Pivot Points

By Jim McCloskey

This has been a summer I won’t soon forget, personally or professionally.

On the former side, it started wondrously with the birth of my first grandchild, which came shortly before I helped my oldest daughter, her husband and the new baby move houses (an adventure that sent me to the hospital with a severely strained back). It continued with my youngest daughter’s completion of her undergraduate studies, her grand tour of Europe and her start in medical school in a city 2,000 miles from home. It also included my middle daughter’s increasing involvement in daily life in Armenia, a country exactly half a world away from our home, where she’s been conducting architectural research and working for nearly a year now – leaving us guessing about when we’ll see her again.

My kids weren’t the only ones on the move: My wife Judy and I reunited with family and loved ones in a visit to Yosemite and various spots in the eastern Sierra Nevadas. We also packed our bags and helped our youngest move to her new digs in St. Louis, where we witnessed the White Coat Ceremony that signified the start of her pursuit of a medical degree.

All of this was capped off early in August when I flew to Seattle with my eldest, her husband and their daughter to introduce the child to her great-grandmother. My mom is 92, and to say she was excited about the encounter would be putting it mildly. It was as though she’d been waiting impatiently for the next generation to get busy so she could tell her friends and neighbors all about her great-granddaughter.

Through all of this, which kept our household jumping from April until about a week ago, I still managed to spend the greater part of almost every day at my computer, pushing and prodding WaterShapes.com into shape. A key focus for some time has been on converting the entire contents of WaterShapes from printed to digital form.

Along the way I have encountered some gems. Just last week, for example, I uploaded hugely interesting features from early in 2009 including Aviram Müller’s fascinating behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to outfit a Las Vegas aquatic extravaganza (click here) and David Tisherman’s tale of getting so deeply involved with a particular homeowner’s project that he ended up building the house as well as its exquisite, remarkable pool (click here).

There were also some noteworthy columns, such as Bruce Zaretsky’s desperate plea to builders to be aware of what can happen in the long run when large trees go unprotected during the construction process (click here); I also enjoyed a whole string of Aqua Culture columns in which Brian Van Bower did his utmost to guide and encourage his fellow watershapers through the early contortions of the Great Recession (beginning here).

I always had the sense, while we were publishing the magazine, that WaterShapes’ significance extended well beyond the printed page. Working closely again with these words and images convinces me that I wasn’t off the mark back then: The magazine played a distinct role in defining the design, engineering and construction approaches taken by a whole generation of watershapers, and I have a sense that this influence will continue to grow through our ever-expanding, all-digital incarnation – especially as we get increasing numbers of consumers involved in the conversation.

I’m moved enough by what I’ve seen that I’ve finally decided to use social media (starting with some baby steps via LinkedIn and Facebook) to let you know what’s being prepared and released. There’s some amazing stuff already up on the site – and so much more in the pipeline that I can’t even fathom how much work we still have to complete.

These are indeed interesting times for us at WaterShapes.com, and only part of it is about rediscovering the wonders of what we accomplished in years past. More so, we’re looking ahead, consolidating our base, gathering and releasing new content and blazing a trail toward a bright, productive future.

Just as this summer has stood out as something splendid for my family and me, I believe we’ll look back on these days as a turning point in the history of the WaterShapes franchise. Every day, it seems, we’re taking a huge bunch of steps toward a future filled with significance, meaning and progress toward our ongoing goal of being the resource for watershapers and their clients.

It’s all pretty cool – and the watershapes are more beautiful than ever on screen!

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