This past year, not only did I learn that Funyuns came in more than one flavor, or that Justin Timberlake is no longer in NSYNC and has a solo career now, but more important things like stuff at the Longmont Observer (LO) where I volunteer.
I come from over five years of journalism experience at a college weekly and the Westword in Denver and came on-board at the LO at the beginning of August 2018. I did much more relearning than learning this year since it had been three years since I wrote an article, so it was a lot of me going, “Oh, yeah, that’s how I do that. I remember now.”
The biggest thing I learned this year was who the Longmont Observer was in the first place because if I never learned that, I probably never would’ve volunteered when I did. My brother Matt had been at the LO for over a year, but like any good brother I didn’t completely listen to him when he would speak.
You’ve got to understand, he drones on about the same old boring stuff over and over and over, except when he’s talking about movies, so I have plenty of practice of acting like I’m listening when I’m not listening.
I always thought he was talking about making videos for the Longmont Chamber of Commerce when he talked about the LO, which he used to do, so I wasn’t completely ignoring him. So, there was this one time this past summer when I actually listened to what he was saying and that is when I learned who the Longmont Observer was. I met with Macie, Sergio, and Scott and the rest was history, very well documented history, of about two dozen articles you can go back and read on this amazing website of local knowledge.
The first thing they had me cover was the St. Vrain Valley School District, which Macie was previously covering in addition to the six flaming cannonballs she perpetually juggles at any given moment. I was eager to try new things since I never got the chance to spread my wings that far at the Westword. Most of my experience comes from writing human interest, music, arts, profile pieces, op-eds, news, but nothing as specific as education.
These past five months watching school board meetings has shown me how many people and hours it takes to run a school district. I don’t have any children of my own, so I didn’t naturally gravitate toward this information and was shocked at how much effort goes into education. If parents ever have a concern it can easily be voiced at a school board meeting and you will be heard not only by the school board but by the LO and the general public.
As a Longmont High School student in the late 90s, I was completely unaware of what went on behind the curtain and thought teachers just taught and principals laid down the law when need be. Education is such a complex issue and the only way it can change for the better is if people like you get involved, talk to your teachers, talk to the schools, and voice your opinions at these school board meetings. The more you voice your opinions, the more the school district will need to adapt to your needs. School board meetings generally take place every 2nd, 3rd, and 4th week of the month.
I learned some other little things, like who to talk to in the city when I needed certain information, and it feels great being in the know and really see how this city operates.
I love Longmont and I’ve been a resident here long enough, since my early teens, that I care deeply about what happens and who hears about it. I used to want to get the heck out of Longmont when I was younger, but after living in Denver for almost eight years I learned that places like Longmont care more about your wellbeing; the quality of life is so much better here. And that is the most important thing I’ve learned. Other than Flamin’ Hot Funyuns of course.
After having this wonderful experience of volunteering this past year with such truly amazing people who push to do their best every day without pay, I hope 2019 is the year the LO really blasts off and reaches for the stars. I want to see the LO as a fully-funded operation, not only because I want to do what I was put on this earth to do which was write for a living, but because Longmont deserves a news source that is connected locally and cares about its city enough to operate at the heart on Main Street.
The Times-Call is too detached operating out of Boulder and New York pretending to be a local newspaper. They call themselves the Longmont Times-Call, but they aren’t even in Longmont. They read like a Front Range paper now. Longmont needs local news from local people who care about this city. The LO plans to expand its efforts to find funding in 2019 so we can be that local news source that Longmont deserves.
Once we have more to operate with, the more writers and creators we can add to the mix, and the more videos, podcasts, and articles we can provide you with. I want to see the LO covering more of the local arts and music with concert reviews and band/artist profiles. The music/arts scene has grown significantly in recent years and I’d like to document this more with a much closer look. I want to do everything and achieve greatness and I want to do this at the Longmont Observer in 2019.
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