On the 50th anniversary of the Glebe Report
On the 50th anniversary of the Glebe Report
By Elaine Marlin
Looking back over the Glebe Report’s history, what strikes me most is the generosity and commitment of thousands of volunteers: writers, photographers, illustrators, production team members of many specialties, ad and business managers, deliverers, board members and editors. Some have been professional journalists, some first-timers, most contributing their talents gratis.
Many fledgling community papers were starting up little 8-page publications at the time the Glebe Report produced its first issue. All part of the “Volkswagen” press. But this particular newspaper is among the few that have flourished for half a century. It has gone on to become the paper of record for our community, (online at glebereport.ca with an almost complete archive as well as in print), the chief source of local news and a beautiful publication to look at as well. I think all of this success is directly attributable to the generous community spirit that has shaped it.
Knowing what is going on at the local level has knitted this diverse community together. Where else could you find out what we are saving, protesting or promoting this month? Where else can you encounter such civil discourse from people of opposing views? Where else could you access the latest news on community associations, recreation, businesses, schools, proposed developments and local politics?
As a former editor, contributor and board member, this is my message to those who haven’t been involved yet. Try it. Those of us who have will tell you that, despite some hard work, it has been both rewarding and fun to be part of such a creative endeavour!
Elaine Marlin was editor of the Glebe Report from January 2003 to May and then August 2005.
Fond memories and future thoughts
By Inez Berg
It was long ago, before the Internet, email, Facebook, the Twitterverse. the Whateverse even. In the mid-’70s, I was a new mom, new to the Glebe. Marnie Johnstone, then Glebe Report editor, invited me to join their production team and write articles. Thus began an adventure in community building that informs me still.
I met staff and volunteers, mostly women, at the paper’s small office in the Glebe Community Centre off the northeast corner of the Main Hall. Here submissions were typed (yes! on Selectric typewriters), proofread, then “cut and pasted” onto waxed pages. The finished product was sent by bus to press in Renfrew. Days later, 7,000 bundled Glebe Reports came back, and volunteer carriers delivered them to all Glebe homes and businesses. Two weeks later, we started again.
Open office windows caught summer breezes to cool us. In winter, we endured the ominous offbeat symphony of clanking radiators. A laughable part of our esprit de corps during the day, this proved unnerving when working alone after dark. One memorable night, the clanking paused, a tuneless whistle commenced, then new clanking and dragging! Dousing the light I waited, terrified. Finally, mustering the courage, I peeked through the mail slot. There was the caretaker serenading himself as he dragged metal chairs into the Main Hall.
Equally unnerving was the mumbling of “the Pink Man,” a tall, elderly, raw-boned veteran. He roamed Glebe streets and would slip into the centre to hide and shelter overnight. Eventually, a new alarm system prevented both his and real nefarious entries.
Our office moved upstairs, above the Main Hall, to a long, narrow room that perfectly housed our workstations and production team. Computers and word processing were now used. I became editor in 1987 and very much enjoyed all my co-workers and the many interactions with our community, GCC and The Pantry staff. As my family grew, so did my activities. Working in the Glebe Co-op Playgroup, joining school councils, the Glebe Community Association and GNAG deepened my knowledge of healthy community. I understood and promoted the critical role that the Glebe Report – our homegrown newspaper – played in providing equal opportunity for our public to communicate and share. In 1997, I resigned as editor to run for City Council. I won and served as Capital Ward City councillor until the end of 2000. As corporate “community papers” proliferated, I fought to retain city support for the real ones.
The Glebe’s biggest challenge when I was Glebe Report editor and city councillor was Lansdowne Park redevelopment. My success mandating open public consultation was curtailed in 2000 when Ottawa and regional councils voted to hand Lansdowne Park over to the region, critically diluting any future Glebe influence on its development. All communities in amalgamated Ottawa now suffer the same diluted ability to manage change locally. They struggle to learn of city-approved development in their areas, to have a place at the decision-making table and get access to city proceedings. Can community newspapers play a role to change this? The Glebe Report’s new website has potential. Unlike the monthly paper, it will have 24/7 capacity to notify and inform the community of important events. This is an invaluable option to consider.
Happy anniversary Glebe Report! Congratulations to all who have built and will continue to build your success!
(Originally published in the Glebe Report, June 2013.)
Update from Richard Berg, as Inez is recovering from an illness.
Inez was a very big part of the Glebe Report for many years. It was such a big part of our life for so long, it doesn’t seem like almost 26 years have gone by since she stepped down as editor! There will be a lot of people who won’t have a clue on how integral her contributions were to the success of the paper over many years.
She began writing articles for the Glebe Report in the 1970s and was the editor for 10 years, a fifth of the paper’s 50-year history. As I recall, she also continued to write columns and take photos for the paper as editor. On one “infamous” photo assignment, she went skating on the canal during Winterlude and tried to take a picture of a dog in a sweater that had caught her eye. Some inattentive skater bumped into her from behind, driving her foot into a crack, resulting in a nasty spiral fracture that took months to heal.
