On My Projects

Rather a lot of my professional writing, outside of academia, has been focused on the pulp and paper industry in Canada, with a specific focus on that industry’s attempts to integrate bio-refining in an effort to diversify. It’s an interesting topic, one I didn’t expect to get into when I dreamed of writing as a child. Lately, I’ve been expanding into the entire forest industry, not just pulp and paper. I’ve written about pellets, tree planting, the industry in the east of Québec, Ontario forest tenure reforms, and the sustainability of the industry. I’ve also written about the recent attacks on the industry by radical environmentalist groups. I’ve learned more about forestry in Canada than I ever thought I would. Importantly, I’ve learned about some of the people in forestry in Canada.

I haven’t had a chance to write a story about it yet, but one of the things I’ve been struck by most in all the research and interviews is the people I talk to. Mill managers, or executives at small companies, or the Mayors of northern Ontario towns. They all share a passion for what it is they do, and a real concern for the people who are under there care, be it employees, or citizens. I’ve seen big men nearly tear up at the loss of jobs in their mill; not jobs for them, but people with families, in small communities, where their children likely go to school together. People who have worked together for years. Or citizens who have been out of work for years, because of the downturn. Or whose jobs are threatened by false claims and misinformation about the industry in general. Real concern, and real passion.

I know someone who told me that when you’re dealing with a small company, you need to pay as much attention to who that company is as to what it does. The small companies depend on their people in a way a large corporation doesn’t. And when you speak with those people, it shows: in their faces, and in their voices.

I’d like to get a story out of this idea one day, and meet even more of these people. I feel like that would be nice.

I’m also working on a project over at Idiosyncrate. It’s fun, and I like it. I hope you do to. Be sure to let me know.

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