GTPulse: Traverse City Kids Start Local ‘Neighborhood News’

Residents of Traverse City’s Central Neighborhood have a new way to get weekly news, and it’s going to run the rest of us out of business. The Neighborhood News is a new weekly print paper and with a circulation of 80, is nothing to shrug at. 

Run by four elementary-aged Central neighborhood girls, the paper has been a bright spot in residents 2020. Sisters Annika and Maggie Anton teamed up with sisters Sayber and Emma Howerd to make Neighborhood News a community treat that all their neighbors look forward to.

“It started out as short news,” Maggie said. “Because we had to do it for school, where we had to interview somebody, so I thought it would be fun to do put it in a newspaper thing. Then Annika said we could put a box outside so people could come and take it.”

When schools closed their doors back in March, the girls found themselves with a lot of curiosity, energy, and time on their hands. Suddenly their neighborhood became the only terrain they could explore, and their time venturing through the sidewalk jungle between opened up a world of questions about neighbors, sounds, activities, and the little creatures contained within their neighborhood.

The first issue was released in April and was 7 pages long with stories and comics from Annika and Maggie. Friends and neighbors Sayber and  Emma loved receiving the papers so much that they wanted to contribute too.

“It makes it more fun to have more,” Annika said

“The more the merrier!” Sayber added

The paper now comes in at around 15 pages per issue and I’m only half-joking when I say that Neighborhood News is a full-fledged media operation. Each week the team sits down for a meeting with their ideas and a magnetic whiteboard. Four columns represent each editor and all topics are printed onto a small magnet. They discuss ideas and move magnets into each column as they sort through their thoughts on what they want the next issue to look like.

“If we don’t really know what to write about we will just draw something or look at something by our neighbors,” Emma said.

Topics vary each week, but standbys include weather, comics, and news articles. The Writer Of The Week rotates, and they get to choose all of the sections they want to cover. This week, it was Annika’s turn. She featured an ongoing column called Meet Your Neighbor, where she interviewed a neighbor named Brenda who has “four grandchildren that she adores” and whose favorite food is “cake and salad (yum!).” In another Meet Your Neighbor column she talked to a retired schoolteacher named Carol who used to make hollyhock dolls in the summer with her sister. In this week’s paper she also featured an article titled What’s That Sound In Central Neighborhood, where she addressed a noise that, upon further investigation, was Central High School’s drumline practice.

Each girl has her own fun with being Writer Of The Week. A few issues ago Sayber wrote a thoughtful column on the Titanic where she questioned why there were so few rescue lifeboats on the ship. She also writes an ongoing comic simply called Dog, where she follows the day to day adventures of a dog.

“The next Dog is going to be my third one. I always like to look at comics, and for this paper they’re my favorite thing to do,” Sayber said.

Maggie also contributes a weekly comic called Not That Super (But Still Helpful) where she saves the day in various different everyday, and not so everyday situations. When a creature or friend is in distress, Maggie swoops in to help with a little kindness and flair. She saves a Junebug from an oncoming stomp in one comic. In another, a falling castle is saved by her extend-o-arm. My favorite might be the person stuck inside of a burning house is saved by a big gust of breath to blow it out.

“In it, I have superpowers that might not seem very helpful, but then they actually are very helpful,” she said.

If entertainment is what you’re looking for, Emma has got you covered. She has a niche for providing hands-on, interactive activities that anyone in the neighborhood could enjoy. She regularly contributes a scavenger hunt experience where she provides a photo of a neighborhood object to be found and clues on how to find it. A stuffed animal tucked into a tiny tree door was by a Record-Eagle mailbox, a beautiful birdhouse could be seen on the 300 block of 10th on a white porch, somewhere near Pine there’s a green toy car swinging on a tree branch.

They also all contribute to other ongoing sections of the paper, like a community bulletin board where they post neighborhood happenings like garage sales and birthdays. They provide residents with researched articles on things like local wildlife, and where to go for some outdoor fun. An easy craft project is sometimes included, as well as a coloring page. Annika contributes a local weather report for the week with the highs and lows of the day, and sketchings of whether or not it will be sunny, cloudy or rainy.

A makeshift newspaper stand is outside in the neighborhood, but the girls provide a delivery service as well. All free of charge, and as long as it doesn’t interfere with homework, they’ll continue to stay in production.

Emily Ulbrich is Maggie and Annika’s mom and has had little interference with the production of the paper. Annika being the eldest runs the meetings and designates street captains for delivery routes. Emily is astonished and proud of the thought, organization, and care put into the paper.

“Part of the reason Annika wanted to do this was so neighbors would get to know each other – people were lonely during the shutdown and she said ‘It can bring people together.’  Maggie wanted to do it because it ‘makes people happy.’ It helped immensely that when they started this folks in Central Neighborhood would come out every night at 8 and ring bells and bang pots and pans – they would come down and get a paper and compliment the girls as they stood on our porch and ringing bells,” she said.

The bell-ringing may have stopped, but Neighborhood News is still bringing the community together one issue at a time. 


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Categories: GTPulse