Reflecting the Whole
I had the honor this week to facilitate a board retreat for the Living Legacy Project. (I have been facilitating this working board retreat for the last three years and am grateful to the amazing staff at The River Reporter who makes it possible for me to leave for a few days and do this ministry.)
The Living Legacy Project is an independent organization whose primary activity, for now, is to host civil rights pilgrimages that bring people to meet and talk to civil rights veterans who lived through the movement 50 years ago, particularly in Alabama and Mississippi.
It’s a pilgrimage because it changes people’s lives. Through the time spent, participants experience first-hand that the history they have been taught, indeed that we are all taught, is a very limited construct. By talking with people who lived through it, “pilgrims” have the opportunity to meet history face-to-face. They have the opportunity to see how history is complicated and how the telling of history is a powerful tool for affecting how we think about things. Quite often, it's about whose voices are not heard or whose stories are not told.
And that leads me to weekly community newspapers. (Always, right?)
I think about how important it is that newspapers tell first-hand stories of individual's lives as they are affected by issues and everyday occurrences. I think about how important it is that those stories reflect the diversity of opinions and politics included in the many complexities that exist in every situation. I think how important it is to allow the stories of others to inform our own story. The story of the other (not ourselves or our friends) helps us to see the situation from a different perspective. It gets us out of ourselves and our own self-interest to think about the whole as greater than a sum of its parts. It facilitates us being in communication with people we don't generally talk to or agree with.
And that’s where newspapers come in.
Community newspapers have an obligation to reflect the whole of the community. I call it an obligation because if it is the purpose of a newspaper is to reflect the community, then we need to, or are obliged to reflect the whole of it.
To do that, we need your help. We need you to send us your news! (For releases: email firstname.lastname@example.org; for events email email@example.com; for advertising email firstname.lastname@example.org) We need you to talk to us, write letters to the editor and use the paper to get your word out!
Help us tell the whole of the community story so that right from the beginning there is complexity and a vibrant wholeness to the stories that we tell about our community.
Thanks again to the staff at The River Reporter for their good work this week and every week!