To print or not to print?
The final stages of the April issue of Ferntree Gully News were a race against time to get the paper out in the face of tightening pandemic restrictions. However our auspicing organisation, Mountain District Learning Centre, encouraged us to go ahead.
Gully News exists to strengthen community connections and these are never so important as in times of crisis. Indeed you could say that this crisis is what we have been preparing for since we launched the newspaper.
The April issue was dropped off at various pick-up sites in the shopping centres. Around half our team of 50 volunteers were able to complete their normal rounds, with comments such as, ‘I am happy to deliver my two rounds of Gully News, so feel free to drop off the 200 copies when available and I’ll deliver. It’s good exercise and I’m sure our readers
will appreciate the news and in particular, positive stories to boost community morale.’
Almost immediately, news stories and photos began to come in for the June issue, starting with the family and friends who decided to donate their Easter chocolates to the Sacred Heart Mission in St Kilda to go out with the food parcels.
Aware of the historic importance of a community newspaper at this time of pandemic, the MDLC Board then urged us to make the June issue a special record, highlighting the response of Gully community groups and individuals, and especially the ways we are helping each other.
So although the Cottage office closed and we could not meet as usual on Tuesdays, we joined the thousands around the world who have been working from home and finding new ways to stay connected. And here, in Gully News Number 65, is the result.
Gully News 65 : Connecting through food, connecting online
The outstanding contribution of Foothills Community Care, under the leadership of Steve Barrington, has to take centre stage. We join the many who say thank you.
Thanks also to Teresa Cannon for her perceptive article on Foothills Care, to Gemma Franks for the recipe for a comforting family meal, and don’t miss the Girl Guides’ recipes for S’mores biscuits.
As elsewhere, the pandemic lockdown has brought forth imaginative online talent from the Gully community. Read about the ingenuity of the schools and Mountain District Learning Centre, about the ‘gallery’ from the Arts Society and there’s a puff for a virtual train ride on Puffing Billy.
Meanwhile the CFA, Bridges, Knox Council and other essential services have adjusted to operating in lockdown and online. The websites of all these and other community organisations are worth a browse, especially considering most of their staff are working from home. Have a look too around our website, where manager Meg Hellyer is extending contacts to a Gully News Facebook site.
Compared to the rest of the world, Ferntree Gully, Victoria and Australia may, so far, have come off lightly in this pandemic. (At 22 May total cases of coronavirus in Victoria is 1593; total deaths 18.) But we have shared in the grief and fear of all the world.
We hope this account from a small community in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges will be something you want to keep, to refer to when people say, ‘Where were you in 2020?’
Thanks to our contributors and to the volunteer office team and the walkers, most of whom are once again dropping the newspaper in your letterbox.
Thanks to all the local businesses who are striving to keep open under extremely difficult circumstances and yet continue to place their advertisements with Ferntree Gully News. Please support them.