Community News; In Your Inbox Not Your Mailbox

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 been one of the quintessential bolts in the community mechanism, putting out information and bringing people together. Simple right? Well, getting information out to the community has always been essential for CAs but how it’s collected and gets to you (if it does) has changed a lot over the years.

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 at the CA (community association) that month other than word of mouth and billboards. In many parts of the city, the local community association was a hive of activity and in comparison to now, the availability of amenities like movie theatres, rec centres and restaurants was sparse. This is part of the reason that CAs exist at all and that many now sit underutilized and even unknown to residents. We’re spoiled for choice and overwhelmed with activities to do each weekend. I often exhaust myself just reading about the upcoming weekend’s events!

In Thorncliffe Greenview, groups of volunteers painstakingly put the information-and the newsletter itself-together for many years. 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 too. Talk about supporting local.

This is a common tale to many communities across the country but family dynamics and demographics have changed over the decades. Stay at home moms became women in the work force and double income household perhaps gave way to a more bustling economy but also meant that folks had less time to spend on projects, clubs, programs and community initiatives like the newsletter. Of course, this is just one factor that has affected community building in our neighbourhoods.

The TGCA has an archive of The Horizon from 1969 – 2020 and in it you’ll find notices about tournaments and pictures of the winners smiling proudly. There are action shots of children on field trips at Heritage Park and even Disney Land and ads for local businesses, some which are still in the area and selling their wares – 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 a small time capsule.

Over the years members have gone through their closets 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 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 the community’s residents.

In the late ‘80s/early ‘90s companies popped up in Calgary that saw an opportunity to take the publishing responsibility off the shoulders of the community associations and their diminishing volunteer bases and make a profit publishing the community cogs while providing an essential service to community members, and simultaneously lending them some credibility in the communities that they served. For a time, there were many of these companies in the city and community associations and their publishers enjoyed a thriving partnership, but with the migration 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.

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 CA, they would no longer accept our content to publish and deliver to the community. The TGCA had paid no 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 and we had no way to justify the new expense while considering what the pandemic might have in store for the CA, the community and the world.

So, that newsletter that you get intermittently in your mailbox has no affiliation with the TGCA anymore. It’s just a flyer and that’s why there’s no local community news in it.

If you’re wondering about upcoming events and programs, TGCA announcements, news from The 56, updates about hours, volunteer opportunities, blog posts and 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 find out:

As always, if you have any questions or comments about this blog or anything else TGCA related, please contact me at v.gillard@tgcacalgary.com.  

Vanessa Gillard

Programming and community engagement coordinator at the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association. Spouse Adam Grayton

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