East Lansing: An Unusual Community?

Thursday, October 12, 2017, 3:00 pm
Alice Dreger, Publisher of ELi

At the end of this, I’m going to ask you to take a 30-second reader survey. So, if you only have a minute, please skip to the end and take the survey. (I’d rather hear from you than have you hear from me today.)

Barring local disasters, ELi will be on break through Monday. Our Managing Editor Ann Nichols is away for a family funeral, and I am in Toronto on non-ELi work. To be honest, we also need a bit of a breather because the news in East Lansing has been fast and furious lately. And Election Day is coming up soon.

As is often the case when I need to post a note explaining why we’ll be quiet for a few days, I find myself taking stock of what ELi is and does. Inevitably, that leads me to feel grateful for the community in which I live.

As you may already be aware, East Lansing Info is different from just about every other news organization out there. We are a public service organization dedicated to nonpartisan local news using a citizen-reporter system. As such, we ask a great deal of our readers.

Not only do we ask our readers to financially support the project, we also ask them to keep us informed of what’s going on, to be willing to read deeply and learn about complex legal, financial, and zoning issues, and to consider learning to become nonpartisan reporters themselves.

I’m often struck by how people here rise to those requests—and how they rise in the spirit of community service, the ideal that is at the core of our mission.

This week alone, besides Ann reporting for you on legal issues and me reporting for you on government and development, we had contributions from these local citizen-reporters: Rosalind Arch, Jessy Gregg, Paige Filice, Sarah Spohn, Sheila Taylor, and Karessa Wheeler.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had to ask the three people running for Council to answer questions for our candidate profiles (thanks, Ruth Beier, Aaron Stephens, and Susan Woods). We’ve had to ask the “yes” and “no” tax proposal campaigns to provide us their mailers for fact-checking (thanks, Doug Jester and Thomas Morgan). We’ve had to ask City Clerk Marie Wicks and County Clerk Barb Byrum to help us understand election law, Planning Director Tim Dempsey to help us understand various developments, Mayor Mark Meadows and Mayor Pro Tem Beier to help us understand Council actions. And we've had dozens of readers send us ideas, tips, and helpful feedback.

What’s striking to me is how so many people help, and how it’s clear they do so because they see the importance of information flow in participatory democracy. Maybe this is what you would get in any city when you’re over three years into an ELi news cooperative?

Hmm. I’m not sure.

What I know is that it’s truly remarkable to see the level of participation in news and information sharing in East Lansing. That ELi has become an amplifier of good and hard local work makes me very happy.

Ann and I are very grateful to all of you who have participated, and we want you to know that.

Now, please take this 30-second survey so we can know what you think about this public service: click here.



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