The idea of summing up two years in 700 words is a daunting one. However, I’m contractually obligated to give it a shot.
Really it’s the least I could do given all that this paper and the community around it has done for me over that time.
I mentioned this community in my first incoming editorial two years ago, specifically how I was excited to be editor so I could remain a part of it. At the time I had meant something like “I want to be friends with all of the people currently involved.”
But here we are now, and only three people whose names appeared in the staff list in that issue, and only nine from the staff collective, are still involved. Many have graduated, many are still here but have moved on to other things.
Despite all this, the thing I’m going to miss most, wherever I end up, is going to be the Arthur community. And it’s that same community I’ve been talking about all along.
There’s more to community than a list of people. My favourite definition is “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” (Full disclosure: that’s the second thing that shows up when you Google it.)
It’s a fact of university life that the list of people involved in any given club or group varies widely from year to year. Groups like Arthur, Trent Radio, the TCSA, TISA, the Trent Philosophy Society, and more find themselves existing year to year, but with a huge amount of turn over.
But the community that exists between these individuals is a firm constant. The fact that I can pick up a copy of the paper from 20 years ago to write This Issue In History and see a bit of myself in it is something truly special.
Throughout my terms at Arthur it’s been a goal of mine to facilitate that sense of community to the best of my ability.
I think generally being approachable and easy to contact has been an important part of that, but another key piece is that this year and last we’ve been keenly focused on covering news on an ultra-local scale.
We are, after all, just a bunch of beauties who love the news.
I think this, more than anything else, is that common interest or goal that binds the people who get involved with Arthur.
What flavours a particular volume’s sense of community is the way the editors and Staff Collective set out to cover the news.
As mentioned, Matt and I have taken a distinctly ultra-local approach that focuses first and foremost on the Trent community, then more broadly on the Peterborough community. If ever it extends beyond that, the first thing we task writers with making explicit is the relevance this provincial, national, or international story has on the Trent community.
We’ve also problematized the distinction between so-called “hard” and “soft” news.
Too often in the past, editors of Arthur have focused on one at the expense of the other. Sometimes this means petulant attempts at breaking “the story,” and sometimes it means reactionary and uncritical regressions into pages of fluff content.
Matt and I have emulated Burger King, and whether you’re here to read about the Braden Freer scandal or Local Tunes, we’ve got you covered.
Why not? Why can’t both logically co-exist? Why can’t Arthur employ writers and facilitate volunteers who each see the merits of wildly different types of stories?
I think community is at its best when its members are as little alike as possible.
When we bring together our own unique perspectives and share them together with one another, that’s the mark of truly successful community building. That’s diversity at its finest, and that’s what the Trent experience should be about, regardless of what group you’re involved with.
If nothing else, I think Arthur has facilitated a beautiful community while I’ve served as editor, and I’m excited to see how this community develops next year. I know I’m eager to remain a member of it.