Getting to the heart of community

Trent Ernst, Editor

 

I talk about community a lot here, because this is a community newspaper. But today, I wanted to discuss communication.

As you probably can tell just by looking at the two words, they have a lot in common.

If you were an etymologist, you’d be rolling on the floor right now, because what the two words share is also shared by the word common, which is the Latin word communis, which means “shared by all.”

The idea of community is a set of shared values. We often refer to the people who live in a close space as a community, but simply living in proximity to someone doesn’t mean that you are part of a shared community.

Communication, on the other hand, is a sharing of information, by a variety of means: written, spoken, visual or other.

Both concepts need at least two parties. I cannot be part of a community if I am alone. I cannot share ideas or information with myself.

Sometimes, though, it feels like that’s what I’m doing here at the paper. Flappin’ my gums just to feel the breeze.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are people out there who are reading these words right now, because there are people who come up to me every week to say how much they enjoyed that thing I wrote. You know, in the paper. About that thing….

But communication should be a two way street. It is the exchange of thoughts, of ideas, of information.

People assume that because I am the editor of the newspaper, I know everything that’s happening in town.

Untrue. In fact, because people think I know what’s happening, so they don’t tell me, and then wonder why that story isn’t in the paper.

Over the last year and a half that I’ve been doing this, I’ve worked hard to hold a mirror up for the town, so it can look at itself and go “I didn’t know I had that bit of parsley stuck in my teeth…”

What is missing, though, is any sort of feedback. I can show you Tumbler Ridge as I see it, but I only see the bits that I see.

Up until a few years ago, there was no editor here at the paper. The publisher depended on people from the community submitting stories and photos to the paper. There were some writers who got paid, but there was nobody in the big comfy chair, chewing on a cigar and yelling, “Mrs Brant! Get me Parker on the line” randomly.

While the quality of the writing and photography has (we hope) gone up over the last few years, it feels like community engagement has gone down.

So here’s the deal. Over the next few months, we’re going to be working hard to try and get you (yes, you, reading these words right now) more involved in the creation of this paper.

Starting this issue, we are adding in a new section called “Pet of the Week”. Submit a photo of your cute pet and we’ll publish our favourite each week. Simple as that.

We’re also starting a section called “Through Your Eyes.” This is where you submit photos of things happening that we might have missed.

These don’t have to be big things. It can be your daughter enjoying her first ice cream cone, now that Tags has got soft serve again. It can be kids playing sports. It can be your hiking partner at the top of Bulley Glacier. It can be of the damage done to your plot at the community garden. Send photos to editor@tumblerridgenews.com, or post them to our Facebook page.

Is the only way to get involved by taking photos? No! For years we’ve had a letters to the editor section. Recently, it’s been overrun with folks from around the Peace complaining about the building bylaw, but it’s there for you, residents of Tumbler Ridge, to voice your concerns.

You can submit story ideas to editor@tumblerridge.ca. Heck, you can just stop me in the street and ask if I knew about something.

I can’t promise everything will get written about (especially when we have a 16 page issue, like this week), but I can promise you that we won’t write about the things we don’t know about.

We here look forward to hearing what you have to say and seeing what you have to show us.

In the meantime, check out some of the cute pet photos on page 9, then send your own.