When I arrived in Valemount one year ago, I was incredibly naive. Start my own newspaper? What could I possibly have been thinking?

But the people here drew me in. I felt like I belonged here among people I knew, people who invited me in and were kind to me, despite knowing little about who I am.

That kindness has fuelled me this past year as we have worked gruelling hours to get a paper out each week. I’ve often questioned why I am here. Why am I doing this? What is the point? And then I bring to mind that view of the Valley I have in my mind’s eye and all the people in it who I love and who are kind. That’s when I make myself another cup of tea. Make myself a to-do list. Who do I call this week? Who do I reach out to? Whose story has never been told? These are some of the questions I ask myself each week.

I am committed to this newspaper because I feel committed to this community. I think the newspaper is one way to serve people here. I think, at its best, a newspaper builds community. It enlightens us on other people’s opinions that can build on our own and tells us about changes that affect our lives. These are essential aspects in any community. Newspapers are a place where we can call on public officials, a place we can learn about behind-the-scenes action, a place to see people’s hard work validated through stories or photos.

Like many people who come to the Valley, I see potential. We all see the amazing development that could take place. This is another reason I’m committed to the newspaper: I want to engage people in the ‘building up’ of Valemount, Dunster and McBride. To do this, we need good information and different ways to engage people in their community. A newspaper doesn’t do this for everyone, but it’s a place to start.

It’s emotional running your own business. I empathize with every business owner in town that is struggling. It’s not easy to continue. Somehow we do. Somehow we find the strength, believing in the good that can happen if we put in the work, put ourselves out there.

Every time I meet someone new, every time I get someone to smile for a photo, I feel a little spark that the ties in this community, which are already so strong, are strengthening even more.

What will we achieve together? Only time will tell.

I am so thankful for all the support I’ve received so far, including all the feedback about the newspaper, both good and bad. We cannot grow without good feedback, and I feel I have grown in a dozen ways. These are not things I could have got from a school. As a friend of mine used to say, ‘This is life tuition.’

So a year after starting this venture, I urge young people who want to do something for the community to throw themselves out there, do something other folk may say is “crazy” and learn, learn, learn. Give, give, give. The rewards will come in spades.