Our small town has always relied on word-of-mouth and, occassionally, the listserv to spread and share information. If you're relying on word-of-mouth, however, the information you're hearing could be less than accurate (we're all familiar with the game telephone). If you don't read every listserv post every day, you could miss something important. Even the listserv has selective content – not every announcement or important story finds itself there – and important information is mixed in with discussions on, for example, a stray cat.
Big stories ("another Town Manager?") are covered by the Journal Opinion or the Valley News, if you have a subscription, but even those articles can miss important details. They pull out the highlights and often overlook the little things that make our town unique. They skip over nuance, limited by their own word count and broad coverage area.
There are a lot of “little stories” that don’t get covered by traditional news outlets, but those stories are still important. The stories already exist – they're usually shared as side notes as you pass your neighbor at recycling or run into an old friend outside the Village Store, or they find themselves posed as questions on Facebook.
Sidenote is another way to make information available and to address an ever-present need for transparency. It's specifically for Thetford.
It is not clear how Sidenote will evolve over time, but for now we would like to welcome you. We hope to share little stories about Thetford that – to you – could be very important, such as power lines being buried on Academy Road. We also want to provide important information in one easy-to-find place, such as walkable roads, trails, and quests in Thetford. Also, we want to take a closer look at topics that either touch on the edges of our curiosity or take a deep dive into our community, whether its the shrews in your chickens’ trough or how the Town has been approaching operations at Treasure Island over the past year.
Our content will come from local sources. If you have a question you'd like answered or a story you'd like covered, please let us know. And of course, thanks for being here with us!
Conflicts of Interest
Two of our contributing writers, Nick Clark and Li Shen, both serve as elected officials on the Thetford Selectboard. Their positions give them frequent exposure to important information that often can and should be avilable to the public as well, but it can also pose a potential conflict of interest.
For example, is an article by an elected official sharing information, or advocating for a position? Even the selection of what articles are or are not published can represent a bias. While all of us have bias, we want to acknowledge upfront that some of us could have, at times, certain conflicts of interest.
We will do everything we can to limit personal bias in the content we share on Sidenote – for example, by prohibiting writers from reporting on themselves, by requiring at least two people review articles before they're published, and by being upfront at the beginning of each article if any of the contributing writers are involved in the topics covered.
All our content is free to access. We do not see Sidenote as a transactional service, but rather one that builds community. We are working to develop our platform, but for now, you can Subscribe (in the upper right corner) either for free, or for $2/mo (or $20/year). Use this feature if you would like to receive email updates about published content. A paid subscription is entirely optional, but it is a great way to support Sidenote.
All funds we receive will be used to cover operating costs and to maintain and improve Sidenote as the platform evolves. We are greatful for all support given!