So, I'm sitting at Wood's Coffee in Downtown Bellingham, early last Saturday, and there's no place left to sit. SRO (google it). Actually, the truth, and the way society is gravitating, is there are no seats near electrical outlets.
So rather than bring out the old 500 foot long orange extension cord one might use to A) put up Christmas lights, and B) strangle plastic Santa with, when he refuses to acquiesce with his luminescence, Jeff Schissler introduces himself, and takes a seat at the long table with me.
Why this blog focuses on him was because of the conversation that followed; about the photos he was uploading, the resume he was working on, and his position on making it happen in this town where great career opportunities seem to be as fleeting the need to see Flock of Seagulls, should they ever come back to town. Yeah, they were here.
Jeff rides, airs, jumps mountain bikes, with much heavier frames than the usual BMX bikes you'll see out there. Jeff does this for fun, and for a living, which is pretty much freelance. Meaning he's a one man army of marketing, public relations, accounting, talent, and direction. He does this all from Bellingham, though he's travelled a bit to different spots for shoots. But he does it from Bellingham because of where it lets him go, and come back to.
When we were talking, he was editing photos, and compiling a list of sponsors to send his recent launches to, in an effort to buld his business over the course of the next year. He's faced with the same hurdles the rest of us are, creating new and innovative product in new photos, new angles, new quirks in photography.
And being outsourced; nothing could be tougher to compete with than a 16 year old hucking gainers because all THEY'll miss if they crash is a few weeks of school, or the new High School Musical. Jeff would miss a few weeks of work, more opportunities to launch, and put his name out there for more product sponsorship, which allows him to ride more, and work less at his OTHER job. Because in Bellingham, Baton Rouge, or Bogota, a business needs a constant income stream to keep it's doors open, no matter what.
Bellingham seems to be a great place to make it happen, but taking Jeff's approach to an outdoor career lifestyle is not 9 to 5, it's cradle to grave. And he's throwing it all out there. And with a town that's seemingly running on independant contracts, business owners, and enterpreneurs, it's becoming more the rule, than the exception.
And that's us. Make no mistake about Bellingham; the train that runs along our waterline should remind us that we are white collar, blue collar, but collared notheless. How you work it in Bellingham will be a direct correlation to how long you stay here.
So good luck to Jeff. These are the people in your neighborhood in Bellingham.