And we’re back! 

I thought I’d get us started today with a bit of a State of the Union about the Local Knowledge Blog. When I started this blog four years ago, I had little idea the role it would play locally, or the role it would play in my own life. But here we are — starting up a fifth year of writing. Here’s what you can expect: 

The foundational goal of this blog is amplifying local issues and voices. With relatively few local media sources (and the sad news that the Inquirer no longer has someone on the “Camden beat”), there is a need for coverage of issues that may not rise to the level needed to convince a major publication to send a reporter, and this blog can be a space for that type of local coverage. I think we’ve been blessed with a talented cast of reporters (Phaedra Traethan and occasionally Jim Walsh at the Courier-Post, April Saul who has a new column at Newsworks, Allison Steele and Kevin Riordan at the Inky, Kevin Shelly at Philly Voice, I’m sure there are more) all of whom have both a heart for Camden and experience covering the city. But they also are burdened with the restrictions of modern media, meaning they’re stretched thin and often have a target audience that extends into the region. This blog can help fill the gaps of truly local content. 

The blog is also a place for challenging “the narrative” about Camden by amplifying voices that do not always have access to publishing in traditional media. I’m extremely proud that this was a launching point for now-CEA president Keith Eric Benson — who was one of our first guest posters on the issue of education. I’d like to think that his experiences here, getting the word out in a supportive environment, played a small part in helping him move on to bigger and better platforms. Please consider that an invitation to write here. Our setup is designed to be particularly user-friendly — we have no word limits and you can post anonymously. You can even submit videos if writing isn’t your cup of tea. It’s also a place to challenge narratives, develop ideas, and think in critical ways of what is going on around us. In that way, we differ from more traditional media sources — we’re not here just to cover issues, but to frame them, analyze them, and think about them.

This blog is also a platform for my writing, analysis and work. I believe that Camden could use a good dose of analysis about policy choices, and of a skeptical eye on decisions being made across the city. Ultimately, that kind of voice — which we’ve specifically cultivated here — improves policy and politics by shining a light and fostering discussion. There are others who think criticizing, discussing and analyzing policy decisions means you’re not a “team player”, but I truly believe that in challenging times we can fight wider injustices while also being reflective and analytical about improving our own communities. 

That’s who we are, and who we’ve been. But there are some changes this year: 

  1. First, the posting schedule. I used to be able to post daily — but between getting married a year ago (!) and the tenure pressure, I’ve had to cut back. Over the past year or two, the posts have been haphazard, but this year we’re going to stick to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday posting schedule. On Mondays, Jared Hunter will have his column (thanks Jared!). Wednesdays will be Camden-specific, either a guest post or my writing on a local issue. Fridays will be a bit more of a recap article, with bite-sized pieces on different issues. I’ll be experimenting with the format, but it will be based off a format one of my favorite sports writers (Zach Lowe) uses. He does a regular column including “10 things I like and don’t like”.
  2. Speaking of that Friday column, it’s going to include more regional and state issues. That reflects my evolving research and work here. One of the things Camden has taught me — and that strikes me as more and more important the deeper I get into this work — is the interconnectedness of regions and communities. So many of the issues facing Camden are tied to regional political dynamics, to segregation and so much more. My own work here at Rutgers will reflect that: I’m doing my first state-wide work on a grant with Robert Wood Johnson that, yes, includes Camden, but also has me in 10 different counties and communities. My writing will reflect that too: I’ve joined the team at Blue Jersey and will be writing there on state-wide political issues. I won’t cross-post that writing here, but Fridays will include some overlap and I’ll promote my work at Blue Jersey. The moral of the story here is that this space (and others I’ve worked in) will continue to adapt as my work does, and right now that means adding more regional and state-wide content. 

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with invitations to attend events (or protests!), suggestions for issues you’d like to see addressed on the blog, guest posts and more. We’re excited to be back, and thanks for taking the time to be a part of our community! We’ll start with our regularly scheduled posts tomorrow.


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