As many of you already know, several weeks ago I made the decision to accept a new role as a senior reporter with Berkeleyside, a community news website in what some of us have affectionately called, up to this point, "Albany south."
Since launching Albany Patch in June 2010, I've watched with pride as our online community grew to include an extensive collective of contributors, commenters and bloggers.
When I first started getting to know Albany in April 2010, and began letting people know of Patch's plans to launch a daily news site, many community members were skeptical that there would be enough happening in Albany to feed its demands.
It became clear early on, however, that what Albany lacks in size, it more than makes up for in passion and engagement. The challenge has always been finding enough hours in the day to attempt to cover all the issues that citizens, business owners, local government and school officials are working to accomplish.
I've been able to explore major development issues such as the University Village mixed-use project (formerly known as the Whole Foods project); the possibility of Lawrence Berkeley Lab bringing a proposed second campus to the Albany waterfront; the occupation of the Gill Tract; and failed attempts to bring more cell coverage to Albany residents.
I've learned how city budgets work and how school district budgets work. I've watched the construction of the Albany Pool (ahem, the Albany Aquatic Center), the creation of the Albany farmer's market, and the return of monarch butterflies to Albany Hill. And I've learned just what keeps Albany Police officers busy (despite what some folks might think).
Perhaps most importantly, I've also learned how to pronounce "Albany" and "San Pablo Avenue"—the right way.
This month has been particularly challenging, but I have been heartened to receive countless messages from community members in support of our efforts, as well as many thoughtful words from those of you who have taken the time to suggest ways we can improve.
Over the years, I've had the support of my editors, Alex Gronke and Ari Soglin, and west coast Patch chief Marcia Parker, as well as my indefatigable colleague to the north, El Cerrito Patch editor Charles Burress.
And I've been delighted to get to know a talented stable of local writers, photographers and other contributors to both the community and our site: Peggy McQuaid, Barbara Grady, Dorothy Brown, Mike Cabanatuan, Mary Rees, Mary Flaherty, Kate Rauch, Neo Serafimidis, Doug Donaldson, Jon Kawamoto, Justin Huang, Karen Sorensen, Michele Strider, Moriah VanVleet, Michael Barnes, Neil Mishalov, Preston Jordan, Amy Smolens, Francesco Papalia, staff at The Cougar Online and Ned Purdom, Nick Pilch, Jim Beller, Mac McCurdy, Catherine Sutton, Peter Goodman, Amy Marsh, Jeanne Loughman at Saint Mary's College High School, Amber Whitson, Winkie Campbell-Notar with the Chamber of Commerce, Tod Abbott, Carol Carlisle, Toby Bielawski, Cathy Hanville, Dan Hess, Damon Lisch, Dan Lieberman, Hannah Greene with Keith Carson's office, Tracie Morales and Maha Ibrahim with Nancy Skinner's office, Caryl O'Keefe, Alan Riffer, Allen Maris, Marsha Skinner, Karen Nierlich, Karina Tindol, Laurie Roberts, Pam Tellew, Yvonne Gallegos, Ulan McKnight, Neil Ramos, Nir Maoz, Robert Marshall, Robert Zweben, Stacey Simon, Sylvia Paull, Michael Randolph, David Sanger, Tanya Grove, Tatyana Ryevzina, Timothy Buckwalter, Ross Stapleton-Gray, Tony Kontzer, Tony Wolcott, Brian Parsely, Allen Cain of the Solano Avenue Association, Clay and Joan Larson, Karen Larson, Zack Mensinger and every single city staffer I've had the pleasure to meet and learn from, not to mention the City Council, council candidates, school board, school leadership team, PTAs and PTSA, local business owners on Solano and San Pablo... and the list goes on. (I'm sure I'm forgetting some very key figures but I hope you'll forgive me. I'm already cringing at the inevitability.)
As the list above illustrates, Albany Patch has very much been a team effort from the very beginning. The success of the site has hinged on the tireless efforts of many people who have contributed their time and talents for little or nothing in return, purely out of their commitment to making Albany a better place, and helping the site serve as a resource to local residents who want to know more about the key issues around them.
I would also be remiss if I neglected to mention Linjun Fan, whose work creating Albany Today laid the groundwork and whet the appetite for a truly local community hub, which I hope Albany Patch has become, and which I hope it will continue to be. I had the pleasure to meet her in person this week when she visited Albany from her home in China.
Thank you, also, to all of you who came out Wednesday to wish me well, watch the debate, and share in two divine and beautiful cakes created by local baker, artist and "office lady" extraordinaire Moriah VanVleet. And thanks also to the Hotsy Totsy Club and Royal Ground Coffee, where I've spent many hours in conversation over the past two-plus years with those of you who attended my weekly office hours to suggest story ideas, offer feedback or simply share a drink together.
I have been honored to get to know all of you and grateful for the countless hours many of you have spent giving me a crash course in what a truly engaged community looks like. This has been so much more than a job, and I'm not sure any work experience I'll have in the future will be able to match the joys and challenges of being part of this process.
Finally, the big reveal... The question many of you have asked me is: What happens next? Veteran Patch editor Analisa Harangozo will be taking up the reins at the Albany and Berkeley Patch sites. I know you'll reach out to her, as you've been so generous to do with me, to share story ideas, guest columns, letters to the editors, blog posts and local knowledge of every variety.
I truly can't say thank you enough to everyone who has helped along the way. It's been an honor and privilege. Remember, we'll always have Facebook.