Editor’s Notebook, Regulars and Shorts

Editor’s Notebook: A Brief History by Location

By Amy Brunvand

by Greta deJong The first edition of CATALYST was prepared in a spare bedroom of my house in Farmington in 1982. From there it moved to a little cottage next door, then to an Avenues apartment, then the fifth floor of the Continental Bank Building (now Hotel Monaco), courtesy of George Gregersen and his newspaper "The Enterprise;" and then, in 1986, to my house near the university. CATALYST took on another publication; and the business took over the entire first floor.

Soon we needed even more space. So we packed up our light table, waxer, cutting boards and latest Apple computer and moved to new digs downtown on Broadway. That was 13 years ago.

We ripped out the lawn, planted gardens, consulted a feng shui expert (at a time when no one in Salt Lake even knew what feng shui was), plugged in the coffee maker, cranked up the music and got down to work.

In some ways it feels like just a few years ago. On the other hand, I think of the people who have come and gone since then-staffers who became lawyers (two); moved to NYC, San Francisco or Chicago (four); published a book (one; plus many columnists have, too); had babies (six); got divorced (two). These things all take time. I think of our two office cats, who came as kittens and now don't have a lot of teeth left. Of the Dalmatians-three, then four, now two-that galloped around or slept under people's desks.

I think of how many Free Wheeler pizzas have been consumed on the premises. Of the office babies. Of long morning check-ins with co-workers over coffee, and shared meals. Of the beautiful bouquets from our own garden; of late nights. Of the neighbors-Nyal and Donna from Beehive Collectors Gallery; the kids who would play in our parking lot; the homeless people we knew by name.

It was a family, a household. And the work of making a magazine happened here.

At first, writers delivered stories as hard copy to be retyped into the computer; eventually stories came on floppydisks. Now, of course, they're emailed.

Production: We waxed and trimmed copy and ads, burnishing them to "flats," or boards, which were spread out on ledges over one wall. The rug has burn marks from where I tried to iron the wax out of the carpet. Photos were sized with a proportion wheel and sent off to be made into PMTs .

For the first few years, we shared space with TreeUtah and felt like one big family. They expanded, and had to move. We'd grown, and absorbed their space, with Michelle Royer of Healing Hands taking over a portion of ours.

We got more Macs. The Macs got smarter, and smaller. The internet got faster. The monthly drive to the printer in Tooele, after two decades, was no longer necessary. Our needs grew and we moved on to greener printing pastures, and the finished layouts flew in the night (as was usually the case) from our computer to the new printer's computer.

And then came the laptops. And wi-fi. And lo and behold, people were doing their jobs from home. Or the Coffee Garden. Or the Roasting Company or Nostalgia or the library. We're still in touch-we email like fiends. It's just different.

This is getting to be a long story. The point of which is: We are about to make an ecological move. By the end of this month  we will have transited to new digs a mile east, back to the space we occupied most previously. A fascinating array of wonderful businesses have expressed interest in the Broadway space, and we're hopeful that the right tenant will show up soon. It's a great space and we'll miss it. But we've lost weight, and you know how that goes. Our new office fits our new figure.

As we were wrapping up production on this, probably the last issue to be created in this space, I figured out that we've made 181 issues of CATALYST in our 13 years here. One hundred and eighty-one beautiful CATALYST covers in that time. More than half our entire history of 25 years is housed in this building. Compared to a weekly or daily publication, 181 issues is nothing. But CATALYST is what I do, and it's a lot to me. Even at our peak, we've done it with a very small in-house staff of clever people, usually each with a full hat rack. I expect there will be another 181 issues. I think they might be even more fun than the first 181, if that's possible. But yes, anything's possible. Stick around and see.

Greta deJong is founder, editor & publisher of CATALYST. greta@catalystmagazine.net.

This article was originally published on October 31, 2007.