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Written by Cherie Snyder   
Wednesday, 13 August 2008 18:51


The Appalachian Independent had its rather humble beginnings in 2006 – a group of old friends (Cherie Snyder, Craig Etchison, Kurt Hoffman, and Vicki Peterson) were enjoying an evening of conversation and a glass of wine (fine wine, not boxed!) at Kurt and Vicki’s home in Frostburg on a warm summer evening.


Amidst the usual discussions about our children, our work at Allegany College of Maryland, and the state of the world in general, we were lamenting the need for “edgy" news coverage for our local area - the stories, opinions, and news that cannot be covered by traditional newspapers. Jokingly someone said -"Well then! Why don’t we just start our own paper?!" We all laughed a slightly dismissive laugh.


But then the laughter stopped, and we collectively sat in sobering silence pondering the absurdity/possibilities of that random quip. Someone had the audacity to break the contemplative silence by saying the unspeakable - “Well, why not??!! Why not start one ourselves?" After a somewhat stunned silence, the huzzahs commenced and our glasses (fine wine, not boxed) were raised to Ben Franklin and a free press!!


Although the next morning shed new (and more realistic) light on the whole idea, the thought remained in our minds and from time to time we would bring it up and indulge our selves in some dream time. Over the next few years, we would mention this dream to other kindred spirits and we would all nod and smile and say “Someday let’s plan a get-together with anyone who might be interested.”


After some fitful starts and stops, “someday” happened. We sent emails announcing a discussion inviting our friends to discuss the possibility ....“Our village needs a voice! Your county needs you!”


And so it was on another hot and muggy Indian summer evening in 2007 we found ourselves at the Draft Zone in Frostburg with 20 other people ….about 15 more than we expected. Following much discussion and a sense of excitement, we adjourned to Dante’s where John Neral and Jeff Thomas (those edgy traditional Irish music guys) were playing, with the hope that our creative juices would be further fueled.


Further meetings were held at Main Street Books in Frostburg from September 2007 through February 2008. Over this time period, a small group of people emerged who were willing to work to get things off the ground. This “Gang of Seven” included Jeff and Susan Davis, Kara Rogers Thomas, Dick Kerns, Kurt Hoffman, Craig Etchison, and Cherie Snyder. Others who offered assistance at different times throughout this early period were Mary Spalding, Steve Robinett, and Steve Gibson.


Around November, Dick Kerns discovered a possible source of funds, J-Lab, The Institute for Interactive Journalism, out of University of Maryland. With a quickly approaching deadline of mid-February; the group worked week after week to hammer out their ideas, submitting the grant only minutes before the midnight deadline.


One historical detail, however, that eludes the original "Gang of Seven" to this day is where the name “Appalachian Independent” came from. Cherie, who wrote the grant, insists that the group decided on this. But no one else can even remember that it was suggested.


Since we were meeting at Main Street Books, that bit of amnesia cannot be blamed on Kurt's fine (not boxed) wine....


Three months later in June 2008 the call came from J-Lab that we were funded. (Our Grant) At this point, Ron Krug and Woody Getz joined us to add their much needed expertise in the areas of marketing and technology.


The core group (or Dirty Dozen as Dick Kerns calls us!) committed to “the dialogue of democracy" currently consists of Jeff and Susan Davis, Craig Etchison, Kurt Hoffman, Cherie Snyder, Kara Rogers Thomas, Dick Kerns, Mary Spalding, Steve Robinett, Woody Getz, Ron Krug, and Vicki Peterson. Each brings many different perspectives to the project and many different reasons for involvement in the paper, but they share a passion for grass roots efforts, democracy, America, and our beautiful mountain community. (Read Why I am Involved essays for more details.) And so the saga continues!


P.S. Despite the earlier meetings exclusive use of fine (not boxed) wine, the current commitment to building an Inclusive Community allows that, on occasion, fine boxed wine will be served. The rights of the minority (to be specific - 2 out of 12 of the Dirty Dozen) are protected! Power to the people!


The dialogue of democracy at work....


Last Updated on Saturday, 01 November 2008 09:53
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