One of the things I like to talk about, when discussing the role of this newspaper and others like it serving smaller audiences, is the importance of what I call the “4 Cs” of community journalism:
- Communication. Pretty obvious — it’s our job to get the most useful, relevant, accurate and timely information out to our readers. These days, social media platforms make that task more immediate and effective, and expand our capabilities. There’s only so much room in a newspaper, but endless possibilities out there on the Internet.
- Connection. Through our various means of distributing information, we hope to bring people together, to help them find each other through shared interests in the community’s activities and issues. We provide “mobilizing information” in many of our items so readers know how to get in touch with other people and learn more. The newspaper can serve as a virtual meeting place to help build community.
- Civics. As best we can given our resources, we cover local government at all levels, so the constituents of all those boards, councils, commissions and committees will know that we are performing our “watchdog” responsibilities to keep them informed. And we want the governing bodies to know that we are keeping tabs on them. It’s not just about traditional journalistic oversight, it’s about the future of governance in this country. Studies have shown that in communities that have lost their local newspapers, citizen involvement in civic affairs drops off dramatically — which means elected bodies can go about their business without public engagement or interest.
- Celebration. Small-town newspapers have typically been regarded with amusement by their larger brethren because we seek out and honor the “little things” that people achieve in our communities — accomplishments by individuals, teams, companies and organizations that might not get much recognition elsewhere. People make this place what it is, and we are happy to throw a little spotlight their way.
As we do most weeks, our coverage in this week’s paper — expanded to 16 pages because we had so much material that it would not fit in a smaller issue, and augmented by the Methow Valley Summer 2022 magazine as an insert — touches on all four of the “Cs.” But it seems an especially good week to focus on the “celebration” part, as there are congratulations to be handed out.
Let’s start with Bluebird Grain Farms, which has been named the Rural Small Business of the Year by the Seattle district of the federal Small Business Administration. Sam and Brooke Lucy’s exemplary business practices in a unique niche earned them the recognition, but it’s their roles in this community — as employers, participants and supporters of Methow causes — that engender our admiration.
More plaudits for a firm with a strong local presence: Prentiss+Balance+Wickline Architects, whose work is on display throughout the valley in both homes and other buildings, has won a 2022 American Institute of Architects Education Facility Design Award for its work on Little Star School’s “Galaxy” building. The national award validates the notion that excellent work can be done in any setting with the right resources, talent and community backing. Little Star has been blessed with all those things.
At The Merc Playhouse, the board of directors found someone who is basically from within the theater’s ranks — Kira Wood Cramer — to take over as the organization’s next executive director, replacing Missi Smith. Kira practically grew up in theater, much of that time on The Merc’s stage, and says she feels right at home there. Kira was in the cast of “Rope,” the production I directed at The Merc a few years ago, and I can attest that her engaging personality will make a difference as she immerses herself in a challenging new role.
Last week, we decided that Liberty Bell High School sophomore Ayla Belsby’s efforts to make menstrual-hygiene products free and readily available to her fellow students deserved page A1 display. The feedback has been affirming — the story got a ton of love on our Facebook page and website. At the same time, a lot of people were celebrating something that apparently won’t happen: Dollar General has decided to bypass Twisp in its search for Okanogan County store sites.
You’ll find other things to celebrate (and perhaps a thing or two that you find less celebratory) in this week’s paper, and in next week’s as well if we are doing our job. We already know of a couple that we weren’t able to squeeze in this week. There are only so many of us, and only so many hours in a week, and only so many column inches in a newspaper. As always, we appreciate your help in bringing things to our attention.