SpruceRoots - Stories
I have to tell you that my dishwasher has been acting up for three months. Oh, sure, it still washes the dishes, but it shrieks in mechanical protest as it’s going through all its cycles, which takes a full excruciating 70 minutes for each load. And so, in order to preserve my eardrums and sanity, I was on the verge of going back to scrubbing dishes by hand when I accidentally discovered that the screeching stopped if firm pressure was applied to a long skinny panel located near the bottom of dishwasher. I discovered this the day I hauled off and kicked it. So, now, whenever the noise becomes overwhelming, I stand in the kitchen with my foot jammed up against the skinny panel.

The sliding door that opens to our back porch doesn’t open any more unless I wrestle with it. I have to grab the handle with both hands, give it a mighty yank, and lean sideways until my left shoulder’s almost touching the floor, to get it halfway open. And then I go through the same set of gymnastics, while tilting in the opposite direction, in order to close it. Visitors who arrive at the door are always impressed with my strenuous exercise regimen and marvelously muscled forearms.

And now, just when I was thinking that nothing else could possibly go wrong with my life, I’m told that SpruceRoots is shutting down. SpruceRoots – the Islands’ journal that, for a decade, has worked hard at informing us, startling us, probing us, elbowing us, entertaining us and, more than once, helped spur communities of Haida Gwaii to function as a single, powerful entity in order to accomplish things more quickly and less painfully—is shutting down.


SpruceRoots’ editor says that ten years is a long time and everyone in the shop is kinda pooped. Well, I’m exhausted, too, from dealing with the dishwasher and door. But I’m not too tired to express my true admiration for Simon, JB, Leslie, Cindy, Ian, Yaku, John, Berry, and all of the other folks who contributed their time, incredible talents, and extensive knowledge to make SpruceRoots a publication that enriched my life enormously.

SpruceRoots pried open my eyes at a time when I was probably very busy trying to keep them slammed shut. The stories, photos, cartoons, and illustrations on its pages weren’t always pretty but they invariably made me think. And sometimes I agreed with what I was reading and sometimes I didn’t. I recall instances when I literally jumped up and down, rejoicing over the fact that SpruceRoots was slapping certain tough issues down on the table for discussion. I remember other times when I was hopping mad about it doing the same thing with other tough issues. Today, I am wholly and unabashedly grateful for everything SpruceRoots served up because it prompted open, widespread, local discussion and debate about a myriad of issues that had been squashing us into bitterness and all the other destructive things that go along with it.

SpruceRoots also challenged us to think outside the box. It helped us understand more fully why other people’s opinions don’t always match our own. But most of all, it reminded us to pay attention.

And over time, SpruceRoots morphed into something more than an environmental journal. As much as anything else, the publication became a reflection of you and me. It’s a well-polished mirror that allowed us to see clearly our formidable human strengths and potential, as well as our formidable human weaknesses and frailty. The lands and waters of Haida Gwaii were reflected in the same way. And, of course, it was always a looking-glass that never stopped presenting visions of mindful ways in which people, and cultures, and owls, and lichens, and berries, and oceans, and trees, and, yes, even industry, might live together more comfortably and securely on today’s Haida Gwaii.

And, so, I admit I’m more than a little worried about what’ll happen when the mirror disappears—when SpruceRoots is no longer around to remind us that we have some spinach stuck between our teeth; or that all things considered, we’re lookin’ pretty good; or that there’s something standing behind us, peering over our shoulders. I don’t want us to lose sight of ourselves, or of what tip-toes up behind us. I don’t want us to forget to pay attention.

Therefore, in light of this looming dilemma, I strongly suggest that everyone sit down right this minute to compose letters demanding that SpruceRoots continue to exist. And then we’ll get a big-ass petition going, put up posters all over the place, and picket the Gowgaia office en masse. We’ll march smartly and defiantly through the freezing rain and up the driveway, brandishing our pickets (fashioned in the shape of oversized SpruceRoots journals, and decorated with the logo), shouting “We’re standing in our gumboots, calling on SpruceRoots!!” over and over again. Of course, the sheer noise of it all will eventually force management to come outside and explain themselves, and then they’ll likely try calm us down but we shall staunchly refuse to cease and desist, and then...I just know this whole paragraph is gonna be edited out.

There isn’t much more I can say except howa’a to everyone at SpruceRoots. For all you have given us, for all you have done, thank you so very, very much. And I mean that. •