Midtown: Community

March 24, 2014

Your comments create community

There’s always a hitch in my response when someone asks “where are you from?” Or, in the more genteel Southern means of inquiry: “where do you call home?”

There’s always a hitch in my response when someone asks “where are you from?” Or, in the more genteel Southern means of inquiry: “where do you call home?”

Having spent my childhood in Kentucky, my young adult years in Florida and come August, nearly four years in the Triangle, I’m comfortable saying anywhere is home.

Pressed for a definition, home is the place where I feel connected to those around me. Home is where I know my neighbors and can greet them by name. It’s the place where on any given day I can easily discuss the local news and exchange ideas and conflicting ideals with a relative stranger. Home, to me, is the place where I feel a sense of community.

As defined by social psychologist Seymour Sarason in the mid-70s, and further conceptualized by researchers McMillan and Chavis (both surnamed David) in the 80s, sense of community is a psychological sentiment with three components: being part of a structure of similarity, possessing an individual willingness to belong to that structure, and feeling as though one has influence within the structure.

Sense of community is the driving force behind publications like the North Raleigh News and Midtown Raleigh News. Our special mission is to take a closer look at local structures including education, government, recreation, faith and more, and to offer news and information that readers can use in defining and strengthening their ties to the local community.

In these pages, our definition of community is primarily bound by our circulation areas. But to call these areas “communities” simply because they share ZIP codes strikes me as odd as assigning a label to a group of people, e.g., “the faith community,” “the black community,” “the gay community,” as if a single collective noun can suffice to convey the myriad experiences within each group.

The descriptors are convenient for journalistic purposes; however, generalizations made for the sake of convenience can contribute to superficial reporting, a practice that often marginalizes diverse voices. That’s something the staff of the North Raleigh News and Midtown Raleigh News would like to avoid — but we need your help.

Like our counterparts at the Durham News, Chapel Hill News and several other of The News & Observer’s 10 community papers, we invite you to send letters to the editor, op-eds and even tweets to help us capture the kaleidoscope of views within our region.

Our differences are welcome here in the newspaper, where comment is free, facts are sacred and user-generated content that engages local residents is a godsend.

In the weeks to come, as I continue to settle into my role as editor of these two publications, I encourage you to help us develop a greater sense of community in this area by contributing to our pages both in print and online, and occasionally making some time to meet with members of our news team as we report on the stories that matter to you.

Your willingness to belong here — by picking up our paper, clicking through our site, and interacting with us online — is a choice. And with that choice comes an unparalled degree of influence. It’s easier to find your views and those of your neighbors here than in national publications, and chances are that the responses your contributions garner will be more meaningful because they come from people among whom you live, work and play with each day.

Our communities in North Raleigh and Midtown Raleigh have a certain physical depth, but we possess the ability to foster depth and strong sense of community through our willingness to contribute to the news, opinion and information that echoes from our respective corner of the world.

For now, these pages are the place I call home. I trust you will, too.

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