By The Bedford Citizen
Bedford’s strong sense of community is important to Kim Siebert MacPhail, Julie McCay Turner and Meredith McCulloch. Concerned that many people are not able to follow local issues closely or to stay informed about the many local groups that knit the community together, they realized that a strong vehicle and a new approach for town news is needed. It was from this understanding that The Bedford Citizen was born.
The Citizen is intended to be a kind of meeting place for the community. Interaction and community participation are not just desirable—they are essential to the mission. “We want and need others to participate to make The Citizen rich, exciting and useful,” said MacPhail.
Initially, The Citizen will focus on town meetings and arts and community events; eventually, it will create a comprehensive calendar that will provide one place for all town meeting and event postings.
The Bedford Citizen is also partnering with The Boston Globe’s new Your Town: Bedford page on Boston.com, where The Citizen’s articles are posted and linked. “This connection gives The Citizen a regional reach,” noted Turner. “Our stories add to the content of the Your Town: Bedford page, and our readers will see stories about Bedford that are published in The Boston Globe.“
All of the co-founders came to this project with community in mind, each from a different perspective:
“This will probably sound crazy to most people,” said MacPhail, “but I really enjoy going to Town committee meetings and writing about them. I am intrigued by what’s happening at the municipal and community levels, and find that summarizing or synthesizing the information for others is truly satisfying work.”
McCulloch added, “Much of Bedford’s strength comes from the number of volunteers who give their time to town boards, community groups, the schools, and to helping one another. For this tradition to continue, citizens need to understand Bedford and to see where they can contribute. We hope The Citizen will provide the local information that more townspeople need to become fully engaged.”
Community is central to Turner’s involvement as well. “Getting the word out about community events is tough these days with so many narrowly-focused options, each serving a small slice of Bedford’s potential audience. I am committed to making The Citizen Bedford a broad-based source for community news, the one sure place to find out what’s going on.”
MacPhail, Turner and McCulloch have another thing in common—a grounding in the League of Women Voters of Bedford, where they gained an understanding of the building blocks necessary for creating a healthy democracy. Their work for the League’s Observer Corps gave them practice covering and reporting on meetings. “Without a reliable method of gathering unbiased information that leads first to understanding and then to civic engagement, the community doesn’t always have the tools to make decisions on important matters in town,” said MacPhail.
In the coming months, with the help of the community, The Citizen will flesh out its content and grow to understand and meet Bedford’s need for news in its many forms. The co-founders invite residents to help shape The Citizen and to make it truly useful for those who live or work in town. If you enjoy writing about events or meetings; taking photographs of people, places and things; commenting about local issues; describing what your organization does; have experience setting up non-profit organizations or other have ideas about how to become involved, The Bedford Citizen is eager to hear from you.
“The Bedford Citizen is for the community and by the community—that’s the foundation of what we’re doing,” said MacPhail.
Contact The Bedford Citizen:
Website — www.thebedfordcitizen.org
Email — firstname.lastname@example.org
Voicemail — 781-325-8606
US Mail — PO Box 212, Bedford, MA 01730
Your Town Bedford at Boston.com — www.boston.com/yourtown/bedford
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/TheBedfordCitizen
Twitter — @bedford_citizen