It’s Thanksgiving week here in the foothills of Virginia. We have much to be thankful for at Foothills Forum and Rappahannock County — a great place to live, warm friends who care about our future, growing support from our community.

But for a three-year-old startup still finding its feet, seeing Foothills Forum included in a Columbia Journalism Review series this week by David Westphal is, to be frank, both welcome and scary.

Westphal, ex-bureau chief for McClatchy’s Washington bureau now at USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism, is tackling a multipart series for CJR on the role of personal philanthropy in the rise of the nonprofit news sector. And because Foothills exists thanks to the generosity of savvy local donors who care about countywide issues, we had a story to tell about community support.

So, yeah, it’s something for which we’re extra thankful.


Here’s the link:

Foothills is featured in part two of the series looking at developments along the spine of the Blue Ridge along with our generous (and older) mentors at Charlottesville Tomorrow. Part one looked at CalMatters, a major nonprofit operating in California. Also nice to see detailed reporting in the series from Westphal about the rising influence (and importance of) INN — the Institute for Nonprofit News. We’ve benefited in ways big and small from being a new associate member of INN as we try to plug in to other players in the rising sector.

We’ve appreciated hearing from a great many journalists, community leaders and Rappahannock readers who checked out and passed along Westphal’s sharp reporting. A little national attention goes along way. If that attention rolls over into new readers and viewers reading the Foothills projects published by The Rappahannock News, if they join forums on the issues studied, and if they commit to doing something about them, then perhaps we’ve filled our niche.

If nothing else, the recognition suggests we’re on a solid path. As we roll out future research and reporting projects, we’ll bear in mind that we’re only as good as the community support that makes it possible.

I’m thankful our contentious local elections are behind us, with old and new leaders among the Board of Supervisors and School Board. I’m glad to see the vacancy in the county administrator’s office filled. We’re all about to enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas and a new year with the good people of Rappahannock. I hope we can build on all of this and enter, to borrow from our past, an Era of Good Feeling.