By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Communities created one piece at a time


A healthy, vibrant future depends on building strong partnerships
among individuals, businesses, institutions, organizations

It seems so long ago that I wrote these words for the Friday Viewpoints appearing after Thanksgiving in 2019.

There was no thought back then of the pandemic to come. But perhaps some kind of premonition preceded that change of annual message from “Shop Local” to “Community Partners.”


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column


This year, that message — reprinted below — seems even more relevant.


For 31 years, this space has featured variations of our long-running “Shop Local” crusade. We still have a passion for supporting local businesses, but this year our message is one even more interwoven into our shared communal fabric — that local people, businesses, institutions and organizations are, in so many ways, partners in their community.

Before explaining, here’s a thumbnail history of our campaign:

In 1990, we launched “Shop at Home,” a campaign embracing the economic, cultural and social reasons for shoppers to support local businesses.

When the Internet came of age, that name sounded suspiciously like an invitation to shop online. So, in 2009, we renamed our campaign “Yamhill County Shop Local.”

In 2013, we rebranded as “Shop Local Advantage.” But each reincarnation retained all the basic elements of our decades-old shop local campaign.

Today, supporting local businesses still is a central theme, but it doesn’t seem broad enough in scope. The needs of a strong community go beyond simply encouraging people to shop local. And over time, that plea has become almost a cliché, making it easy to ignore.

Now, let’s talk about partners:

Sellers of goods and services are partners with their local customer base. Together, they help keep the community diverse and economically strong.

Engaged citizens are partners with public and private institutions, charitable and nonprofit agencies, and special-interest groups of all kinds. These individuals and groups need one another.

In all communities, progress requires an ethic of cooperation and a spirit of shared responsibility.

In strong communities, that spirit soars. It may occasionally wane, but always rises again at key times to move the community ahead in positive directions.

It takes all kind of partners.

As a communications hub, the News-Register is a partner not just with its subscribers, but also to the broader population. Newspaper readership may have declined as a percentage of citizens, but it remains a vital element of community connectivity.

A good newspaper works to sustain positive ties between citizens and units of government, even when acting as a critic. A good newspaper seeks to connect local people with important organizations and consumers with local businesses. A good newspaper seeks out shared efforts that help define and shape the best parts of its local community.

There are, of course, challenges.

Local businesses have lost revenue in the digital revolution. Almost 2,000 American newspapers have closed since 2004. A much broader list of closures includes tens of thousands of retail outlets throughout the country.

Compared to past decades, people engage each other more through social media and less through shared community experiences. More people are drawn to consistently biased communication media that helps fuel a bunker-mentality of public affairs. People focus more on their differences than their similarities.

Communities grow and change, sometimes dissolving some of the “glue” that once held many partnerships together. When that happens, even strong communities with vibrant traditional partnerships can encounter roadblocks to progress.

And so, this holiday season and beyond, by all means remember to support local businesses. They are year-round contributors to your community in so many ways, repeated so many times during our continuing shop local campaign.

As 2021 draws near, we find ourselves thinking about ways to help strengthen all kinds of community partnerships — especially those involving local businesses and readers who make it possible to continue a community newspaper.


A 2020 Epilog

There’s no need to remind readers about the ordeals of 2020 in health, economics, politics and culture.

When this historic pandemic ends … when the politics of division are softened by collaboration … when people regain balance in their lives … the quality of American life still will need some basic tenets:

Shop local in support of a strong/diverse economy; contribute to local charities and nonprofit groups; recognize the importance of positive community interdependence; be part of the solutions rather than part of the problems.

And of course, when you can, support the work of your local, independent community newspaper!



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