That newsletter you get in your mailbox isn’t The TGCA newsletter, the last issue of The Horizon was delivered in April 2020
The community newsletter has long been one of the quintessential bolts in the community mechanism, producing information and bringing people together. Simple, right? Well, getting information out to the community has always been essential for community associations, but how it’s collected and delivered has changed a lot over the years.
Flipping the Pages
Long ago, before the internet and email (okay, it wasn’t so long ago), the newsletter was literally the only way people learned about what was going on in the community that month, other than word of mouth, billboards and maybe the odd announcement in the newspaper. If you can imagine, not getting your newsletter delivered meant you’d have to call a neighbour to find out what’s going on.
From around the 1960s until the early ’90s in Calgary the many local community associations were a hive of activity. There just weren’t amenities like movie theatres, rec centres and restaurants everywhere in those early years, particularly in the ever expanding suburbs, and Thorncliffe and Greenview were the suburbs of Calgary in the ’60s. This is part of the reason that community associations exist at all –the City conditionally gave land to volunteer boards to create gathering spaces– and also why many now sit underutilized and even unknown to residents. Some have even been returned to the City due to underuse.
Now it seems that we’re spoiled for choice of activities to do on the weekend. Private enterprise took over much of that community activity and entertainment market, and now instead of contributing to it, most people are trying to make enough money to get out and enjoy it.
In Thorncliffe Greenview, groups of volunteers painstakingly compiled information and put the newsletter together every month for many decades. In fact, a printing press was used in The Horizon Room (so named for the now defunct community newsletter, The Horizon) to print and assemble the newsletters and local kids were paid to deliver the newsletters. Talk about supporting local, right?
The decline of the community newsletter has run its course in many communities across the country, and much of the local announcements made migrated to various online outlets. The upheavals in family dynamics and demographics over the decades seems to have played a direct role in our neighbourhood. The family structure shifted when “stay-at-home moms” joined the work force and although the double-income household gave way to a bustling economy, the changes also meant that folks had less time to spend on projects, clubs, programs and community initiatives, like the community newsletter. Of course, this is just one of the many moving parts that has affected community building in our neighbourhoods over the decades.
From Volunteer Driven to Profit Driven
In the late ‘80s/early ‘90s companies popped up in Calgary that seized an opportunity to take the publishing responsibility off the shoulders of the community associations and their diminishing volunteer bases while making a profit and providing an essential service to community members. For a time, there were many of these publishing companies in the city, and community associations and their publishers enjoyed a thriving partnership, but with the gradual movement of the world’s information online and increases in the cost of paper and delivery, the hardcopy newsletter has become expensive and difficult to provide for many communities.
End of An Era
In March 2020, the publisher that the TGCA had a partnership with, Great News Media, informed the CA that unless deliver costs were covered by the TGCA, they would no longer accept our content to publish and deliver to the community. The TGCA had never paid fees to have the newsletter published and delivered to the community, and although this service was incredibly important to the CA and its residents, we had to make the unfortunate decision to discontinue the publication. This was the same month that our facility was mandated to close due to the first round of COVID-19 restrictions and we had no way to justify the new and very significant expense while considering what the pandemic might have in store for the CA, the community and the world.
The Horizon Archives
The TGCA has an archive of The Horizon from 1969 – 2020 and in the pages you’ll find the culmination of how this community was founded and maintained by thousands of local people pitching in, supporting one another and have a great time too. There are notices about tournaments and pictures of the winners smiling proudly; and action shots of children on field trips at Heritage Park and even Disney Land. Ads were collected and published for local businesses, some are still mainstays in the area, like Amandine Bakery and Tuxedo Sports. In many of the monochrome, pastel pages are notices of dances, parades, celebrations and obituaries; all the familiar goings on of community and each issue a small time capsule in itself.
Over the years members have gone through their closets, crawlspaces and garages and brought us their newsletter collections because they just didn’t know what else to with them. In the margins there are notes about doctors’ appointments and doodles, reminders about invites and phone numbers scrawled in haste. The fact that so many members collected their newsletters and just couldn’t throw them out is an indication of how important these little booklets were to community residents in a time now gone by.
Get Your TGCA E-Newsletter Every Friday
Many residents don’t realize that newsletter that you get intermittently in your mailbox has no affiliation with the TGCA. It’s just a flyer now and that’s why there’s no content from the TGCA in it.
If you’re wondering about upcoming events and programs, TGCA announcements, news from The 56, updates about hours, volunteer opportunities, blog posts like this one, announcements from the City, our community partners, and other non-profits offering programs and events relevant to the members and residents that we serve, there are a number of ways to stay informed:
- Bookmark our community news page and check in to see what’s new. The page is updated regularly.
- Subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter. It’s delivered to your inbox every Friday.
- Follow us on social media. We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
As always, if you have any questions or comments about this blog or anything else TGCA related, please contact me at email@example.com.