WELCOME to the Observer Online!

Here we go!

I would begin by saying “Welcome back!”, but perhaps "Welcome!" is more appropriate since we’re all newcomers here; so welcome to the inaugural edition of what, for the last several months, we’ve lovingly referred to as “Observer 2.0”. It’s not your father’s newspaper, that’s for sure.

We’re not sure how to classify it since it’s an entirely new venture for us. What you see before you is the result of many months of anxiety, careful planning, endless email exchanges, passionate disagreements, laborious late night working sessions, more email exchanges, gallons of coffee and maybe an adult beverage or two. And this is just the beginning. The Munjoy Hill Observer Online is a work in progress, destined to improve, to be fine-tuned and to prove our theory that community news is a community effort and not an undertaking solely by, or for, a select few. This is your Munjoy Hill Observer, YOUR newspaper; not recreated, but invigorated, renewed and recommitted. Thank you for being so patient as we worked to make it this far. We hope we haven’t let you down.

We wanted to keep the Observer’s long tradition going, but we recognized the need to change.

The creation of the Observer newspaper came during the time when physical publishing was still king. Newspapers themselves weren’t uncommon, but community newspapers, particularly those published by neighborhood associations was definitely a fresh idea. It’s in that spirit that we decided to take this risky, untested and bold step forward. If the Observer is to succeed, it will do so on the shoulders of those friends and neighbors who came before us to create something special, unique and informative for our own community.

There are many websites to provide news from around the world, across the country and throughout the state of Maine, but what of the news, the issues and the people right here at home? We wanted to keep the Observer’s long tradition going, but we recognized the need to change. That change, as we stated last autumn, came as much out of a need to evolve as it did from our financial bottom line. We believe this is a solution that keeps everyone in mind while solving the overwhelming challenges a physical, monthly newspaper present.

If you’ll indulge me a little, I’d like to thank and make note of some of the good people who’ve made this possible: Cecilia Ziko is a dear friend and member of the MHNO and the creative mind who developed our spectacular logo. She, along with her husband and former MHNO Board member and Vice President Sean Turley have lead the efforts on the look and feel of the new Observer.

Ned Chester is more than a community icon; he’s also a founding member of the MHNO and one of the few who began the Observer all those years ago. As we struggled to figure out how to keep the Observer with so little money to do so, it was Ned who steadied and guided us. The one I hoped, most of all, not to disappoint. “Look, when we started, we did this for fun, not to be a burden!” Ned told us last fall. Ned is also a director of the Organization and spent countless hours working and advising on this new incarnation of his original creation.

Nick Johnson, a new MHNO board member, has lived on Munjoy Hill for several years and has reminded me what the spirit of neighbors, volunteering and selflessness is all about. Nick seemed to come out of nowhere last fall, volunteering his help with anything we needed it on. Little did we realize at the time that, not only is Nick a technology genius, he’s also a technical writer for Apple, Inc. and is the one behind the physical website you’re now reading: from helping to develop its overall look to writing content, Nick’s the one who spent most of those worrisome late nights rallying us all to make our deadline, reminding us of the impending launch date, taking photographs, researching history, (a LOT of research) and, though he may not like my mentioning so, helping us pay for it all. Nick is the neighbor every neighborhood should have at least a hundred of, but which most lack.

James Napoli, like so many of us, is still a little new to Munjoy Hill, but he’s been a force of nature in helping to lead this process. Jim is a retired journalist, a newspaperman who knows both the business of publishing and how to reach an audience. He’s agreed to help me by taking on the touchy, nerve-fraying job of serving as our editor.

Jim will review content, recommend needed changes and pushback on content when it doesn’t appear to be in the best interest of the paper or the organization. As the Observer continues to grow, so will Jim’s role with it. To have someone like him come along at this specific time is nothing short of a miracle, at least where the Observer is concerned. I hope you’ll be able to meet him eventually. A more interesting neighbor you’ll never meet.

Elise Loschiavo and Linda Bancroft are both members of the MHNO Board of Directors. Elise has been a driving force of the Organization for about three years now and has worked tirelessly leading our Communications Committee, the group of people who drive the overall messaging of the Organization as well as the re-launch and rebuild of the Observer.

Linda is new to the MHNO Board but is a true blue Hill girl. It isn’t just her heart that’s in MHNO and this online venture, it’s part of her DNA. Like Elise, Linda runs a successful, large and growing business, but she’s been involved in every step of the process since joining our board last June and we wouldn’t be here without either of them. There's also Doug Fillmore, Board member, our Organization's Treasurer, quiet advisor, late night worker, money manager and the guy who attempts to keep me out of trouble when my mouth gets in front of my brain, as it often does. There are of course more, but those are the first to come to mind and the ones I wanted to make sure you’re aware of.

Whether you’re new to this community or born and raised here, know that we want this website... to reflect you as much as it does us.

There is also you. Whether you’re new to this community or born and raised here, know that we want this website and any future physical publications it drives to reflect you as much as it does us. The look and feel may be something new to you, but at its heart remain the purposes of informing and engaging you. The Observer continues to be our way of reaching out to one another. It bridges property lines and tall fences. We want very much for this to be the ongoing, living record of this special, seaside community and we hope for it to capture the stories, the issues and people that make us a community.

From reporting the heated controversies to the common ground we find amongst ourselves, we hope we’ve found a way of keeping a special tradition alive, to honor those who kept it going before us and to continue bringing it to you, only faster, more dynamically and with a bit more color. We can’t wait to watch it grow and we’re thankful you’re here for the ride!