I know how much time, work and dedication she put into the paper. As well as the long hours and late nights during publication, there were also several occasions when the pick-up date for the proofs could not be met. To be sure to meet the publication deadline, we drove to Renfrew to drop off the proofs for publishing – I went along just to keep her company.
She was also very active in the community, attending meetings and events to keep abreast of community issues to include in the paper. Inez left the editor’s job in 1997 to run for City Council and won by a large margin but decided not to seek re-election at the end of her term. After leaving the editor’s job, she continued to deliver the Glebe Report to the Sunnyside Library and Old Ottawa South Community Centre until recently.
Inez Berg was editor of the Glebe Report from December 1987 to September 1997. Richard Berg is her husband.
On turning 50
By Ellen Schowalter
In June of this year the Glebe Report will celebrate its 50th birthday. Born on Penny Sanger’s kitchen table in 1973, it has printed over 550 issues. Much has changed in the Glebe since I served as editor of the Glebe Report in 1986-87, and during the 20 years that I served in different capacities such as ad manager, art director, layout designer, volunteer carrier and board chair. Production technology has changed tremendously from cut and paste layout, with text produced on an IBM Selectric typewriter as big as a small Terrier, and colour a rare treat compared to the GR’s present elegant format, both in print and online.
I was very fortunate to work with a wonderful group of people. Trust, cooperation and support for each other were huge job benefits. Long days and sometimes nights and holidays were fuelled by cups of tea, and a supply of red licorice along with muffins from The Pantry. If child-care arrangements fell through, staff would bring their children in to be settled at a desk with paper and drawing materials to provide illustrations for “Kidspace.” There were several honorary canine staff members as well.
The how has changed but not the why, nor the important and very successful role that the Glebe Report plays. The Glebe Report is a free monthly not-for-profit community newspaper that receives no government funding nor direct subsidies and is funded by its advertisers.
By nature, a monthly newspaper provides room and time for in-depth articles and features that are magazine-like: essays, reviews, short stories, poetry, travel pieces, photo spreads and artwork. For 50 years it has attempted to inform and enrich our neighbourhood by representing in a fair, balanced and inclusive way the interests of our diverse and vibrant community. Fortunately, the Glebe is home to many talented writers, artists and people with very highly developed skills in every field who have shared their knowledge and experience so generously over the past 50 years.
Although much has changed in the Glebe, many concerns remain the same or have become even more urgent in the past 10 years. Lansdowne Park, traffic, densification, parking and zoning remain problematic.
The Glebe Report has been and continues to be a remarkably stable and strong community builder. Cheers Glebe Report! Thank you to all the staff, contributors and volunteers, past and present.
Ellen Schowalter was editor of the Glebe Report from September 1986 to November 1987.
Reflecting the times and getting it right
By Julie Houle Cezer
Reflecting on the time in which I became editor of the Glebe Report is to travel back to a community and a newspaper that were beginning to navigate the muddy waters of disruptive change.
By early 2010, the Glebe already faced a protracted and controversial push and pull over the Lansdowne Park redevelopment proposals. Along with OSCAR, the Glebe Report became the paper of record for much of the detailed analysis (from traffic studies to finances, from legal implications to environmental impact) that both challenged unexamined assumptions and seriously considered harms as well as benefits. By late 2011 and 2012, background stressors in the community were further heightened due to the Bank Street Reconstruction, which tied up the main thoroughfare, hitting local businesses particularly hard. Needless to say, there were many different viewpoints to communicate to residents to keep them well informed, and all members of the production team including volunteer proofreaders were extra vigilant about fact checking, clarity and attribution in a concerted effort to “get it right.”
After a requisite learning curve and several months of increasing focus on public business (including the October 2010 municipal elections), I started to really appreciate the need for the Glebe Report to make a concerted effort to create more balanced coverage of both the community’s “centre” and its “periphery.” To do so would entail reflecting diverse viewpoints and interests, and highlighting activities and events organized by individuals and smaller, informal groups in the Glebe.
In practice, maintaining balanced coverage still meant keeping my ear to the ground on matters being championed both by “centre” institutions of the community (GCA, GNAG, BIA) and local elected officials. But in addition, it meant making time for outreach, and during pre-production, being physically present in the community. At times, sourcing inspiration for articles simply grew out of attending events; alternatively, story ideas often were pitched during a chance sidewalk chat.
As a harvester of content, I was less motivated to become a reporter or storyteller myself than to function as a talent scout who could recognize and cultivate a working relationship with those contributors who had the passion, skills, experience and determination to share their interest with readers. More than a decade later, I still remember clearly how thoroughly I enjoyed the process of matching writers, photographers and artists to a subject. I found great satisfaction in supporting their process and success in contributing creative content within the operational guidelines of the Glebe Report.
I remain grateful to the production staff and volunteers, who through their collaborative efforts and commitment to excellence, actually made it possible to bring inspiring community stories and images to the pages of the Glebe Report.
Julie Houle Cezer was editor of the Glebe Report from January 2010 to June 2014.
Glebe Report Editors