by Peggy Miles
As the Buzz reporter for Prince County, I cover happenings in my hometown of Summerside and the western region. A few years ago during a time when I was making some changes in my professional life, writing for The Buzz seemed like a good way to exercise my creative side.
I knew ‘Buzz man’ Peter Richards through advertising I’d booked for work projects. One day Peter dropped into my workplace in Summerside and I mentioned casually that I wouldn’t mind being a regular contributor to the newspaper if the need ever arose. The timing was right, as Peter was in the process of searching for someone to fulfill the Prince County portfolio.
I submitted my first story for the April 2008 issue of The Buzz, and featured Richard Kays, the owner of Avonlea Bookstore in downtown Summerside. I painstakingly prepared my interview questions before heading out to the bookstore. Two and a half hours later (Kays is a talker) I headed home to compile the story—another arduous process, wanting to get it just right for my debut to the Island wide Buzz readership. If I had calculated all the time I put into that initial story, I’m sure it equalled a buck twenty-five an hour. But wow, what a thrill to see my name listed amongst the contributors that month in The Buzz.
In the subsequent stories since, I’ve managed to develop a system that allows me to complete my submissions in a more realistic timeframe. I’ll confess here that it’s uncommon for me to have my story done and submitted by the 4 pm deadline that looms on the 15th of every month. I usually submit my story not long after, but hitting that cut-off date is a tough one for me. Most of my emails to Peter are prefaced with “Sorry for the delay”. I like to think of myself as a creative type, not bound by the world’s deadlines. But then reality reigns me back in, as well as the thought of Peter laying out the next month’s issue, with a blank spot where my story is intended to go.
Over these last five years I’ve interviewed artists, musicians, authors and crafters. I’ve talked to businesses, cultural organizations and schools who have initiated exciting projects in their communities. I’ve reviewed theatre shows, and taken photos of performers, buildings and art pieces.
Sometimes stories practically write themselves. Occasionally it’s a bit more of a struggle. Like the time Peter asked me to write about a couple of filmmakers from Summerside whose wacky YouTube videos were “about nothing in particular”.
Another memory is the interview I conducted with a painter at her home and artist studio in the Evangeline region. She welcomed me with tea and sweets, and at the end of the interview she ceremoniously handed me a flower from her garden and a blank greeting card featuring one of her paintings.
The people I interview for The Buzz really understand the significance of having their story published in The Buzz. And they are quick to show their appreciation. It’s always unexpected, but very nice, to get a thank you email from an interview subject who’s just read their published story.
I’ve gained a new appreciation for a wide variety of topics as a result of the stories I’ve covered these last five years. Sometimes people are nervous when they show up for the interview. I try to keep things light and provide interview subjects with a level of comfort. I’ll smile and say, “Don’t worry, this is not hard hitting news. It’s The Buzz—the purpose is to support great stuff happening in the community.”
I have a good handle on happenings in the place where I live. My personal and professional interests extend to the cultural scene at this end of the Island. The fact that I can help my community to promote its offerings via The Buzz is something that I feel good about. I am grateful to The Buzz for fostering my growth as a writer and community enthusiast.
Peggy Miles is…
Peggy Miles lives in Summerside and is a marketing entrepreneur, community enthusiast, nature defender, Jim Hensen fan and dairy bar devotee.
Her business, RED ENVELOPE Marketing & Communications, specializes in media planning and public relations services for community organizations and small business operators.
For approximately 15 years, her work and volunteer experience has centered on community focused projects as well as projects related to tourism and culture. In addition to The Buzz, Peggy writes for the Employment Journey newspaper. She also instructs Aquafit at Credit Union Place on a weekly basis. Peggy is currently the volunteer chairperson for the Summerside Chamber of Commerce Young Business Alliance. She contributes volunteer time towards programming initiatives at Summerside municipal parks with the idea that connecting people in neighbourhoods breeds better connected communities that are healthy places to live. Peggy prides herself on her reputation as a party planner extraordinaire, and hosts an annual Robbie Burns gathering, as well as an outdoor dinner party at the park across the street from her house.