Introductions, they’re something we all have to do, albeit some more than others.
As a journalist—and general people-person—I introduce myself a lot. And while there’s a strong chance the phrase, ‘Hi, I’m Sarah,’ is the most common in my vocabulary, ‘Thanks for speaking with me’ is certainly my favourite.
Almost every time I say those five words, somebody has trusted me to share their story with the community at large—a privilege I’m thankful for daily. However, rather than conducting interviews with the people whose stories I share, which can feel like being drilled for information, I prefer having conversations where knowledge is mutually exchanged. But to get there, we need to start with an introduction.
Hi, I’m Sarah. I’m a chronicler, a storyteller, a wordsmith, and the new multi-media journalist at The Hope Standard. And, because I believe the best way to get information is by giving information, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a bit about myself because it’s often easier to talk to a friend than a stranger.
An interloper of sorts, I moved to Agassiz from Coquitlam in 2016 with my husband and daughter, but I’m no stranger to small towns. Born in the heart of Alberta’s tar sands, I was raised in a small logging community in northern B.C. called Chetwynd. Perhaps you’ve heard of their chainsaw carvings.
I also spent nearly a decade in Regina, Sask., where I earned my journalism degree, and while it’s definitely not a small town, The-City-That-Rhymes-With-Fun still has that rural feel where everyone knows each other. The land of the living skies is also where I got my first taste of community journalism, which blossomed into a passion when I began working for The Chilliwack Progress in the fall of 2017.
And while I don’t doubt that my outlook on certain things has been both coloured and illuminated by my profession, I can’t help but believe journalism is a key component of any healthy society.
Community-based journalism offers a deep, intimate look at a community and the things that matter most to its residents; it’s where grassroots movements gain momentum, and while it’s included in the 24-hour news cycle, it also exists outside of it because a community never forgets the stories that matter most.
Now that I’m spending my days working in Hope, I’m excited to begin learning about the area’s history, stories, and residents. I want to get to know Hope like one gets to know a new friend: I want to learn what’s most important, what’s entertainment, what’s exciting, what’s new, what’s everyone talking about.
And the best way for me to learn those things is for you to tell them to me.
I want to be invited to events and share in the community’s successes and missteps.
I want to be be present so I can help record Hope’s history for future generations.
I want to lend voice to those who may find themselves speechless, and help light up the darkness through the spreading of information.
It’s my eventual hope that I have the opportunity to say, ‘Thanks for speaking with me,’ to every person in town because everyone has a story, and I can’t wait to tell yours.
I can be reached by email at Sarah.Gawdin@HopeStandard.com, or by calling 604-869-4992.