Do you remember the song “Cool Change” by the Australian musical group Little River Band? The song’s familiar refrain says, “Time for a cool change… I know that it’s time for a cool change.” That melodic earworm has been flowing through my brain for weeks now because it’s time for a cool change of our own here at Bird Watcher’s Digest.
A cool change, in my definition, is a positive, intentional change rather than the unexpected, traumatic changes we all dread. It’s a change you choose rather than a change that forces you to adapt or die. We’ve certainly experienced our share of uncool changes over the past few years: The sudden passing of Bill Thompson III, Elsa Thompson, and Andy Thompson within 14 months, followed by a global pandemic that wreaked havoc on our business. So, this season of cool change is most welcome.
As many of you know, Bird Watcher’s Digest was born in the living room of the Thompson family home on Warren Street in Marietta, Ohio, in 1978. You can read more about our organization’s history on our website, and learn about the talented, visionary, and hardworking Thompson family who took this publication from a dream to a reality 43 years ago. Sadly, the original Thompson family home was destroyed in a fire on May 25, 2019, and with it, tragically, the life of our beloved founding publisher, 85-year-old Elsa Thompson. There has been so much loss for this family in such a short time. A beautiful new house has now been erected where the original Thompson home stood, and it sits within view of my own front porch on Third Street.
A few years into the Bird Watcher’s Digest/Thompson family venture, it was apparent that BWD was going to fly! This fledgling publication needed more space, more staff, and room to grow and spread out. So, in the early 1980s, the Thompsons purchased an office building at 149 Acme Street, which has served as BWD’s headquarters for the past four decades. This wonderful space has been the best place for us to be, until now. It’s full of bittersweet memories for everyone who has been part of this organization over the years. Boy, if these walls could talk, what stories they’d tell!
My history with this building is more recent, but I remember visiting the office for the first time in 2008 as a consultant, full of ideas and dreams for BWD. I could sense the family history, pride, and devotion flowing through the offices and hallways. Then, 11 years of blood, sweat, and tears followed there for me. I remember returning there the morning after BT3 died, expecting to see his large frame, complete with Pittsburgh Pirates cap and glasses, around every corner. I remember sitting around the kitchen table with our bereaved staff that morning as we committed through our tears to move forward together in his honor. I remember walking in the door after Elsa died, like I’d done hundreds of times before, but this time bursting into tears at the sight of her empty chair behind the reception desk. No, not all memories on Acme Street are happy ones, but they are all important.
Like every business in America, everything changed for us in March 2020. We were forced to immediately close our office doors to visitors, and as we adapted during the following months, we created a new, remote-working model for 8 of our 12 employees. Our office building no longer suits our needs. It’s time for a cool change.
We are happy to announce that we are moving to a new office location in Marietta, just five minutes’ drive from where we’ve been all these years. We’ve sold our building to an industrious local businessman who has great plans for it. Our new office is designed specifically to meet our needs, and it even has walking trails nearby with a wooded area, a pond, and lots of birds! We will officially occupy our new office on July 16, 2021. Our online and phone contact information will stay the same, and you can find our new address on our website.
Can you guess what our FBOTNO (first bird of the new office) was? We got a two-fer: a loud-and-clear red-bellied woodpecker harmonizing with a Carolina wren! Very cool birds to inaugurate our new home, don’t you think? We are hopeful and optimistic as we embrace this season of cool change at Bird Watcher’s Digest.
Onward and upward!
About the Author
Wendy Clark is the president and publisher of Bird Watcher’s Digest, a career communications specialist, and an avid birder. She has three children and two grandchildren, and lives in Marietta, Ohio.