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Life in print

"The Brooksby Villager" showcases writers at Peabody community

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May 5th, 2017
Faye Williams is the editor of The Brooksby Villager, a quarterly journal written and published by people who live at Brooksby Village, an Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass.

Faye Williams is the editor of The Brooksby Villager, a quarterly journal written and published by people who live at Brooksby Village, an Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass.

Every time Faye Williams pulls new story submissions from the boxes located in Brooksby’s craft rooms, she feels a pulse of excitement.

“It’s like Christmas,” says Faye, editor of The Brooksby Villager, an independent quarterly journal written and published by residents of the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass. “Every story is a present, unique and exciting.”

The Brooksby Villager was first published in November 2003. Since that time, more than 200 community members have written articles or poems for one of the journal’s 54 issues.

“Residents are encouraged to submit original articles—poems, stories, or essays—less than 500 words in length,” says Faye. “New writers are encouraged as well as timely, seasonal articles, since the Villager comes out in spring, summer, fall, and winter.”

What’s my assignment?

Faye’s own career with the Villager had something of an unanticipated beginning. 

“I moved to Brooksby Village 15 years ago from Danvers,” she says. “After I moved, I was looking for ways to get involved. I saw the announcement that a group of residents was starting a journal. I’d never done anything like that before, so I thought I’d give it a try.”

Gerry Donovan was the founding editor of the Villager. He was facilitating a meeting of residents interested in working on the publication when Faye walked into the room.

“I was a little late to the meeting because I’d been babysitting my grandchildren,” says Faye. “Gerry looked up at me and asked if I liked history. When I said yes, he replied, ‘Good, we need someone to interview the mayor of Peabody.’”

Before Faye could object, another member of the group offered to drive her to the mayor’s house. 

“When we left the meeting, someone told me how nice it was that I volunteered to interview the mayor,” says Faye. “I never did volunteer, but somehow there I was, on my way to interview the mayor of Peabody.”

Writer, then editor

Despite her initial hesitation, Faye prepared a list of questions for then-Mayor Peter Torigian, who was instrumental in bringing Brooksby to Peabody.

“I found I didn’t really need my questions, after all,” says Faye. “We just chatted and had a lovely afternoon.”

Faye returned home to her Brooksby apartment and wrote up the interview.

“Initially, I thought my primary contribution to the Villager would be as a proofreader,” says Faye. “But Gerry kept telling me I was a good writer and encouraged me to keep at it.”

Faye’s role for the Villager expanded once again when Gerry went on an extended trip to China.

“He asked me to take over editorial duties while he was overseas,” says Faye. “I was nervous because I’d never done anything like that before.”

As time went on, Faye discovered she enjoyed the editor’s role, checking the submission boxes for new stories and running them past the editorial board for approval.

“Gerry returned from China and said he was happy to pass the baton to me,” says Faye. “So I’ve been the editor ever since.”

Dedicated staff

For each issue, Faye convenes six or seven meetings of the editorial board—all resident volunteers—to assess each submission.

“I read the stories without disclosing the authors so the board can evaluate each one impartially,” says Faye. “Very rarely do we send an article back to the author. There’s a group of writers who submit stories regularly, but we typically feature two to three new writers per issue.”

Once approved, the Villager team begins the layout process.

“We’re tremendously fortunate to have such a dedicated staff,” says Faye. “Our production manager Roberta Gosselin is a key person, not just for her computer skills, but also for her artistic ability.”

Jennifer Smith-Petersen, community resources coordinator at Brooksby, acts as the staff liaison to the Villager. She sends the final layout for printing off-site.

“We print 1,000 copies of each issue and distribute them in the mail rooms and the craft rooms,” says Faye, who’s frequently stopped in the hall by residents to discuss the latest publication. “Our goal is to make each issue better than the last.”

Preserving history

As a testament to the hours and dedication of The Brooksby Villager staff, Faye maintains two large binders filled with every issue published.

“We’re preserving the history of Brooksby Village in these pages,” says Faye. “I feel so honored to serve as editor. It’s a way for me to give back to the community that’s been such a wonderful place to live.”

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