52nd Street Citizen – Northeast Calgary’s Newsletter

The Cause

A collaborative effort among 7 communities in NE Calgary to create a hyper-local newsletter to better inform & engage NE residents by encouraging them to utilize programs & services available to them and by cultivating pride and appreciation for the rich cultural diversity we have surrounding us. The NE quadrant of Calgary is an area rich in cuisine, art, and culture. It’s time to stop neglecting these things and instead hold them up to be appreciated.

In Calgary, there are a small handful of businesses that specialize in providing newsletter services to neighborhoods around the city. The service is free to communities, the community associations provide the content and the printer handles production and recoups the cost through ad sales. At this time none of these businesses will work with any of the NE neighborhoods. Understandably, when the business model is printing a custom newsletter per neighborhood and recouping the cost via ad sales, print runs for older and smaller neighborhoods without many businesses within them can be a hard sell.

And so we find ourselves where we are now, with multiple NE communities trying to reach an incredibly diverse market and limited ways to do it. The primary methods are via social media and websites. Some also try to put out their own print newsletter, at a high cost to a small budget with little to no ROI. These community associations are non-profits and usually almost entirely volunteer-run; quite often by older & retired residents who are able to donate their time. While their efforts are greatly appreciated, they often find it difficult to engage & communicate with younger members in the community; be they youth, new immigrants, or of a different culture.

One thing that has always held true though; when you’re out and there’s a free newspaper or magazine, it will invariably get picked up & flipped through. So what happens if that magazine or newspaper is full of not only city info, but info specifically about your neighborhood and neighborhoods immediately surrounding yours - neighborhoods you likely often find yourself in?

Magic happens. Interest happens.

What happens when the articles that are contributed by neighbors & friends, when artwork and photography are contributed by them or by local students in art programs at the nearby high school? Pride happens.

Community pride is a great tool to engage residents and engaged residents are thoughtful, caring ones who often give back to their communities.

Who Will it Benefit?

The benefits of launching a project like this are multiple and layered. A hyper-local newsletter targeting not one, but multiple communities, has the benefit of being able to utilize economies of scale. By targeting a larger area, the local businesses who choose to support their community associations are able to do so by purchasing ad space that would perhaps not be as affordable an option in a city-wide newspaper but is for a hyper-local version. As the newsletter would be distributed through 7 different communities, the advertising reach of these local businesses would increase dramatically and for their immediate target markets in many cases.

The community associations benefit from increased awareness & participation in their programs, volunteer force, and membership. For volunteer-run organizations who often only charge a nominal fee for programs (if any at all), the programs offered are often a labor of love. Seeing more residents take part can be incredibly fulfilling. They would also benefit from increased revenue of hall rentals, as many residents are often surprisingly unaware of the options available to them where event rental space is concerned. The associations could also benefit from the increased collaboration between them, possibly leading to shared “roaming” programs like book clubs that could potentially cycle from one association to the next each month, making it easier for a wider resident pool to notice & participate.

Lastly, the residents benefit. Healthy communities begin with happy, engaged residents. With over 70,000 residents in just these 7 neighborhoods, it can be easy for people to focus only on their own neighborhood and ignore what surrounding communities have to offer. By making it easy for them to explore what the whole area has to offer while sitting at their doctor’s office or a restaurant, for example, they’re more likely to venture out and actually check out some of the events and programs being offered nearby. When residents actively begin engaging, the pride and care for their communities increases and those same communities that have been struggling to shrug off the identity of “NE Calgary” are able to begin thriving and embrace a new attitude and “NE Pride”.

Community Associations & residents directly benefit. Local businesses who advertise indirectly benefit from a very targeted distribution to their immediate customers, making any advertising investment both more affordable and with a possibly better ROI.