Sometimes it takes the prying questions of a reporter to help understand better one’s own motivations for taking on an enormous task. When a CBC producer asked why I decided to write Everything Shuswap, my first response was to explain the connection between environmental protection and improving public awareness of their bioregion. However, after more reflection, the deeper reason for the dedication to the project stems from my desire to contribute to societal wellbeing.
Many people contribute to society by volunteering with charitable societies, recreation groups, faith groups, or educational projects. The Shuswap is renown for its community volunteers who help make our region a better place to live. My contributions have always focused on areas where there is a gap, beginning with the years I spent doing local history research and writing followed by my decades of environmental work.
It was the book, Stein – The Way of the River by Michael McGonigle and Wendy Wickwire, that inspired me to form an effective local environmental organization in 1989 and eventually write about the Shuswap bioregion. Another spark was hearing too often the Shuswap referred to as part of the Okanagan, which continues to happen, including on CBC radio. One of the goals of the book is to enhance the identity of the Shuswap provincially and nationally, so that it is as well known as other regions of the province that are the subject of many books and articles.
Another question from CBC was about what my major challenge was in getting the book to press prompted more reflection. Writing the columns and the additional text over the last 12 years to produce the manuscript was a joy. The next step to ensure the book would be authoritative involved working with the many reviewers who graciously provided their time to provide valuable feedback that resulted in numerous re-writes.
By far, the most onerous task was turning the manuscript into the proof, which first involved acquiring the hundreds of photos and maps from both local photographers and museums as well as from distant museums that required filling out forms and arranging financial compensation. Acquiring and organizing the images was a challenge that required writing the captions along with specific details about each museum and archives.
Although the process to create the design and layout took longer than anticipated, it was a pleasure to work with Shuswap Press designer, Otto Pfannschmidt, who is a brilliant artist. Surprisingly, the final editing process was extremely intense and time-consuming, as typos continued to appear and many changes were made to improve the final version.
The final stage will be the marketing, but given that Everything Shuswap is the first book about the Shuswap, is long overdue and the proceeds will support outdoor learning, it should sell itself. As author and former Globe and Mail columnist Mark Hume notes in his review blurb, “It’s a textbook for understanding one of the most beautiful and least understood landscapes – and it should be mandatory reading for anyone who lives in or visits the Shuswap.”
The Everything Shuswap Book Launch was a huge success with approximately 200 people in attendance. After the presentation segment of the event that included a slide show to the piano music of Sylvain Vallee, three local singer-songwriters, short speeches by community leaders and a brief reading by the author, the crowd enjoyed complimentary refreshments and live jazz by Jake McIntyre-Paul and Friends while they waiting for their books to be signed.
Watch the slide show here: Everything Shuswap – Scenes from the book
The large crowd enjoyed the presentation
Author Jim Cooperman, Publisher Louise Wallace and Foreword writer and author Alan Haig-Brown