“The one consistent thing is that the weather is more inconsistent”

The final installment in the Foothills Forum-Rappahannock News special report on our county’s glorious natural environment was a probing article by Randy Rieland on “the new abnormal” of local climate change impacts. Unpredictability and extremes in weather patterns, encroaching invasive plant and insect species, and ever greater challenges for farmers … Randy explored it all thoroughly and concluded with suggestions on practical steps to take offered by six environmentalists.
“Protecting Paradise”, the entire two-month, four-part series, was a great team effort. Randy also authored the first segment on land conservation; Sara Schonhardt explained the importance of the county’s rivers, streams, and soils; Tim Carrington explored the economics of land use; Andy Alexander and Bud Meyer contributed expert editing; photos came from Dennis Brack and Luke Christopher; and Laura Stanton designed the graphics. Well done, all!

A look at the folks bringing you the news

A fundamental tenet of Foothills Forum from its outset has been transparency, making clear our purpose and our independence. In that vein, the Rapp News this month ran short, entertaining profiles of the top-notch professionals behind the news.  Readers can learn which writers worked for the Wall Street Journal, who covered the White House, who hikes Rappahannock with a dog named Luna, and who used to be a rock climbing guide. It’s an interesting and very talented team, of which we are very proud.

NewsMatch:  Still time to support your local news

With your great help, we have raised the $11,500 necessary to receive the matching amount from NewsMatch and the Institute for Nonprofit News. Thank you!

So, we are shooting higher. We’ve given ourselves a target of $23,000 to be raised from individuals exclusive of the match. So, if you haven’t yet given to support your local news, please consider a donation before January 1.

The plight of local news, and community news organizations

Margaret Sullivan, in her column in The Washington Post, continues to highlight trenchantly the crisis of local news around the country, this week mentioning her September appearance at the virtual Foothills dialogue on her recent book Ghosting the News.

In the meantime, two influential voices that share Margaret’s worry see community news organizations like ours as a significant part of a brighter future.

Steven Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America (which brings Rachel Needham to Rappahannock) sees the possibility of targeted federal tax credits for newspapers and a “coming era of civic news.”   He suggests: “While the situation is dire … a better model for local journalists is developing. It consists of reconceived commercial news organizations, a much larger nonprofit news sector, and a greater role for small and large philanthropic donors.”

And Mark Glaser, founder and former executive director of MediaShift.orgwrites for the Knight Foundation that: “ … what we rarely hear about is the resilience, the staying power and the growth of nonprofit local news … Nonprofits have led the way in seeking out reader revenue, donations and memberships that have longer staying power than advertising — and have the added bonus of bringing community members closer to the publication.”
That’s certainly our experience in Rappahannock.

Online: New and improved

The Foothills Forum website has been bolstered and reorganized.

Whether it is broadband/cell coverage, budget and taxes, health care, housing, land use, transportation, the annual Rappahannock Snapshot, or details of Foothills, its creation, and its backers – it’s all there for your benefit.

Check us out online!

Happy Holidays to all!