Farewell to a local pioneer – Steve Brown

Some people have called me a pioneer. I think of myself as more lucky than pioneer but I will accept...

“Some people have called me a pioneer. I think of myself as more lucky than pioneer but I will accept the designation. In the course of hanging out with other pioneers, I have noticed that we all possess one certain skill – that’s the ability to recognize each other. Shortly after I arrived in Tacoma, one of the first pioneers I recognized was an unlikely one.Usually the first ones down the trail go that way because they look for some extraordinary reward…money and power are the usual suspects. So when I noticed that Steve Brown, a journalist, was on the trail with me, I was-to say the least, very surprised. I knew why I was willing to walk point. I was on the scent of financial success.Steve however was not. He was working for slave wages at a profession he loved. He was writing about local business for a small newspaper called the Tacoma Daily Index.But unlike other reporters I have met, Steve wasn’t out to muddy up the waters or add cynical commentary to what was supposed to be a news story. He was looking for good news among the local entrepreneurs.Steve was particularly focused on technology businesses and Tacoma. Before any other major media outlet got the Tacoma technology story, Steve Brown got it and better yet, reported it. I’d say that qualifies him as a pioneer.As I read his stories, I had an uncanny feeling that Steve was not just a journalist, but also one of us… an entrepreneur with an adventuresome spirit. Instead of bandwidth or wireless agents or instant messaging, Steve’s product was information, with a bit of insight and wit thrown in for good measure.Over the years, I came to know Steve as someone who suffered (like so many of us) from AITB Syndrome: Arrows in the Butt Syndrome.As pioneers, we don’t always have a road map and occasionally, as we walk down the trail, the natives shoot us with their arrows.Once again, this is an acceptable risk if your dreams are to be the next Bill Gates.But Steve’s desires were much more altruistic. He simply wanted to spread the good news about the Tacoma business community, early and often. For that mission, he sacrificed money, fame, power and position.Steve is very smart and very talented. He could easily have gone to work in the marketing communications departments of a dozen local companies at twice his Index salary. He decided instead to stay on at the Index so that he could continue to help our city tell its story. Steve didn’t always know which turn to take or which stone to overturn, but he went on anyway-without a roadmap, under assault by the slings and arrows of those who would rather burn down a barn because it is easier than building one.Of course, all good things must end and now, unfortunately, the time for Steve to move on has arrived. This is his last day at the Tacoma Daily Index. Steve is moving to California. Those of us who have interacted with him regularly and who have gotten to know him as a human being will certainly miss him. So will the folks at the local shanty music festival; likewise the people at the Greek festival where he was a regular.Our community is losing much more than a journalist. We are losing someone who faithfully reported on all the good opportunities that await Tacoma entrepreneurs. We are also losing someone who actually understood the Internet and how business is supposed to be done there. It is our loss but California’s gain.I wish Steve could stay. That’s the selfish part of me coming out. But since he must go, I want to leave Steve with these words. They come from T.S. Eliot, one of my favorite authors: Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go. I think we can all honor Steve’s work in Tacoma by continuing to make our city a place that lives up to its name – Tacoma, City of Destiny. Steve was willing to risk a great deal to find out how far Tacoma could grow. I hope that those of us who remain behind will have the courage and the good sense to follow the likes of Steve Brown down the trail.Scott Bourne is the CEO of The Scott Bourne Companies.Bourne has been twice selected as one of Website Magazine’s 100 most influential people on the World Wide Web, and is the co-founder and builder of the world’s first Internet radio network, NetRadio, now publicly traded on the NASDAQ. He has been intimately involved in many Internet firsts.He serves as chair for the steering group of the Tacoma Technology Consortium and on numerous boards and committees dedicated to the advancement of Tacoma’s high-tech community. “

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