In looking forward, sometimes it's handy to look back.
I think of this, a Sankofa moment, as the long winter winds down, soon to be replaced with an undoubtedly hectic season.
I contemplate the past, present and future of The River Reporter. I contemplate my life in it and reached into the archives for this personal reflection that was written for the 25th Anniversary Edition, published June 28, 2001.
I have a confession to make. I have been working at The River Reporter for my entire adult life. And it was never my intention to do so.
I arrived in Narrowsburg in my senior year of college. As a professional singer-songwriter and fiber artist, I stopped into the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) to check out the performance opportunities in the area. By the time I left, DVAA Director Tom DeGaetani had booked me for a performance at Harmonie Hall in one month’s time. He also promised to find an internship at the local letterpress shop so that I could pursue my desired career goal to publish small books.
To my sorrow, this great man died without ever seeing me perform, or revealing where the money would come from for the print internship.
But somehow the lack of details did not stop the course of my life initiated in that first visit. I was fortunate to apprentice under the direction of Claude Hector, the former newspaper editor of the Delaware Valley News and proprietor of Delaware Publications. When George Krause bought the shop [in 1979], he asked me to run it while he still worked [at the Republican Watchmen] in Monticello.
I have fond memories of setting hand type and casting lead slugs on the Linotype machine. I am particularly proud to have all my fingers, and marvel that my son did not suffer any detrimental damage as he tooled around the shop as an infant and toddler.
The River Reporter was published every other week and never had any money (we worked for $25 an issue). The staff had to have other jobs to make ends meet. As the paper grew, it became more difficult to maintain the paper, the job and any semblance of a family or personal life. In an attempt to become financially stable, the newspaper went weekly in January of 1986.
In August of that year, my house burned down—probably as a consequence for standing up for the public’s right to accurate information. The loss of the house was devastating. But in the end, there was nothing to do but continue on.
And continue on I have.
That is not to say that I haven’t questioned or continue to question, why I publish The River Reporter. The answer is simple: community journalism matters. The independent press makes our community stronger. Our work has the capacity to raise the level of conversation about important issues. It can promote self-esteem, understanding and empowerment. It gives the community an identity.
It has become clear that my work at The River Reporter is a community ministry, of a sort. And I have discovered that I want to deepen my relationship to that ministry. I have declared myself as a ministry aspirant with the Unitarian Universalist Association of America. I was honored to be a participant in Narrowsburg’s last Baccalaureate service.
The River Reporter, as a newspaper, is built on solid ground. It has been inspired by, and is inspiring to, a great many people. It has been supported and nurtured by talented editors, writers, sellers and designers. It represents a way of life, and a network of communities, which have inherent integrity and a strong future. It embraces its mission to provide thoughtful, well-written articles. It is well grounded in its balance of what it gives and what it gets from the community.
In coming years, The River Reporter will continue to grow and thrive only if the community embraces and supports it. I have learned in these years that there are some things that a force of will cannot accomplish. This newspaper, despite its loyal and dedicated, talented staff, cannot exist without the conscious intention of its readers and the community.
After 23 years, I have returned to the space where I began. We have moved the newspaper back to its original home at Delaware Publications. With your continued support, and our own fragile yet resilient energy, we can continue to nurture this fabulous community gem of the newspaper.
Lord willing and the lake don’t rise.
Thank you all.