Dedicated, rural Coastside residents follow the news trail wherever it leads. They faithfully record their local agencies’ board meetings, retell the tales of homegrown legends and publish community calendars of upcoming events.
They do so with the help of scrappy volunteer-driven community publications run by editors who believe their publications provide news and information important to the quality of life in their communities.
“It serves a genuine purpose — which is not political,” Kings Mountain Echo Editor Eileen Fredrikson said. “(It) is very much driving attendance and interest in joining your friends for movie nights, or going to an author’s forum, or parcel tax forum or all those kinds of things.”
* News on the mountain
From a mimeographed information sheet, the Kings Mountain Echo has evolved over the years into a full-color, 20- to 24-page publication. Fredrikson took over the role about three years ago when her husband volunteered her for it. She now spends about 40 hours putting together each monthly edition.
“There’s always someone to pick up the slack as circumstances change in a person’s life, and it’s time to move on from putting out the Echo,” she said.
The earliest edition Fredrikson can find is from February 1971, but she suspects it started earlier.
The Echo has many things in common with a newspaper, including a photographer, beat reporter, community contributors and a monthly column. Marty Eisenberg writes “Marty’s Musings” every week and it’s a reader favorite, Fredrikson said. Other residents also submit stories as well.
Last month, Eisenberg wrote about the complicated way leap years are determined — since 2020 will feature an extra day in February — and his bout with pneumonia.
People rely on the Echo for news about the Kings Mountain Association, the elementary school’s activities, the fire brigade and upcoming neighborhood events.
“The (Kings Mountain Association) is kind of the social glue that brings everyone together,” Fredrikson said. “... I just check with everyone who heads all of these things, get the minutes and get a story. Interesting things are always happening.”
* News in the woods
The La Honda Voice started with a fundamental journalistic intent to hold the powerful accountable. Bob Dougherty moved to La Honda from San Francisco more than 20 years ago. For a while, he wasn’t happy with the Cuesta La Honda Guild Board of Directors.
“At that point, there wasn’t any newspaper in town,” Dougherty said. “I started the La Honda Voice kind of as a protest and information for what was going on in town.”
In a turn of events, Dougherty ended up getting elected to the board, noting his perspective changed during that time. The La Honda Voice was put on hold in the meantime, but when he left the board, he started the publication up again.
“It was a need, so I just figured I would fill it myself,” Dougherty said.
He still designs it on Microsoft Word, edits all the content, distributes it and writes many of the articles. Dougherty used to print it himself, but Puente de la Costa Sur started printing the 300 copies for him.
“I might be a little biased, but it is important,” Dougherty said. “There’s a lot of ways for information to get out. ... But I think it’s useful anyway for people to have a single place they can go to see what’s been happening and what’s coming up in the future.”
* News near the farmlands
Skinner is a familiar name to many on the South Coast. Bella Skinner represents the fifth generation of her family who has lived in the area. She’s now a fourth-year agricultural communications major at California Polytechnic State University and the editor of the South Coast’s newest monthly news outlet.
As part of her senior project, Bella Skinner had to come up with an idea that used the agriculture and communication elements of her degree. Her grandfather, Rob Skinner, shared an idea he’s had for a long time. It’s called the Pescadero Fish Wrap, and it was everything Bella Skinner had been learning about at college.
“I brought the idea up to my senior project (adviser) who oversees everything, and she absolutely loved it,” she said. “She goes, ‘I’m sorry but you have to do this. You have no other option.’”
With the help of her grandfather, Bella Skinner has been producing a monthly print and online publication for Pescadero, Loma Mar, San Gregorio, Butano and La Honda communities. She sells and designs ads and schedules interviews over the phone and in person when she’s back home for breaks. Each month, she makes sure there is at least one article related to agriculture.
“I love how involved the community is,” she said. “My main goal was to connect the community because it’s so important in an area with a whole bunch of small towns.”