The first time I laid eyes on the town of Hope, I almost missed the mountains.
So consumed by my mission of finding a place to live, I neglected looking at anything above street level.
When I shifted my gaze to the panorama above, I grew dizzy. Mountains, mountains all around, the breathtaking view a reminder of how infinitesimal our lives are in the face of nature’s greatness.
A short hour later, I hopped into my car and drove back to the valley. This was November and I would very soon become the new editor of the Hope Standard.
My first visit to the town had been beautiful, majestic even. But I left not knowing much about the people of Hope, except that they seemed kind and willing to help a stranger.
For example, the waitress at a local diner. When she heard I was relocating here, she gave me an extra helping of advice about her town.
At the end of my meal she pointed me in the direction of a number of online groups where I was sure to get a glimpse of what Hope residents had on their minds. One of these was the Hope B.C. Rants and Raves Facebook group. That’s where you get the dirt, she assured me.
As luck would have it, the first post on the page was about the newspaper I would soon join as editor.
‘What has the Hope Standard become?’ one resident wondered. Others chimed in with their critiques – of grammar, content and columnists – as well as praise for their local rag.
You may think this would be disheartening for the freshly minted Hope Standard editor to hear.
Quite the opposite, I was ecstatic to see how many had responded. If 40 or more people care enough to write about the state of their local news media then they must care about their community.
Growing up in a fishing village of 400 residents on Vancouver Island’s west coast, I can relate. Any small town has its good and bad sides; what makes these places special are those who live there.
The people of small towns across Canada have heart, they build community and they care about improving the place they live.
From stints in Vancouver and Yellowknife, I have once again ended up in a town where greeting each other on the street is the norm. I feel right at home and the view is not bad either.
So in my first week as editor of the Hope Standard, I want to say hello and thank you for the privilege of taking care of your local news.
Being the editor of your paper of record is a role I take very seriously. I want to hear what you have to say. Your views on education and economic development, community initiatives and cute cats, housing and hopes for the future are important to me.
A newspaper might sometimes seem like a one-sided communication tool. Yet we in the news business want to hear from residents because you are the experts on your hometown.
Send a letter to the editor expressing your views on the things you read, share a hot news tip with us and let us know when you think we are doing a poor job or a great one.
I did finally find a place to live in Hope, cutting it so close to the wire I was making preparations to shelter in the back of my car if need be.
As I sit in my new home on solid ground with the neon gleam of the Hope Cinema sign reflecting on my window, I hope you keep sharing your views of the place you care about and I will keep listening.
Please rant and rave on, Hope. I’m all ears.