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Happy Birthday to Albany Patch: Now 2 Years Old

Two years ago, Patch chiefs in New York City "flipped the switch" to publish the site to the public after an intensive month of preparation. My life has never been the same.

[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 FlahertyBarbara 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.

Sylvia Paull June 29, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I read Albany Patch BEFORE I read the NY Times, and that's because of your great coverage, Emilie, as well as all the folks you've enlisted from the community to help keep up informed and connected. Sometimes it takes an outsider to bring insiders together.
Emilie Raguso June 29, 2012 at 02:39 PM
THANK YOU, Sylvia! I was trying to find a way to work in "Emilie Raguso Appreciation Day" to this post but didn't manage. One of my absolute favorite memories in Albany! Thanks to you :) http://patch.com/B-4nR
Barbara Grady June 29, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Thanks for your kind words, Emilie! It's been fun working with you and getting to know you. And HUGE congratulations to you on doing an outstanding job with Patch. Albany has been lucky to have you in our midst!
Peter Goodman June 29, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Success of Patch in Albany can largely be credited to you, Emilie. You've become a near irreplaceable part of our community. The news has just not been the same since you came to town!
Joe Camero June 29, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Happy Birthday Albany Patch!
sally francis June 29, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Congratulations and Happy Birthday! And special congratulations and appreciation to Emilie. As one of the new owners of Albany Arts Gallery, I have frequently emailed you for help, and you have been very responsive to my requests. Much appreciated!
Moriah June 29, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Happy Birthday, Albany Patch, and heartfelt congratulations to you, Emilie! I am so grateful for AP and how it has changed my life in Albany. I had long desired truly local news, and your work has not only answered that desire but has gone above and beyond it. The site has actually made me feel like a real resident, a real neighbor -- because I finally have a grasp of what's going on in my town and have connected with fellow residents in new ways. There's a reason Albany Patch was a Best in the West winner; it just takes a glance at other Patches to see how amazingly lucky we are. Thank you, Emilie!
Brian Folk June 29, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Thanks, Emilie, for all your hard work in creating this labor of love. Your efforts at community-building are invaluable and much appreciated.
Alan Eckert June 29, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Thanks Emilie for your work on Patch, and thanks for dropping off my water bottle prize at my house!
Neo Serafimidis June 29, 2012 at 05:23 PM
A big happy birthday to albany.patch, and a huge "thank you" to you Emilie for your continuing hard work and commitment creating this important community asset!
Caryl O'Keefe June 29, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Happy Birthday Albany PATCH! A million thanks to Emilie who has in 2 years done an amazing job informing a community about the local news, in ways that have also allowed us to talk with each other. Real journalism.
Eugene Veklerov June 29, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I want to join the chorus of those who wished a happy birthday to Patch and Emily. In addition to being a great source of information about local events, Patch provides a platform for people to express their opinions on local issues. It would be great if these opinions were forwarded to the proper City departments. Many of us have no time to attend open meetings. It would be great if the comments published in Patch be treated just as comments made at open meetings.
Tod Abbott June 29, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Wow, has it only been two years? Congratulations Patch, and thank you, thank you, thank you to Emilie!
Emilie Raguso June 29, 2012 at 07:27 PM
You all are making my day, by the way. If you are looking for a little break, check out the video above, which shows screenshots of the home page -- mostly from the past 6 months, but some earlier too. It's funny to see how the site design has changed. THANK YOU ALL! Also, shout-out to Whole Health Apothecary -- also 2 years old today! http://albany.patch.com/listings/whole-health-apothecary Aangan is about the same age as well. http://albany.patch.com/listings/aangan-indo-nepalese-cuisine Who else can we celebrate??
Kirsten Schwartz June 29, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Happy birthday, Emilie, Patch Maker. I love the Patch; thanks for keeping me connected!
George Johnson June 29, 2012 at 11:35 PM
It is great to have a place to check on the happenings of our little city and to see what is on everyone's minds. Thanks Emilie, for keeping me informed and taking the mostly thankless task of not only informing but also moderating the comments on topics that matter the most to us (and can be quite heated).
Art Simon June 30, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Thanks Emilie, the Patch has become regular reading for me. Most of what goes on in Albany would otherwise be a mystery. We're lucky to have you, and it's nice to see people who would otherwise be on opposite sides of most local issues come together to say thank you to Albany Patch!
Peggy McQuaid June 30, 2012 at 05:33 AM
Congratulations to both Emilie and to the Patch community. Emilie, you have done an amazing job - thank you.
isabel Lau June 30, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Happy Birthday Albany Patch! Wishing you, Emilie, and Albany Patch continued success.
Paul D June 30, 2012 at 04:24 PM
I remember seeing Emilie at a City Council meeting announcing the arrival of Patch and then watching her skipping away from the podium in her red vest with her camera over her shoulder. Her enthusiasm made me an early-adopter.
Tanya Grove June 30, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Happy birthday, Patch! I have to chime in with Peter G. and everyone else in praising you, Emilie, because you are the reason Albany Patch is so good.
Jon Meyers July 01, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Fantastic work, Emilie, and all the others who have contributed. Your work is very much appreciated!
Ellen Hershey July 01, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Albany Patch is a terrific addition to our community. Thanks, Emilie, for your vision and all your hard work, and thanks also to the many Patch contributors who make Patch a great read.
Blake Yeaman July 02, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Amazing job Emile, thank you. And happy Patch birthday. It is a great work of journalism and a real community dialog. It adds to the small town feel that Albany pride's itself with. Thanks also to everyone who participates in making the issues go deeper with these comments, regardless of which side of the fence you sit on for each topic. Cheers!
Judy Ikeda July 02, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Dear Emile, Big kudos to you! We truly appreciate how helpful it is to have your services as a resource for our fine city! Also, thank you for your immense energy, good nature and dedication to the Albany Patch!! All the best, The Ikedas
Alan Wei July 02, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Thanks Emiie for all your fine work with the Patch!!
Susan Adame Artist July 05, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Emilie, thanks for the great work that you have done on Patch!
Karen Larson July 27, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Sorry to have been out of town on the actual birthday day but I would be remiss if I didn't say THANK YOU, Emilie, and Happy Birthday Patch!
don October 01, 2012 at 09:22 AM
thanks albany patch good work now where do we go for that slice of cake don
Emilie Raguso October 01, 2012 at 04:12 PM
You're a few months late :) but thank you!!

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