The Reader is a coming-of-age story for so many people who worked there. I was 20 years old when I started in classified ad sales. I held my last staff position as Editor in Chief when I was 27. I believed deeply in what the paper was trying to accomplish – to tell stories that were meaningful to our generation, to have a true and lasting impact on our community, and to be a bit edgy, even if sometimes it was youthful chest pounding.

The Reader gave a bunch of young writers, designers and photographers the space to not only tell a story but also to craft it. A viable opportunity for eager, creative talent to discover our own voices and style didn’t exist before that newsprint weekly showed up in wire racks and coffee shop counters around town. We made so many mistakes, but we grew and we learned and pushed ourselves to improve with every issue. We even, eventually, adopted a few standards of our own. 

The people I worked with during that time are still some of my dearest friends. I have yet to find that depth of office camaraderie anywhere else. Many of the writers and business influencers in the Omaha community today had a hand in crafting the content of The Reader at one point or another. I’m proud to call them my friends and I look forward to reading their work or supporting their creative endeavors wherever and whenever I find them.

These days I spend most of my time writing about food and the people who love it. My stories appear in Edible Omaha, Edible Feast, SAVEUR and Every Day with Rachael Ray. My first book, New Prairie Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Chefs, Farmers and Artisans of the Great Plains will be released nationwide by Agate Publishing in May 2015. I know the success I enjoy today wouldn’t have happened without the people I learned from and the experiences I gained at The Reader. I’m sure that is true for most us who came of age there. May the next phase of this publication create more roads, more creative leaders and more opportunities for those who are willing to take risks and work hard. 

— Summer Miller-Widhalm

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