Mar. 19—It has now been more than a year since the world changed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
I never thought that one year after I wrote about how suddenly the world changed in early March that we still would be fighting this nasty virus.
But we are.
And it looks like we are finally winning, with daily cases dropping and more and more people getting vaccinated.
But the casualties have been high. More than 200 million infected worldwide, and 2.5 million dead. Locally, we've seen more than 9,000 confirmed cases and 175 residents who are no longer with us.
Jobs were lost. Businesses were closed. Not to mention students who have missed out schooling and school-related milestones.
Another casualty was The Daily Star's community advisory board.
Two years ago we planned to offer regular open houses, where the public would be invited to our conference room to meet with our leadership team, say hi, complain, offer compliments, or provide some story ideas.
I unfortunately couldn't make it that day for the first meeting. I woke up sick as a dog, and had to bow out. And only about a half dozen or so people took us up on our offer.
Realizing the open house format may not be the way to go on a regular basis, we formed a community advisory board.
We gathered a group of a half-dozen or so residents to meet in our conference room about every two months to get their feedback on our newspaper and ask for their opinions and suggestions about our coverage.
The meetings lasted about an hour (sometimes longer). In them, the board members would tell us what they liked and what they didn't in regard to The Daily Star. Sometimes they'd compliment or pan our coverage. Other times they would suggest stories for us to pursue.
More importantly, the panel gave us insight into what was important to our community members.
After our February 2020 meeting, the gatherings stopped. Our next meeting was planned for April, but we couldn't invite everyone into a small room, and with everything else going on in the world, getting a group together, even virtually, was put on the back burner.
Well, a year later, it's time to get the band back together. We've invited our former members of the board to rejoin, and many are, but we also are looking for more people.
We want to hear from all sectors of our coverage area. You don't need to like us. You don't need to agree with our editorial views. In fact, we'd love to find people who will challenge us.
Just like our opinion pages, we don't want this board to be an echo chamber. What good is a meeting if everyone agrees on everything?
If you think you can add a new perspective, we want to hear from you. We want to expand the variety of voices on the board, and yours may be it.
Our meetings will initially be virtual. We hope that once we get COVID under control, we can begin meeting in person again.
But one thing COVID has taught us is that we don't have to do things the same way as we had before. If board members are out of town, or live quite a distance from our office, Zoom may be an option.
And maybe once COVID is beaten, we will again be able to open our conference room to the public.
If you show up to an in-person meeting, I promise, there will be snacks.
If you are interested in joining our board or just want to provide some feedback — positive or negative — contact me at the email or phone number below.
Denielle Cazzolla is editor of The Daily Star. She can be reached at 607-441-7259 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @DS_DenielleC on Twitter.