Communities are realizing that it is what makes a location unique that also makes it marketable. In other words, sustainable development is about capturing and communicating a sense of place.
To achieve this end, an effective means to create consensus and to cooperatively make critical local choices is required — from front porches to Main Street to City Hall.
We live at a unique moment in history. Information gathering and sharing has become powerfully and suddenly democratic. The newspaper industry as it has existed is quickly passing away, leaving “news deserts” in its wake in small to mid-sized communities across the country. The lookout is on to find those willing to take up the reins and create new local hubs for information and discussion.
Some believe that the best response to this challenge is scale. Newspaper chains have joined together to form mega companies that drain assets left from existing media, shrink newsrooms, and most importantly, run directly counter to creating a sense of place.
There is another way. The Local Independent Online Publishers organization, for instance, has brought together news leaders who are engaged in locally-focused, independent, and creative media enterprises. Open source content management systems and online tools can sustain and enhance those efforts.
Ten years ago, a small town in Ohio took steps to change its future by launching such a site. Born from a controversy over the loss of a local landmark, a communications tool was created that, a short while later, fostered a change in the way the town governed itself.
That story lives on today in successors to that site which operate under the Total|Local Media name.
Total|Local Media promotes a strong, cost-effective model which can equip community-minded entrepreneurs with platforms to promote positive change in their locales. This includes both community news sites and niche sites focusing on specific topics.
Too often place advocates are timid and even apologetic for their views. Taken at face value, however, those ideas could have a profound and positive impact. Imagine if instead these civic leaders could be at the forefront of change, creating the vocabulary and framework that communities use to think about and plan for their future.
Our current sites are 1812Blockhouse, serving Richland County, Ohio; and 1808Delaware, serving Delaware County, Ohio. Both are members of LION Publishers, the country’s leading consortium of digital online news sites.
A third site, 1831Galion, came online in September 2022 and acts as a sandbox for new ideas and approaches to news collection and distribution.
For more information on Total|Local Media, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.