For 15 years, West Central Streets shared stories of its community’s faces and places until it closed up shop in January 2011 due to funding and employment issues.
The newspaper was one of Local Investment Toward Employment’s, or LITE’s, longest running community grant partners. It was known for bringing community members together and for shedding light on positive West Central neighbourhood stories.
Since the paper’s departure many folks in the community had been mulling around the idea of bringing a new paper onto the scene. That is precisely what the Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews Community Association and Spence Neighbourhood Association have done with Our West Central Times.
Last August, the SNA and DMSMCA put out the first issue of the paper with the intent of filling the void left behind with the departure of West Central Streets.
Our West Central Times publishes about 7,500 copies of each issue which are distributed to some 500 homes and 400 businesses in three West Central communities — Spence, Daniel McInyre, and St. Matthews.
Cameron MacLean, SNA community liaison, co-edits the paper along with Jen Nagy, the DMSMCA’s outreach co-ordinator.
"We work together to come up with story ideas, access stories when they come in, determine the general direction of the newspaper, and find advertisers," said MacLean, noting that Nagy takes care of most of the paper’s layout and accounting.
"We definitely strive to be like what West Central Streets was," he added. "It’s the mould we cast ourselves in. Those are big shoes to try to fill, we know.
"So far, we’ve had stories from community members who’ve moved back into the area, stories on local artists and prominent activists in the community, stories on cornerstone community and non-profit organizations, and stories written by community youth."
Most of the paper’s contributors are community members who volunteer their time.
What readers will find in Our West Central Times, according to MacLean, is "hyper-local content written by people with a real attachment and knowledge of the area’s people and issues."
"People always say this neighbourhood is very tightly knit. There’s a strong sense of community, of commitment to making it as good as it can be. There are major issues needing to be addressed, like violence and prostitution. But we’re also committed to reflecting the positive side of the neighbourhood, the things that people don’t generally see reflected in other media."
Our West Central Times is a quarterly publication and is currently seeking people interested in writing for the paper or in submitting works of art. The paper rarely assigns stories, with most writers approaching the publication with their own ideas.
For more information, to submit a story idea, or to advertise in the paper, send an email to MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Nagy at email@example.com.
Rebeca Kuropatwa is a community correspondent for the West End. You can contact her at beca72ca.yahoo.ca.