The Town Column is an intimate news item found in local weeklies, historically, across the nation. Relevant, in print, it’s fortunate to have town columns continue in the age of digitization. Rural community is greatly supported by the continuing institution of the local weekly. It informs us, but also defends all other communal institutions through reportage of everything from schools, town management, churches, clubs and societies, businesses, and local entertainment. But the town columns referred to in this Green and Blue House entry are, additionally, the cozy-news source, the one that makes the reader especially welcome and participating as an individual.
In our local are many columns, each representing rural town-news, towns associated in our territorial school district.
Students come from all over the rural area as each town plays and pays it’s part to support local kids K-12. You may call the volunteer town columnist and he or she will report for you when sending in to the local weekly. In addition, the info making each town columnist unique is their personal weekly thoughts and adventures.
At the bottom of each column is an e-mail address to send in your town news. When we first moved here it would be a phone number (landline of course). Sometimes now you find social media links in these print columns as well in.
The school administrative districts in Maine are comprised of various geographic monikers, kinds of community so designated by geographers. These include the rural Towns or the rural (unincorporated) Townships proper, plus towns, villages, hamlets, and neighborhoods. I’ve written about these designations elsewhere, but will focus briefly on neighborhoods. I am hedging a bit here: I found no formal geographers definition or category for this. Wikipedia quotes the Aspen Institute, as I paraphrase: neighborhoods are local geographic spaces where face-to-face interactions take place. Our rural example would be Beans Corner in our incorporated Town. One farmstead and a few houses with cemetery, historic Grange hall, and defunct two-room schoolhouse comprise the neighborhood. The Maine Atlas does not concern itself with this homely moniker. It calls the intersection of two roads East Be.
The town columns includes such categories: village, hamlet, neighborhood. Each may or may not have its column depending on editorial and writing interest. In this entry on the local weekly, Wikipedia describes these columns as containing anecdotes about out-of-town visits, hallmark family news, and illnesses. The entry claims these columns are largely a thing of the past. Not in the Maine weeklies. Here these columns thrive.
One last thing to note. Writers can use town roles in developing characters. A fictional character might make fun of these columns. I’ve a character in The God’s Cycle who mocks them. This character also cites transition in this fictive community. She is a crank, not well-liked by many, come in on the heels of a back-to-the-land movement. Here the type of the town crank is refreshed from Ruth Moore’s local old man egg-farmer, into youngish woman goat-keeper from away. The former is in the 1960’s A Walk Down Maine Street. The God’s Cycle setting is early mid-1980s. Little does our female crank know. Transition, certainly, but not in the way she’s thinking. Simply, she’s not farseeing enough to realize the Internet with its disruptions. There the transition will be one of expansion, not depletion.
With the Internet, town columns will be globally transfigured–into social media, facebook, the blogosphere. The character must be thinking her mockery of no account to the gossiping neighbors (except to make her unpopular). And that such ranting and gossip is just something very small town. No one else in the wide world does this sort of thing. … Unless they are surfing the great ocean of the Internet and becoming/encountering trolls.
Could you put this in the town column please? I have this blog but can’t get the word out. Also, I find print very trustworthy these days. Gatekeeping. A lot less likely to be trolled.