Life has been full. I've spent some time regrouping, making plans, and trying to forge a path for Wis.Community for 2020. As some of you know, it has been a trying year at Cruiskeen Farm. My partner and wife Lorelei died in August. Our doggie Shadow left shortly before that. As a result, I'm learning to manage the farm here, which I've blissfully left to Lori while we have lived here. I've also taken some time out to get used to living alone. 

More recently as I am working my way out of this, I've been busy. I recently returned from a visit with the Google folks at their Chicago Headquarters while attending the Google  News Initiative Local conference. This was a great experience and taught me a lot. Unlike the LION conferences and some others, it was an opportunity to rub shoulders with people from publications of all sizes, which provided new perspectives. Look for some learned lessons to show up here - particularly a newly-renewed interest in data journalism. 

I have some plans for changes here in 2020. I'm doing a complete site rebuild, which will involve some reorganization and a huge change in appearance. The current site is built on a very complex platform which is a result of having much bigger ambitions when starting out. The current site is built on a very big distribution of Drupal called Open Atrium. The new site will be upgraded to Drupal 8, will be considerably faster, and will fit the current needs of the site as primarily a news platform. You'll see some of the little-used features disappear, and will see a much slicker presentation. This will likely happen sometime in the spring - it's a big project.

In the meantime, there are a few other irons in the fire. Look for more coverage of local meetings and events, including some live streaming when possible. There will be a podcast associated with the site starting in January called "So - That Happened". Things should start ramping up in a lot of ways after Jan. 1, 2020. 

Also - we're starting another film series. Look for an environmental film series in conjunction with some other groups in the valley, starting in February.

Lastly - look for a series of community meetings where we'll try to explore with all of you what your needs are in a local news site. I hope in the process I can persuade some of you to pitch in with your own ideas. There will also be booths at a few upcoming community events, starting with the Red Cedar Watershed Conference.

But all of this will cost money and require upping the staff at Wis.Community. You can help by becoming a member. If we don't have more members, the site will remain financially unsustainable. You can help to grow this local journalism project by taking a membership.

We will also be looking for local sponsors both for the site and the podcast. If you have an interest in supporting us with a sponsorship for your business or nonprofit - drop us a note.

For all of you celebrating a holiday at the moment - I hope you are having a great one. And we'll welcome you here in 2020.

Support local news with a membership!

Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Consortium, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley

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