Maxwell Park News'

by Sarah Hipolito

The reporter consulting with her dog advisor re: story edits. Photo by SarahHipolito.

Time to Say Goodbye

Thirty-five years ago, as a VISTA Volunteer in Columbus, Ohio, I was a community organizer performing any task needed to publish the South Side Settlement News. Four years ago, I was again working on another community newspaper, the MacArthur Metro. The community was different, but the issues were similar. Many of the community problems were the result of the disconnect between the government and the people it serves.

Drafted to write by Jan Hetherington, I wrote 40 articles about Maxwell Park Neighborhood Council's newly formed Neighborhood Action Teams (NATs). I organized these small, issue-focused groups to empower the council in its quest to improve all aspects of our neighborhood. The four NATs have grown to seven, and the eighth is sure to come. The column about the goings on in the neighborhood encouraged and publicized the good works of the community. Now I feel it is time to step aside so that another budding reporter has the opportunity to develop a voice.

Maxwell Park is a vibrant, active community. I had the privilege of meeting lots of interesting people, doing many creative things. From leading neighbors on walks to leading backyard cactus tours. From planting trees and daffodils, to growing our neighborhood schools, to building city coalitions to improve our neighborhood landscape. From cleaning up the wild space behind Walgreens, to cleaning up the park, to cleaning up Maxwell Park Elementary School for the start of a new school year. From improving traffic conditions to reporting dangerous drivers. From hosting an annual picnic-in-the-park to having numerous annual block parties. From watchdogging trials and criminal sentencing, to keeping an eye out on dangerous activities and posting warnings on our Yahoo! group of over 800 members.'

I always felt that a story came to life based upon the photo, and I was lucky to have a fabulous collaboration with a fine photographer, Nick Lostracco. I also appreciated Joe Davis stepping in the few times Nick was unavailable. I especially enjoyed the camaraderie of the Metro staff meetings and staffing the Metro booth at local events. The only drawbacks were meeting the deadlines, lack of response from readers, and my inability to write haiku to spice up my column la Adele Foley!

I want to thank those of you who opened your lives and houses to me. I want to thank Maxwell Park Neighborhood Council and the Metro for giving me the freedom to write in my own "community organizer" voice. I deliberately did not introduce negativity into my articles. There is plenty of complaining going on in politics, the media, and on our Yahoo! group. It is much easier to be a critic than a creator, and I did not want to go down the path of negativity, especially in print.'

Now it is time to hear from a new voice. How about yours? Do you have something to say? Unleash your inner reporter—you just might surprise yourself and your neighbors!

Maxwell Park Neighborhood Council: