March 1, 2024 — Hyperlocal Journalism

Jeff Powell
4 min readMar 1, 2024
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Greetings everyone, and welcome to March. I’m astounded at how quickly it feels like time is going by. I know I say that regularly, but somehow it’s always true. I look away for even a moment and — *poof*! — a month has passed.

I think I have recovered from my trip. Everything that was delayed has been resolved, and my inbox is down to manageable levels once again.

And of course, the big thing is that today — March 1 — saw the latest community email go out. This issue is 34 pages long and it’s full.

Back when we lived in California, I started thinking about something I vaguely called hyperlocal journalism. My thought was that someone (possibly me) should start paying attention to what various levels of local government and bureaucracy were doing, particularly as those things related to the neighbourhood I lived in. This would get written up and shared with the neighbourhood so that everyone who paid attention would be better informed. (And rather surprisingly, the term hyperlocal is in relatively common use now. I had no idea.)

These ideas were driven by the slow death spiral of actual, local journalism, which has only continued since then. If no one is watching, then a lot can go undetected, or unremarked upon. And with local journalism dying, who is watching?

Sadly, I never took the next step while living down there, though I thought about it regularly. There were … reasons … for that choice on my part. (I’ll leave it at that. If you want to know more, try attending a couple of Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meetings and then talk to me.)

When we moved into our current neighbourhood, I accidentally fell in with some members of the local community association. They needed a new website and eventually I caved and said I would do that. (The words “tar baby” should now be coming to mind. And if that phrase is new to you, click the link to learn a bit about it.)

Not content with just the website, I agreed to help out with the monthly email, and now it’s mine. (Another tar baby, in all probability.) But given that I have the platform, I’ve decided to use it to work on my hyperlocal journalism concept, so I’ve started attending district council meetings (they happen weekly, for the most part) and writing up things that might be of interest to those living in the area. The March issue was the first one to include that column and the response remains to be seen, but it’s been an interesting exercise in learning about local government here in BC.

Stepping beyond my original “watch the politicians” theory, a publication like this is also an exercise in community building, and that has value all by itself. Just helping people get to know more about where they live and who their neighbours are makes a community more resilient in many ways. That’s another reason to take this on.

Thankfully I am (mostly) retired, so at least in theory I have time.

Also, being retired means I am not trying to make a living from this effort. It’s probably not a sustainable model in the long term, but apparently neither are advertising driven local papers.

Anyway, that’s all been a very long winded way of saying that I am working on this thing that I’m kind of proud of. It’s a big job and takes a lot of time, but I hope it proves useful to people other than me.

If this idea sounds interesting, I strongly encourage others to try it. This is one place where some of the original ideas of the web can still shine: a small website isn’t too hard to create or expensive to maintain; you can get the word out; and you don’t need a zillion dollars and/or venture capital to get started.

And if you’re looking for inspiration, here’s a link:

March Blueridge Bulletin

You’re welcome to borrow any of the ideas you see in there if they have appeal. I don’t think I’ve created anything new or unique. Importantly, if you have suggestions or comments, please share them with me. The only way I’ll get better at this is if I hear from others and get exposed to different points of view.

I find that getting involved makes a difference, and I get out much more than whatever I put in. I suppose I could just hide all day and worry about other things (or not worry at all) but that’s not how I am wired. I hope there are a few others out there who feel the same way. If so, you’re welcome to get in touch so we can talk shop.




Jeff Powell

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.