By Mitch Evans
Editor’s Note: Emily Mitchell retired from The Bedford Citizen’s board of directors in early December 2018 when she announced her intention to run as a candidate for Selectman in the March 9 Town Election. Mitchell was sworn in and attended her first meeting on Monday, March 11.
With much appreciation and a slightly heavy heart, the board of directors of The Bedford Citizen (TBC) bids adieu to Emily Mitchell, one of its founding members. Her dedication, creativity, and hard work will be missed.
I asked Emily a few questions in order to write this article and hope you enjoy her answers below.
You have been on the board since 2012. Looking back over the last six years, how has TBC changed?
[EM] I was one of the founding board members, way back when Julie, Meredith, and Kim Siebert concocted the idea of TBC — so yes, I think that was 2012. Obviously, the board has changed since then, with people rolling off and new people coming on, and while there is still a good contingent of League of Women Voters folks in the ranks, the board now includes a broader range of ages and backgrounds. The Citizen has grown in its mission as well: its core focus on Town committee and board meetings is still strong, but it’s added many other features and sections: sports, arts, helpful columns like Gene Kalb’s Recycling Know-Nos, obituaries, and more. BeTC, the town calendar (more on that below) is an invaluable resource for busy residents and Town organizations alike. Of course, TBC is always looking for more writers and more donations — those needs will never change.
Why do you think it’s important for the local community to have TBC as a source of information and news?
[EM] We’re all inundated with information every day, and yet finding out what’s going on in our own community is often a struggle. TBC is an excellent media outlet for local news, with detailed coverage of board meetings, school and rec sports, and upcoming events. TBC helps us know our neighbors and our neighborhoods and provides a steady and trusted presence at all the events and meetings that keep Bedford running. The Washington Post’s current slogan is “Democracy dies in darkness.” That may seem extreme, but in a town like Bedford that practices quite direct democracy through Town Meeting, it’s vital to have an ongoing source of news and information like TBC to keep us all informed about the workings of our Town.
What would you say were your most memorable contributions?
[EM] My two big TBC projects were the launch of BeTC at Bedford Day in 2015(?) and the “One Book, One Bedford” program on Rep. John Lewis’s MARCH in the Fall of 2017. The BeTC launch was a hoot: it was my first time organizing a group of marchers for the parade, and though it went fairly smoothly (coordinating outfits! visible signs!), we did run into one big pitfall: we ran out of candy before we even got to the Town Common. (Note to future organizers: don’t be quite so generous to the kids hanging out in front of the Marketplace; there are dozens and dozens more waiting outside the fire station!)
“One Book, One Bedford” was a big undertaking that I took on after the initial planning stages had already happened. While we weren’t able to bring Rep. Lewis to Bedford (despite valiant efforts by Ginni Spencer to convince his staffers to put it on his schedule), I did have the chance to meet him at a conference that same year and tell him about our program based on his book. [The overall program included several book discussion groups, a forum on graphic novels, a screening of the film SELMA, and two guest speakers on issues of civil rights and the Civil Rights Movement: Rev. Irene Monroe, a syndicated columnist, and Bob Moses, a former SNCC member, and civil rights activist. I had a great team of TBC board members and friends helping out, and I relied heavily on the experience and support of the Bedford Free Public Library, which went above and beyond to help TBC make the program happen. I’m proud to have brought this trilogy to many people who might never have read a graphic novel otherwise. MARCH aligned with TBC’s mission to support democracy, intellectual freedom, and freedom of speech, and I was happy to be a part of that project.
The Bedford Citizen wishes Emily Mitchell all the best and is eager to watch her future endeavors. Something tells us, she won’t be sitting at home twiddling her thumbs!