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West Marin Citizen Turns Seven: July 2007 – July 2014

Linda Petersen-Publisher and Co-editor:

This week we publish the first edition of Volume 8 of the Citizen. This means our 365th paper. It has indeed been an adventure, with all the elements of good TV drama, including characters, often larger than life, as main players.

As the years have passed since we first began publication, the involved participants (protagonists?) have settled into new roles and the community has become richer from the experience.

How lucky we are. How lucky I am to have arrived in this community in time to learn the stories of the past, and to be a participant in the discussion of where West Marin is going in the future. I thank the community for allowing us this opportunity to keep the doors of the Citizen open for your participation.

After all, as Steve Quirt, our gifted layout artist and contributor likes to say, it is your paper and your history that is being written week by week.


Looking back
by Joel Hack, founding publisher West Marin Citizen

Memorial Day Weekend 2007: Some West Marin folks met at Bear Valley picnic tables and hatched a plan. They overcame great and small obstacles. They produced a Pilot edition for Western Weekend. Then they produced the first West Marin Citizen for that Fourth of July. They felt they responded to their friends, neighbors and their community.
What they heard that fateful weekend: The readers of West Marin were hungry for news about themselves; stories and information that reflected their spirit and wisdom. The readers of West Marin wanted a community newspaper that brought themselves a way of seeing, a way of reaching out, a way of touching one another. The readers of West Marin wanted a community newspaper that built their community.
Did the West Marin Citizen succeed? Yes. At a minimum there are twice as many newspapers in West Marin. Be proud, few if any communities the size of West Marin have TWO newspapers; many don’t have one. Seven full years later (365 editions) a lively, useful, respectful, nurturing record of the LIFE of West Marin arrives each Thursday.
That is success on a person-to-person and global scale. The Citizen folks also had a fun, exciting time producing your newspaper, and they are proud to earn your approval.

Ellen Shehadeh, Copy-editor and co-editor

When the West Marin Citizen was launched 7 years ago I was delighted to be part of the original group who envisioned and then actually began this maverick newspaper. I am proud to say I wrote the first news article for the paper- wouldn’t you know, it was about a cow! I continued as a reporter, doing many articles about health and health care in West Marin among other topics, and was always encouraged to take on bigger and better challenges by our editor Jim Kravets. Later I wrote a series Under the Radar, profiling interesting locals (are there any others?) who would consent to public scrutiny. The story was theirs to tell, from their own unique point of view.

At this point I find myself as co-editor and copy editor. Sadly, I assumed the job after my dearest partner, David Bunnett, died suddenly eight months ago. Only now do I realize how hard he worked. And although ostensibly we have the same job, he did so much more than his job description, from writing superb articles about complex subjects at the last minute when he had an idea that couldn’t wait until next week, to delivering the papers around the community. He worked tirelessly behind the scene in many other ways to make the Citizen a paper we could all be proud of.

And he was also my editor. As I have saved people from writing about “lumbar yards,” he rescued me from some potentially embarrassing and actually quite hilarious missteps that we used to laugh about.

The West Marin Citizen is a different kind of newspaper, a real community newspaper that gives everyone a voice. I am proud to be part of all of this, and thank all our readers and contributors for their participation and faith in the little newspaper that could- and does! Keep the stories coming!

Steve Quirt  Graphics/Layout co-editor

Each week a chorus of community contributions arrive, and we at the West Marin Citizen have the privilege of getting your newspaper ready for delivery on Thursdays.

When I first began as a contributor in 2007, Jim Kravets wrote somewhere that he was continually charmed by the variety and quality of content that came across his desk each week. I was struck by his statement. Now, after a year or so helping out with the Citizen, I appreciate Jim’s comment. What a variety of full spectrum community news and culture! Bay biology, wine reviews, psychology, lots of art and literature, weekly columns from Inverness and Mexico, classified ads, sheriff’s reports and all the announcements calendars and everything else.

And it all comes from you.

No two issues are ever the same. The open format of a Community Newspaper allows for a lot of craziness, but also a surprisingly rich and involved contribution network from readers. And in a community like West Marin, that keeps us hopping, improvising and working hard to make all the moving parts of this dynamic process run smoothly. Thanks to Linda, our Editor-in-chief, for holding it all together and being patient with this process!

Each week, when we get the heads up from the printer that the presses are rolling, we breathe a sigh of collective relief. It always seems like a miracle that, with our tiny staff, we pull it off each week. But that is because of you, the reader, the community, and your content, culture and common goals that we try to hold up and put forth in each issue of the West Marin Citizen.

I believe in Community Journalism
By Mary Olsen

I believe in the power of community. In my younger days I thought the utopian communities of the 19th century might be the way to live. So I lived in a few in the 70’s. The best, most well organized was a Rudolph Steiner community in Copake, New York – Camphill Village. I had a wonderful life there, but there were too many restrictions, and too much mysticism for me. But I left with a genuine appreciation for what can be accomplished by people working together.

A bit later I discovered the Big City and rejoiced in the sense of community in my densely populated, culturally diverse North Beach neighborhood. It was nurtured by the friendly cafe life that brought people together in the morning and after a day’s work. The finest networking ever.

Later I tried another experiment – living in suburbia where everyone had a seven-foot fence around their 10,000 square foot lot. Automatic garage doors swallowed cars whose occupants were seen only on the weekends pushing noisy behemoth machines. Oh, there was community, built around children and their sports and school activities. Once the kids went off to college I plotted my escape.

So here I am getting toward the last chapters of life, at the end of the continent, luxuriating in a real community. But it is one that hangs by such a slender thread. Economic realities push away people who cannot afford the increasing price tag of housing. I myself will get pushed out eventually.

But in the meantime I intend to enjoy all this magic place has to offer. And I’m proud to be a contributor to a community journal that makes us look at the issues we humans face when we try to live together in a healthy society. I just counted the number of contributors to last week’s Citizen. Sixteen different people on sixteen pages of newsprint, all writing about the things that make up the fabric of our lives.

The West Marin Citizen is community journalism. I’m proud to be a contributor.
Happy Seventh Birthday! Live long and prosper, West Marin Citizen!