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Year In Review 2018

2018 was the first full calendar year that The Shoestring has existed. Over the last year, we’ve covered a lot of ground and wanted to point you, dear readers, in the direction of some of the pieces we put out there in 2018.

Organically Produced Local Austerity (Feb 27) – Co-editors Will and Blair went to hear from regional business owners about their plights. Herrell’s owner Judy Herrell described how her workers “abused” sick time during the 2017 solar eclipse as evidence of the policy’s failure.

David Narkewicz, Playwright (March 16) – In the  Spring, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz got in a Twitter tiff with The Shoestring after we published a piece about NPD’s capital request for riot gear. Bursting with creativity, Narkewicz wrote a five act play on the social media platform where he called us “bloggers” and accused us of being  “performance artists.” .

The Right to Bear Influence (March 19) – In collaboration with Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism (BINJ)  this piece covers how Gov. Baker appointed a gun lobbyist to run a state agency. In other collaborations with BINJ, we covered how public records law is shielding ICE from scrutiny, and most recently how even weapons dealers who break the law can still make bank selling to the police and other state agencies.

Mayor’s ‘Work Group’ Studies ‘Panhandling Issue’ In Secret (April 9) – A leaked report from the Mayor’s office revealed some of the inner workings of his secretive Work Group on Panhandling. We spoke to people who ask for money downtown about how they felt about the veiled group designed to suggest policy that could govern their lives.

Pa’lante RJ Conducts Student-led Research on the Role of Racism at Holyoke High School (July 12) – Research from the Holyoke youth group Pa’Lante revealed with incredible detail the embedded racism within their high school and their vision to “build youth power, center student voice, and organize for school discipline and educational policies and practices that actively dismantle the school to prison pipeline in Holyoke and beyond.”

If Pigs Could Fly (July 18) – In this piece, which exposed the NPD’s drone program, Chief Kasper gave false information to the nonprofit organization MuckRock, implying that the department didn’t own drones when she responded to their request. It turned out, an already purchased drone arrived from Amazon that same day. There was no public process for the drone program and our article is the first to report how these devices have been used at a protest.

Pride and Seek (July 31) – Co-editor Blair Gimma and regular contributor Mod Behrens did a deep dive on Northampton Pride which  followed the money to learn how a tradition that started as a revolt against police brutality of the queer community has become a Chamber of Commerce-sanctioned bonanza of international corporate sponsorship complete with very expensive police liaisons.

It Has to go Way Beyond the Decriminalization of Sex Work (August 13) – Holyoke organizer Caty Simon did a long form interview with Fey Marow about de-stigmatizing and decriminalizing sex-work in which she unapologetically declared, “The sexworkers’ rights movement needs to be a workers’ rights movement.”

Reading Between the “Thin Blue Lines” (September 18) – In this history of the “Thin Blue Line” pro-police flag that has been proliferating across Massachusetts, Brian Zayatz reveals that the flag has pretty racist origins. Origins which are maybe in conflict — or right in line — with the flag’s stated purpose.

One Year and Still No Answers (September 27) – There is still no justice for Jafet Robles, a prominent Springfield organizer whose assassination in 2017 has remained unsolved. Contributor Andrea Schmid reported on a march to commemorate one year passing since his death.

I Go To Northampton City Council Meetings – Check out one full year of Northampton City Council coverage thanks to co-editor Blair Gimma’s fearless commitment to attending every single meeting. (And we have begun to cover city politics in Holyoke as well thanks to our Holyoke correspondent David T.)

I Am a Transgender Nurse in Massachusetts Right Now (October 30) – Right before the election, in what was The Shoestring’s most widely circulated piece ever, a local transgender nurse offered a personal perspective about what Questions 1 and 3 meant for him.

We did all of this with practically no resources — on a shoestring budget, one might say. If you like the Shoestring and appreciate what we’re doing, we would love your support for 2019 in the form of a monthly donation between $1 and $10 per month. You can sign up here. We are nearly entirely reader supported and feel very lucky for all of the love we’ve already received (and also the hate).

In the form of more in-depth reporting, more columns, more community events, and more services and support for our writers, we have a lot planned for 2019. Thanks to all of you for making The Shoestring real.

<3 The editors <3

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