Writers and editors usually learn a few things early on in their careers. First, story ideas are everywhere. Second, you don’t always get to write the big stories right away. And third, sometimes the best partnerships can come at unscheduled times.
All three of those were true when it came to creating this edition of Wider Horizons. The idea for this issue came a few years ago at a party where I ran into the spouse of a friend. He also happens to be a grad of the college’s Criminal Justice program and a Lethbridge police officer. We were talking work, kids, sports and life, and then he said: “You know what you should write about in Wider Horizons one day? Fentanyl.”
The suggestion took my breath away, and I think I mumbled: “Wow. That would be a really sad issue.” And he said “Yeah, but it’s completely changed the way we work. And not just police – but so many college grads – the nurses, the child and youth care workers – it’s affecting so many of us.” And he was right.
But it took time to turn the idea into reality. I knew the topic was worthy of covering, but I just didn’t have the resources – time or money – to do it properly. Still, it never left my mind, and as Lethbridge became the centre of so many important opioid stories in the past year, I started looking deeper for ways we could write about the crisis and do it justice. And I found the solution in the form of partnership.
While attending the Alberta Magazine Publisher’s Association conference in Calgary last spring, I had the pleasure of meeting Terry Bullick, publisher of Apple, the magazine of Alberta Health Services. We talked about the stories we were working on, and I mentioned this idea for an issue about the opioid crisis – and the challenges I faced trying to cover it. Then she said: “What if we could work together on it?” And so we did.
The staff members at Wider Horizons and Apple are proud to present this special issue on the opioid crisis in Alberta, which includes stories and photos from both of our organizations. The main college story focuses on how the opioid crisis has changed the way our grads work – the very idea proposed all those years ago by the Criminal Justice grad. And the AHS team provided the rest of the stories and photos, putting the issue into a provincial context while providing important health information. These stories and photos will go to the 30,000 readers of Wider Horizons and the 140,000 readers of Apple. We hope our readers will be better served, more informed and perhaps even a bit more compassionate after reading the stories and seeing the photos created from this one-of-a-kind partnership between two Alberta public institutions.
This issue also reflects a first for Wider Horizons: we have prepared four different covers of the magazine. The issues this crisis raises are so vast and complex, and the people affected by it number so many, that we realized there was not just one alumnus whose story provided the whole picture. So we are instead featuring four of the many Lethbridge College grads whose working worlds have changed because of the crisis. You can find all of the covers in racks on campus and around town with Lethbridge Living magazine, or online at widerhorizons.ca.
Thanks to all who had a role in making this special issue happen – especially the Criminal Justice grad and the team at Apple, including their new editor Shelley Boettcher. And as always, if you have a story idea for Wider Horizons, drop us a note at WHMagazine@lethbridgecollege.ca. You never know where it might lead.
Lisa Kozleski, Editor