Friday, September 29, 2000
Nice Work, and You Can Get It
If you read this paper at all, you must have noticed all the ads recently for a news editor. After many years of service, Mary Hult is stepping down to pursue other ventures. We who remain, in an effort to construct a job description, have spent many hours trying to define what makes a good news editor. The ability to write a cohesive sentence goes without saying, because occasionally the news editor is called on to write an article for the paper. Just as important is what I like to call "a citizen's curiosity." The editor should represent the citizens of Carlisle when he or she reads a reporter's work -- if the editor doesn't get it, the reader won't. If the editor feels a question is unanswered, the reader certainly will. A good news editor also needs a refined sense of fairness. Every news article represents several different views, and the editor's job is to insure that those views are not only reported in the paper, but expressed fairly. Are you intimidated yet? Don't be; these qualities can best be described as "good common sense." Add to this a good sense of humor, some basic people skills and a dose of patience and you've pretty much nailed down the qualifications.
But what are the perks of this news editor's job? First of all, it's a dynamite addition to your resume, offering experience in many fields. Secondly, the mother's hours are quite agreeable and very flexible. Perhaps best of all, however, is the company you would keep. The paper is put out by a vital group of intelligent Carlisle residents who love the town and are fascinating to work with.
For more than twenty years, citizens of Carlisle have stepped up whenever the Mosquito has had a need, whether it was with funding, housing or staffing. But as yet no one from town has come forward to fill this position. We have just begun advertising in out-of-town papers. The new century may usher in yet another change in town -- our first non-resident news editor. It may be a reasonable solution, but it would also signal the regettable passing of an era when Carlisle's newspaper was put out "by its citizens for its citizens."
Time for a Civic Council?
A Civic Council is a federation of organizations that share an interest in the development of their town. I participated in one in Pennsylvania. It was made up of representatives from non-partisan, non-profit volunteer groups in the town: civic associations, parent/teacher organizations, educational associations, women's and fraternal organizations, senior citizen, Scout, 4-H, sports and arts associations, and service organizations such as the League of Women Voters, historical society and library.
The Council maintained subcommittees that would advise on community improvement, education, government liaison, health, parks, planning and programs, publicity, recycling, safety, and zoning issues. It monitored all important town meetings and could lend support or express opposition on issues, based on the input of the Council's subcommittees and discussions. Council meetings were held every other month, with an executive committee meeting during the alternate months.
Benefits of the Civic Council were many:
· It was a way for the various groups to stay in touch with what was going on in town.
· Information could be accumulated or disseminated quickly and easily.
· Community needs could be considered in a broad context.
· Resource and information sharing among participating groups was enhanced.
· Different organizations could unite to work on common interests.
· Through the Council, the organizations had a stronger shared voice.
· The Town could quickly get input from all its civic organizations.
· As a local emergency resource, the Council was organized to act more expediently and more humanely than the government sector could to provide extra hands, shelter, food or clothing as needed.
Simply put, the Civic Council worked for the preservation, protection and enhancement of the quality of life in the community. It was a way to combine the voices of many groups so that they could be heard. The Civic Council was listened to, not because it had a big budget (it didn't), but because it had its finger on the town's pulse.
Two major issues during my time on the Council were the environmental impact of a new highway being built, and the health issues of a rabies epidemic. It was also through this organization that we became more aware of the unmet needs of our seniors and teenagers, and that residents in different parts of town were not receiving equal services.
Carlisle is or might be facing some of the same issues. The same rabies epidemic is at our door; Route 3 expansion is coming, and as a town we are not providing for some important needs of our teenagers and seniors. Other issues that could benefit from a united group of civic organizations include affordable housing, walkways/paths, transportation and establishment of a community center.
We need cohesive and inclusive long-range planning. It appears that our town officials are trying to achieve this kind of unity, as evidenced by the recent municipal land need discussions. A Civic Council might improve the process by providing a forum for the various organizations and groups in Carlisle to discuss their needs and to have an effective voice in the decision process.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito