It was three years ago that we issued the first print edition in what would be a trend in the opposite direction of most publications. We started out on the web in 2007 and never thought about printing but the people of Frankford wanted a local newspaper and said so at the PhillyRising focus group meetings. Things started to click that summer and with the help of a lot of people (Tim Wisniewski, Patricia Coyne, Tracy O’Drain and Michelle Feldman) we got it done.
The August edition marks the start of year four. This would not be possible without the generous sponsorship of Health Partners Plans who prints the copy for us each month. You can find links to the pdf file of each of the print editions on the PRINT EDITION tab at the top of the page under the Gazette logo.
As a news source for Frankford, we’re always on the lookout to see how we can better engage our audience. Specifically, we want people to be informed of events and meetings before they happen. We actually judge our effectiveness on how many people show up for meetings.
We understand that many in our community aren’t able to check the Frankford Gazette on their computer every day. To that end, while the entire news industry moves away from print, we’ve walked towards it. By printing our internet posts and distributing them along Frankford Ave, we’ve increased our ability to attract our intended audience who might not be inclined to search the neighborhood news on the web.
To that end, when we came across Text Blast, developed by local civic hacker (and Frankford celebrity) Tim Wisniewski, we thought it would be an excellent opportunity to further put seats in the meetings. It’s a free service that will let us send a notice to many subscribed users via text message. Our current thoughts are to get a good subscription of cel phone numbers together and then blast them all with a single text message about a civic meeting, or town watch meetup, or park cleanup, etc. This is definitely a work in progress, but I think this is going to really help get the word out about civic involvement.
So if you’re interested in receiving announcements about Frankford community events, text message the word FRANKFORD to 215-987-5555. You won’t get any reply, I’m hoping the developer can fix it so that in the future it will return a confirmation. It is anonymous. We will have your cel phone number but no more information than that. If at some time in the future you want to turn the service off, you can just notify us by email.
I note with regret the passing of the Frankford Special Services District. The legislation that created the FSSD had a sunset provision which meant that it had to be renewed by City Council to continue beyond the end of 2011 and that did not happen.
Tim Wisniewski, the FSSD Executive Director, has moved on the a position in the Philadelphia Managing Director’s office. The folks who worked on the street for the FSSD have, we hope, found other employment. Their loss will be the most visible since they did contribute significantly toward a cleaner and safer business corridor.
The loss of the FSSD now puts a greater burden on the Frankford CDC which is the only entity left standing working toward the improvement of the Frankford business district.
There is a meeting scheduled for January 19th at 6PM by the CDC to discuss their 2011 accomplishments and 2012 plans. This is a public meeting where you are invited to hear from them and share your ideas with the CDC staff. It will be held in the second floor conference room at Aria Health. Don’t be left out of the process, come to the meeting.
The January print edition is about to go to press so I am posting a link here if you would care to take a look.
My thanks to Tim Wisniewski, Executive Director of the Frankford Special Services District who has been doing the work of publishing the print edition since August. He did the initial design and layout of all the editions until this month when I attempted to fill his shoes. It was not easy but it is done.
Tim Wisniewski at the PSA meeting
Tim was instrumental in the effort to get the Gazette into print. Jimmie Saunders of PhillyRising first raised the issue back in July since it had come up in discussion by residents as something that was needed by the community. A meeting was set to discuss the possibility. We met with Jimmie, Tim Wisniewski and Patricia Coyne in the offices of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations down on Lehigh Avenue.
We talked about what could be done and how it could be done. It was Tim who said let’s just do it and do it now, not next week or have endless meetings to plan it out. So we did and it got done.
There is no doubt that we would have done it one way or the other. PhillyRising does get things moving. Tim volunteered to do the layout and get it distributed and that made all the difference.
Ongoing, we will be doing the layout here and the CDC will handle the printing and distribution. Printing now courtesy of Tony Payton’s office until a permanent printing solution can be found.
Frankford’s own Tim Wisniewski has developed two new text message applications. One is geared towards helping Frankford residents find out their polling place, ward and division, and elected officials. The other will provide Frankford residents with the closest local source of fresh, affordable produce who also accepts food stamps.