Given the low participation and level of interest expressed by people at the Facebook discussion and in private conversations I've had over the last few weeks around town, I’m recommending to the current Voices Board of Directors - Elaine Meder-Wilgus, Art Goldschmidt and Chip Mefford - that they hire an attorney to begin the process of closing Voices of Central Pennsylvania, paying off remaining debts and disbursing remaining assets.
There are not enough community members willing and/or able to do the work required to fund and operate the newspaper in an effective way. The current model of scrambling for content, working without sufficient staff, and worrying whether money is available for publication is not sustainable.
Effective immediately, I'm resigning as editor-in-chief, and will be exploring possibilities for launching new citizen-media structures under the auspices of either New Leaf Initiative's 501(c)3 or Spring Creek Homesteading Fund's 501(c)3.
The closure of Voices is not an isolated predicament, nor is it a blameless one. There are individuals who could, but probably won’t, be held responsible. Around them stand multiple ranks of individuals who could have, but did not, step up to support the paper’s efforts with their labor as leaders, reporters, donors, distributors, photographers, or advocates.
It’s also not a victimless predicament.
People need accurate, timely, contextualized, public information about what’s going on where they live, and they need civic leaders empowered by knowledge and citizen support to successfully confront and stop power abuses. Privacy helps abusers to get away with their abuse. Exposure helps victims organize and resist.
That information and civic leadership is not being provided by the Centre Daily Times, the Daily Collegian, the Gazette, StateCollege.com, WPSU or any of the other media in town.
As a result, the whole community suffers from collective, ongoing traumatization as power-abusers repeatedly get away with abuse. It's as bad for bystanders who witness the abuse and are helpless to stop it as it is for those who endure the abuse personally.
It's fostered a profound learned helplessness: deeply ingrained habits of denial and willful blindness that enable dysfunctional, destructive individuals and organizations to occupy crucial public spaces, at the tremendous cost of foreclosing possibilities for healthy individuals and organizations to get a foothold.
If you are are interested in exploring possibilities for developing a healthy civic culture in the Centre Region, contact me at email@example.com.
It's important work, but not for the faint of heart.