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Extra, extra, read all about it

Resident-produced publications keep neighbors informed

Created date

May 25th, 2017
Current communications committee members seated around a table (from left): John Hedley, Pat Westine, Jan Aronson, Annie Bartholomew, Margaretta Smith, Kay O’Brien, Joan Peacock, Suzi Weinert, and Pauline Wratten.

Current communications committee members (from left): John Hedley, Pat Westine, Jan Aronson, Annie Bartholomew, Margaretta Smith, Kay O’Brien, Joan Peacock, Suzi Weinert, and Pauline Wratten.

Dedicated to keeping the people who live at Ashby Ponds current, the communications committee works diligently to produce two completely resident-run publications. Next Week, a weekly newsletter, describes the upcoming week’s many activities and events, and Around the Ponds, a quarterly publication, highlights the talents and personalities of the community’s unique neighbors.

“I am continually amazed with the talent we have at Ashby Ponds,” says chairman Mary Terry. “That talent is seen not only in the stories we publish but in the hard work and dedication of our publication’s writers, photographers, cartoonists, and poets.”

Humble beginnings

Among the first people to move to Ashby Ponds in November 2008, Mary was elected to the Resident Advisory Council (RAC) in 2009. 

“I went on vacation and returned to find that in my absence the RAC elected me chairman of the communications committee,” says Mary. 

Speaking volumes to the foresight of the pioneering committee, Mary continues to hold the position leading the efforts of her many neighbors who make the two publications a reality.

Mary’s most important job was to create ways to keep residents informed and up to date on the numerous activities on campus. As a former elementary school staff member, Mary had published a weekly informative paper for parents. 

“I believed something similar would be of great use to our community members,” she says.

Just the facts

Mary and a dedicated team of nine volunteers went right to work producing the first informational Next Week on January 29, 2010. With only purple paper available for printing the publications, the residents quickly referred to it as “the purple paper.”

A few months later, Pauline Wratten joined Mary’s team. She provides invaluable typing, proofreading, and layout skills.

“She’s the one person we couldn’t function without,” says Mary. “She types, edits, organizes, and does whatever is necessary to keep us focused.”

With Next Week up and running, the communications committee directed their attention to the production of a more in-depth quarterly publication focusing on the people and events that make Ashby Ponds unique.

The first issue of Around the Ponds debuted in September 2010.

“We started with 8 black-and-white pages and within the first year expanded to a 12-page color publication, which is what we produce today,” says Mary. “The only exceptions are our five-year anniversary edition and a diversity-focused issue in 2016.”

“We receive positive feedback from both residents and management, which keeps the publishing going,” says Janet Aronson, one of the original nine volunteers. “When new residents arrive, they supply us with new ideas. Many of us were journalists and writers in our jobs and enjoy continuing in that field. We all feel that we need to continue these stories about where we live.”

Happy recruits

Now with both publications well into their seventh year of production and with the size of the community growing exponentially, Mary continues to enlist the help of talented writers and photographers. Happy to help, the dedicated volunteers find their work fun and rewarding.

“Mary asked me to take pictures for Around the Ponds, and I was happy to oblige,” says Greg Johnson. “Scheduling a shoot and taking the photos provides me with the opportunity to meet neighbors I hadn’t met before.”

Fellow photographer Joanne Horton agrees. 

“Introducing myself to residents is always a pleasure,” she says. “I always follow up by sending out the photos so they can be shared with friends and family. It’s a joy to see the same people later at either restaurants or events. I always remember the picture associated with the story.”

Ashby Ponds writers also find their work fulfilling. Not long after moving to Ashby Ponds, published author Suzi Weinert agreed to attend a communications committee meeting. 

“I had no intention to actively participate,” she says. “But Mary’s vision, charisma, the professional way she organized interested people into productive people, and the resulting group’s energy captured me. Before I realized it, I had volunteered as a reporter.”

Looking forward, Mary and her team remain dedicated to continuing the hard work that has made these publications such an important part of community life at Ashby Ponds. 

“As our community continues to grow, these publications help provide a robust sense of community and awareness of specific talents and the myriad of events happening on campus,” says Joanne. “There is something for everyone whether they are new to Ashby Ponds or have been here for years.”