[Editor's Note: This story initially was published June 29.]
I started working for Patch in April 2010, after initially being hired to run a Patch site a bit further east that would launch sometime later that year. Fairly quickly, I was offered the opportunity to helm the Albany site.
The launch date for Albany Patch was still somewhat undetermined, and I spent about two months getting up to speed, helping out with other Patch sites that were already live, and just generally getting oriented.
I still remember when, sometime around the first week of June 2010, my then supervisor let me know we'd received details about when the site would go live to the public: ! Instead of the three months most sites had to prepare for launch, we'd have three weeks. It still sounds kind of insane, and I'm not totally sure how we pulled it off.
With very little background and very few contacts in Albany, we set to work figuring out which stories to cover and how to begin to get to know the community.
It was a whirlwind getting all the pieces into place. It probably could not have been done without the help of fellow reporter Barbara Grady—a long-time resident who offered both her talents as a reporter and her insights about the city.
Pretty quickly I came to know residents like , , , and , , , , and , who were regulars at many city meetings and events.
I got a crash course in civics from helpful folks at City Hall, such as , , Jeff Bond and Police Chief Mike McQuiston; and was awed by various efforts the city had undertaken to build community with the skillful creativity and organization of and .
Over time, I've been extremely honored to work with a range of freelancers, most of whom are longtime members of the community, who have added more to the site than I can begin to thank them for. Among them: , Dorothy Brown, , Mary Flaherty, Barbara Grady, Justin Huang, , Tony Leonard, , Catherine Rauch, and Neo Serafimidis.
There have also been a range of community members and local residents who have shared their thoughts on various topics and helped both inform others and encourage dialogue. Among them: , , , , , , , and the folks at The Cougar Online.
About a year ago, we added a new section to our site, Local Voices, where local writers can share ideas about a range of topics that inspire them. We now have more than 70 registered users of that section who have produced more than 500 blogs. They have added a whole new dimension to Albany Patch, with political cartoons, amazing recipes and food photos, philosophical meanderings, political analyses, mental and physical health tips, and more. We can't thank them enough.
I would also be remiss if I didn't thank Patch and its creators for having the insight to develop this nationwide community news network, and continuing to invest in both original local reporting and fostering local connections.
There just isn't a good way for me to express my gratitude to everyone I've met so far; this job can be tough but I've learned so much about so many different topics and, perhaps most importantly, about what it means to be part of an engaged community filled with people who truly care about the people and institutions around them.
As I said to a friend Thursday morning when we were talking about a recent story, after another late night trying to synthesize a complicated, nuanced topic: There remains to be a lot of work to be done, and I regularly feel like I fall short. There are quite a lot of important issues in this town of 18,000, despite its misleadingly diminutive 1.7-square-mile profile.
It still makes me smile to think back to those early days, when I was first telling people about Albany Patch, before it launched, and I explained that it would be a daily local news website. Pretty much everyone looked at me with skepticism and asked: What are you going to find to write about in Albany every day??
Well, let me assure you: It has not been a problem. The main challenge is simply to find the energy to do it all, and to do it all justice. There continues to be no shortage of stories to explore, and I am thankful for that.
I am also thankful for everyone who has taken the time over the past two years to stay late at City Hall after another interminable meeting to explain a complex topic like municipal zoning codes, or has met me for coffee to break down how school budgets work; to write or call me to share concerns about our coverage of sensitive issues, of which there have been several; to contribute to the site in any way, from sharing photos, sending in letters and columns or commenting on stories; and otherwise just helped make this site—work-in-progress as it is—something, I hope, we can all be proud of, which we have truly created together from the ground up.