunkered down in our respective safe houses, socializing on computer screens that look like the old "Hollywood Squares" game show, venturing out to score supplies like masked survivalists.
Seven Days has been documenting the new reality, from the medical preparations and budget impacts to takeout trends and livestreamed concerts. In her "Stuck in Vermont" video last week, Eva Sollberger found great examples of local communities getting through this tough time together in creative ways.
This week's issue of Seven Days marks the fourth we've put out remotely. The once-bustling office is pretty much abandoned, except for a few occasional employees. Instead of poring over the paper together, looking for last-minute errors on Tuesday nights, we are communicating via Slack and scrutinizing finished pages on a computer server.
It's slower, and harder on the eyes, but it seems to be working.
Similarly, we're finding new ways to sustain Seven Days financially. Iconic Vermont businesses have stepped up to support our local journalism. And thousands have sent donations or become paying Super Reader subscribers — or both. An outpouring of community support has given us the confidence, and the cash, to keep going.
It's one example of Vermonters coming together to preserve what matters to them — and there are other bright lights in this week's issue, illuminating a path of hard work and good deeds through this dark time.
I can't think of a better birthday present.