07:36 Wed Aug 25, 2021
Turning the Page for Windswept, the Bulletin of the Mount Washington Observatory
With each edition of Windswept, we gather perspectives. These connect our community through themes like Mount Washington Observatory history, life at our summit weather station, or the important meteorology and climate work carried out bravely by scientists who call this extreme environment home.
Bringing these and other storylines together for the past 14 years is an instrumental member of the Observatory family, Marty Basch. Since 2007, Marty has served as the editor of our bulletin, writing and assigning stories that open windows into the contemporary and historical role our non-profit plays in understanding Earth’s weather and climate. We’re fortunate to have benefited from Marty’s talents, witnessing his skilled production of Windswept during this generous expanse of time.
Marty recently decided to conclude his role as editor, opening a new chapter in his life and writing career. We’re grateful for his service and wish him our very best!
As Windswept’s new editor, I’m honored to have the chance to pick up where Marty leaves off. More on that in a bit. First, it seemed fitting to gather a few reflections from Marty, now that he’s no longer chasing a deadline in the wind!
CB: What did you enjoy most about editing Windswept?
MB: The feedback, passion and connection in Rockpile Nation while keeping members informed about the Observatory’s work. I always appreciated well-written and concise offerings from members. Scoring the cover photo was a big deal for some. Thank you for making the job easier.
The most joy came from watching observers and valley staff evolve as writers and photographers. Not everyone cares for it. Making aspects of weather easy to digest and visually appealing can be challenging. The process of getting ideas across clearly is a pain at times but when done well, we all benefit.
CB: What will you miss?
MB: That’s easy. The people. But I plan to continue our membership, donate and volunteer. You’ll still have to tolerate me occasionally.
CB: How did the experience of editing Windswept for 14 years impact your life/career?
I’m no weather geek and initially wasn’t sure this would work. But this was an opportunity to be part of a legendary piece of Mount Washington tradition and culture, which I value and appreciate greatly. The Observatory provides community. It educates. I was but a bit player in a highly professional, dedicated and bright group and am eternally grateful.
CB: Are there any memorable snippets of Observatory life that you care to share?
MB: Sure, though I’m sworn to secrecy on some mile-high tales. Being part of the team hanging the Seek the Peak summit prayer flags Sept. 21, 2020 at sunrise is forever in my heart. That was a highlight from a personally demanding year.
I’ve volunteered on the summit twice in winter. Highly memorable was nearly making the 100 mph club on the observation deck. My wife Jan and I sustained 80-plus mph winds but it cost me my goggles which flew off my head. The most harrowing experience was coming down on a shift change with severe winds and zero visibility. They tied an observer to a rope in front of the snowcat so the driver could see! Jan couldn’t bear it and spent the time crocheting. Happy Hour was early that day.
CB: What are you looking forward to?
MB: My long stretch with the Observatory was as a part-time independent contractor and I appreciated the Observatory’s flexibility as I juggled writing projects, which continues. And bike. Lots. Since my wife might read this, I always look forward to spending time with her.
Maybe we can coax Marty into writing a feature story for us now and again. Speaking of stories, our staff is working on some intriguing threads for the Fall/Winter edition, available this November.
We recently completed a Windswept survey to gather voices of our readers and help chart the publication’s future. One of the survey questions asked readers to select three topics they find most interesting. The top responses were: history of Mount Washington and the Observatory (selected by 74.5% of respondents), weather/meteorology (selected by 74%), and summit operations and observer life (selected by 72%).
Many readers wrote in comments to express their keen interest in specific topics. “I love to see personal stories about the people living there,” wrote one respondent. Another said, “Give me life at the top!”
We hear you!
Valuable insight also came from responses to the following question: “Do you think a new section focusing on Mount Washington's changing climate would be valuable?” 70% said this would be highly valuable and 26% said somewhat valuable. Windswept has often featured articles about the Observatory’s climate research, but it’s clear that creating a section focusing on this area of interest will be important, supporting a key focus of the Observatory’s mission. We’re planning to accomplish this in 2022.
It was also great to see, based on responses, that our bulletin is read closely by a majority of our members. 80% of respondents said they read most or all of each issue, and 34% of that group said they do this within 1-2 days of receiving each edition. Completed by about 450 readers, the survey confirmed that Windswept provides our members with a valuable connection to the Observatory and Mount Washington. Yet another testament to Marty’s work.
Following are some of the verbatim comments submitted by readers:
“Each publication of Windswept offers glimpses into my past, memories of my past, all things happy. Your publication takes me on my virtual vacation, offering me both delight and education.”
“Our family reads every issue. It's our personal connection to the weather and mountain. We appreciate the work and mission of all those working at and for the Observatory. Its mission is critical especially if we are to get serious as a country about climate change mitigation. The Windswept articles keep us current on the workings of and about the Obs. Thank you.”
“Living a long way from NH yet having decades of experience hiking in the Whites, I highly value Windswept to keep me in touch, both about the Obs specifically and the Whites in general.”
“When stories get highly technical you usually do a decent job of explaining enough for the layperson to understand. Don't ever deviate from this goal, it keeps the majority of people engaged.”
“I appreciate Windswept as my way to stay close to MT Washington. Look for info regarding history of the mountain, first settlers, indigenous peoples, as well as current info from observers of weather and seasonal changes, changes over period of time and how we can best impact our environment.”
Having edited newspapers and magazines in the past (you can read my brief profile on our Staff page), I’m really excited to work on Windswept in service of the Observatory’s mission. If you have any story ideas or feedback, please don’t hesitate to send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always eager to hear about a good story concept.
Charlie Buterbaugh, Development Coordinator & Windswept Editor