|Mira Brody on growing up with The Voice
I was in first grade, in Mrs. Bane’s class, with a Tupperware bin full of small dinosaurs and blocks in front of me, the shoulders of two other classmates pressed against mine as we crammed to sit together at one small table. The room was filled with a cacophony of voices; it was PDR (Plan, Do, Review) time, a sort of organized free time.
The classroom door opened and in came an older gentleman, white hair, a camera around his neck and a notebook in his hand. He was from the newspaper: The Community Voice.
It’s funny how a photo can be broken into two separate occasions: the memory of having your picture taken, and then that moment you first scrutinize it in print (a step now almost completely eliminated by the digital world). A week later, I remember my mother showing me the paper with my face on it. A little grainy black-and-white rendition of the fun I had been having that day in class with my friends and my dinosaurs.
I was in the newspaper!
Convinced I was now something of a local celebrity, I showed my classmates my portable crinkled copy, now mummified by the months of loose lunchbox crumbs it shared lease with at the bottom of my backpack. I was proud that my face was voluntarily used in a public forum. I was proud that it had been taken by Jud Snyder, whom my mother had explained to me actually was a local celebrity.
The issue came and went with no major changes to the rest of the world, but the sense of elation, that concept of power reporters had, to mold what the community was exposed to, obviously stuck. I wanted to make people feel just as I had when a small slice of my world had been put under the spotlight. That single second of me, during PDR time in first grade is forever fossilized in our city’s newspaper records – maybe I could be the interpreter for those archives.
My second brush with The Voice was a couple years later, when a classmate of mine, Sami Disharoon, lost her battle with a brain tumor at the age of eight. The ensuing article, by Karen Forni, I felt had captured the life of my classmate in the span of five paragraphs so vibrantly. It may not have been a story for the pages of big name, widespread news source, but that was the point. The stories in The Community Voice are supposed to be significant to those within the community, stories that possibly had the ambition to, but would not always translate to the bigger picture.
There was a story about my boyfriend’s father when he passed away, one when an old classmate won a statewide golf tournament and coverage on fellow Rancho Cotate High alumni’s competition in The Biggest Loser. A community newspaper means turning a page and recognizing a name or two, reminding us that no matter how disrupted we are by change, that it still remains a small town at heart.
Ten more casinos can move in, taking residence along the blank spaces on the Hwy. 101.
The new Highway 101 sign can grow five times bigger overnight, or three more Walmarts can open, but the stories of the people who live in these small North Bay towns will never shrink in importance. Whether someone is feeding the hungry, battling cancer or illustrating the lives of a first grade classroom, there seems to always be space in The Community Voice.
Yatin Shah, the owner of the newspaper, as well as my boss, told us that you should never work for someone, but rather with someone, a philosophy he clearly applies to his business. We aren’t writing to please anyone but our readers. Sometimes when I interview people, I see in their faces the same feeling I had in Mrs. Bane’s class 18 years ago; the exhilaration of sharing their voice.