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Hometown newspapers record our community’s history.

<p><p><strong>Wendy Anderson</strong></p></p><p></p>
Dr. Wendy Anderson

Government documents record what we did — births, deaths, marriages, divorces, property transfers, and official actions of government bodies. But local newspapers create and store the archive of not just what we did, but why we did it, and why it mattered.

Unlike government documents, newspapers record who we are, and store who we were, as a community. What high-school band won the district competition? What new businesses are opening, and what do people think about them? What community groups hosted various special events that define the values and personalities of our cities? How many properties got rezoned to be clear-cut for hundreds more cookie-cutter homes, and what do people think about that?

The weekly news might seem fleeting, only to be replaced by next week’s news, but, in fact, once it is done being news, it instantly becomes history. And we need to record and store our stories.

The increasingly polarized national media have made us weary and wary of the media now. Most of us recognize that we have choices about which brand of media we consume, and that brand choice is a major influencer of our view of the world.

But this local newspaper is not that kind of media. The West Volusia Beacon is truly committed to reporting multiple perspectives and giving all sides a voice.

I confess I’m sometimes annoyed at them for giving voice to people or things I disagree with, but they do. Why? Because they are recording our history. Those diverse voices are all part of our community, and they shouldn’t be erased from our history.

In 2035 or 2050, when our children are grown and are fretting about why they have to ration water, or griping about the traffic congestion at the spaghetti interchange at Interstate 4 and State Road 44, when they are fighting congestion on the southern beltways into DeLand and Lake Helen that used to be the small roads known as Summit, Beresford Extension and Prevatt, or reaching for distant memories of seeing 750 manatees packed into Blue Spring Run, or taking their children for weekly chemotherapy treatments, they will be able to Google (or whatever the technological equivalent is in that time) stories from the old newspapers to be reminded that we did these things in the 2010s and 2020s that they are now living with.

Our elected leaders approved all of these houses they are living in, including the ones on top of an old toxic dump, and the community knew even then that there would be consequences.

Our children can go back to newspaper archives of the 1980s, just like we can now, and learn who was on the City Commission that approved the original rezoning of the old city dump into “Low Density Residential with a Recreational Overlay” so the existing golf course could someday be sold for a tidy profit to build hundreds more homes.

We need our local newspaper to inform and celebrate who we are as a community in the present. That news weaves the threads of our social fabric.

And we need this local newspaper, which has dedicated reporters, photographers and editors to record our community’s history. They have to eat and pay rent or mortgages, too.

Imagine supporting this newspaper for the benefits it provides right now in featuring the stories of our daily lives. And imagine supporting this newspaper for our future generations’ ability to learn what we did now.

Subscribe. Donate. Get involved.

— Anderson is a professor of environmental science and studies at Stetson University, and chair of the Volusia Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors. She has been promoting sustainable community development for 20 years.

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