Navigate your way toward the future

Published 12:17 am Sunday, November 9, 2014

Motorists along North Canal Street two weeks ago may have thought the newspaper’s staff had finally lost its collective mind.

All around The Democrat building, team members were seen in small groups stretching out tape measures, clutching small compasses and trying to race, while being methodical about following directions.

All of us standing in flowerbeds and staring into the bushes and trees was certainly a sight to see, particularly if you didn’t have a clue what was happening.

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The exercise was for good reason and for a bit of fun as well. It was the start of a lunchtime kickoff of our annual Profile section. This year’s section will publish on Sunday, Feb. 22.

Profile is a huge endeavor for our staff, so we start on it months before it publishes.

This year’s kickoff was tied to the theme of Profile 2015, but it took our staff a bit of time to figure out the theme, which had been kept a surprise to all but a few.

The staff divided into four groups. Each was given a tape measure, a compass and a set of instructions using compass directions.

For most of us who are more accustomed to plugging an address, or even a name, into a GPS device and having it navigate for us, the challenge was a study throwing back to a mostly bygone era.

Perhaps aside from the Boy Scouts and the most diehard, old school hikers among us, today’s society just doesn’t rely on the tried and true measurement and navigation devices.

The tasks for each team were relatively straight forward — follow a set of clues, each leading to the next clue via compass direction and distance in feet.

The challenge was really three-fold.

First, it’s dang difficult to get a group of people — even ones who work together — to agree on a direction. Imagine how difficult even simple decisions can be for small groups. Have you ever tried to organize a lunch option for several people, usually someone doesn’t like the choice.

Second, utilizing what are arguably tools from our past — at least technologically — poses a challenge for most.

Finally, figuring out where to go, whether in life, on a trip or just walking, can be difficult, even when the directions are provided with precise detail.

Fortunately during all of the running around, no one was hurt and only one of our four teams had to be “rescued” while wandering around the back parking lot.

All of the fun culminated with some prizes and a good lunch provided by Cotton Alley Café, which has been a longtime advertiser.

Teams were eventually directed back to the starting point where they found a simple puzzle that, when solved, revealed the Profile 2015 theme — Charting Our Course: Navigating Our Future with an Eye on the Past.

Several people on our staff created this year’s theme after much consideration about where our community is, where it’s headed and what direction the future will take us.

The theme seems fitting as our area seems to be at a point of action on so many fronts — from economic development to improving public schools to recreation and a myriad of other things.

The challenge for the community is figuring out which way to go, then figuring out the best way to navigate there.

Our news staff is already working on many great stories for this year’s Profile section, and our marketing department is working with dozens of local businesses that help sponsor Profile, our largest section of the year.

Readers, your part is easy and you don’t even need a compass.

All you need is a little patience and a copy of the Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, edition of The Natchez Democrat.

We cannot wait to share it with you, and we hope you’ll enjoy it.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or