OPINION | Ten years with the Park Bugle


Ten years ago I introduced myself in this space as the Bugle’s new editor. This month I’m saying farewell. Approaching the end of a long-term involvement is an opportunity to wax meditative. I hope you’ll indulge me as I take that opportunity here. 

When I took over as editor, the Bugle still had an office. While tidying up there one day, I noticed a dead plant. The foliage had withered to the point that it was impossible to tell what kind of growth it had been. I thought about tossing the whole thing, but the plant was in a hand-painted ceramic pot, so I deferred. Leaving for the day, on impulse I poured a little water on the crusted soil.

I didn’t get back to the office until the next week. I’d forgotten about the dead plant, but when I noticed the pot, I saw that several green shoots had appeared. I gave them some more water, and over the next weeks a spider plant emerged.

Spider plants are easy to propagate, and that parent’s progeny graced my wife’s office for many years. We still have one offspring in our home, and I’m currently rooting one of the spiders and wondering where it should go.

Thinking about plants is an opportunity to wax metaphorical. I hope you’ll indulge me as I take that opportunity here.

Plants have a visible manifestation – leaves, stems, flowers – and a hidden one: roots. Newspapers are similar, and I’d like to reflect a bit on both the seen and unseen components of the Park Bugle.

The heart of any paper is its writers, and the Bugle has benefitted from having some excellent ones. Four of the bylines in this issue – Michelle Christianson, Mary Mergenthal, Lisa Steinmann and Natalie Zett – predate my tenure as editor. The continuity afforded by their ongoing presence in these pages has done much to maintain the Bugle’s stability.

But newspapers, like other institutions, profit from new blood, and the writers who joined the Bugle since I started have helped reinvigorate it. Two of those represented in this issue – Roger Bergerson and Clay Christianson – were lured out of semi-retirement to grace these pages. I got to know another writer, Anne Holzman, because she’s my neighbor, and I was delighted to learn that she’s a talented writer.

Insofar as their names are attached to what they produce, writers are among the visible contributors to a paper. Joining them in those ranks are advertisers, without whom no newspaper would exist.

Here, too, the Bugle has been fortunate to have long-standing advertising support. Some businesses that began advertising in the paper 35 years ago are still here. Their continuity has contributed to the stability of the communities the Bugle serves, and those communities have also benefitted from the many new businesses that arrived in the intervening years.

You don’t have to look very hard at a paper to see writers and advertisers, but finding some other important contributors to the Bugle requires a closer scrutiny of this page than some readers are likely to give it. Among the names listed in the left column are Christine Ames and Genevieve Plagens, our two advertising representatives. Both are new additions to the staff, and their enthusiasm and commitment bode well for the Bugle’s future.

Two names belong to volunteer proofreaders. Christine Elsing and Nancy Healy have done much to ensure that the Bugle reads well.

There’s another important person at the Bugle, but he’s even harder to find. Under the heading “Production” is Summit Graphic Design, which is a one-man operation in the Como Park neighborhood. That man is Steve Parker, and for most of my time as editor he’s been responsible for making the Bugle the best-looking community newspaper in the Twin Cities.

In the lower-left corner of this page are the names of the Bugle’s board of directors. Actually, they’re board members of Park Press Inc., which is the 501(c)3 nonprofit that publishes the Park Bugle. They serve their communities – St. Anthony Park, Como Park, Falcon Heights and Lauderdale – by volunteering their time and talents to help maintain the Bugle as an important community service.

One more group of names on this page deserves mention. It’s a list of contributors, and its size fluctuates according to where the Bugle is in its annual fund drive cycle. The Bugle has only a few subscribers, mostly people who previously lived in the area and stay in touch with their former community by reading its paper. In place of subscription income, the Bugle depends on contributions from its readers, and without that support we would cease to be.

We’ll be starting our next fund drive in a few months, and I hope you’ll make a generous contribution to the Bugle’s future.

For 10 years, I’ve been saying “we” when referring to the Bugle. It’s going to be a tough habit to break.