by Pete Mazzaccaro

This week marks the fourth issue in January and the last of four special covers appealing to our readers to become members of the Chestnut Hill Community Association, both as a means to support the important work of the CHCA and to support the community journalism of the Chestnut Hill Local.

Early returns are promising. People are choosing to renew their memberships and to switch from subscriptions to memberships. Many new people are deciding o join as well. The fantastic Passport to Chestnut Hill Experience is a nice selling point. Who wouldn’t want more than $1,000 in really good deals at area shops, restaurants, museums and other institutions?

I wanted to go one bit further here in my weekly column to plug the value of the Chestnut Hill Local. For 62 years, this community-owned newspaper has been the lynchpin of not only Chestnut Hill but Northwest Philadelphia. That is even more true today than it’s ever been.

When I first started contributing stories to the Local about 20 years ago, there were robust community papers in Mt. Airy, Germantown, Roxborough, Springfield and Glenside. Today, most have disappeared. Those that remain are shadows of their former selves, often carrying regional stories and press releases with little original reporting or storytelling.

That is not the case with the Chestnut Hill Local.

Including this week’s issue, the Local will have published nearly 100 stories about Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Germantown, Springfield Township and more. We’ve covered dozens of local performances and book releasees. We’ve covered more than 20 local school sporting events.

We’ve covered important news events:

We reported on the closing of the Germantown Avenue McDonald’s and the owners’ search for a new tenant. We reported on Springfield Township’s formation of a new historic preservation commission. We covered neighborhood concerns over a new development proposal on Rex Avenue and how East Mt. Airy Neighbors opposed an eight-unit apartment building project on E. Durham Street.

We’ve shared stories of interesting people in our area:

We told the story of how Elfant Wissahickon broker Tamika Nealy-Farmbry got into real estate, spoke with Germantown Friends School grad Kritsten Welker who was named a co-anchor on NBC’s Weekend Today show. We’ve told dozens of stories of local authors, artists, businesspeople and school kids.

While the Local isn’t the only source of information out there, if it ever were to disappear, the alternatives – Facebook, Nextdoor, etc. – would not replace that function at all. The stories of our neighbors’ accomplishments, the important zoning projects down the street, how your school’s varsity basketball team played last week, and many more would simply not be told.

Getting this paper to you every week is a remarkable effort by everyone involved: the staff here, our fantastic contributors, the sources of our stories and you, the readers and subscribers who make sure these stories keep coming. We can’t do it without your support.