Abha Thakkar

Welcome, Oona!
I am thrilled to have my column bumped to page 4 because it means the Northside News is finally getting the attention it deserves with our new managing editor, Oona Mackesey-Green.

I became the Northside News managing editor back in 2001, and ever since then, even during my 6-year absence from the Northside, this newspaper has been a part of me — partly because the intensity and eventual catharsis of production week is not something anyone ever forgets. But also because it taught me the value of giving voice to a community. Oona is deeply committed to that work, as well.

Oona joins a strong, high functioning team at the Northside News, made up of Erika Spahn as our graphic designer, Rita Lord as our submissions manager, and Lauri Lee as our long-time and now outgoing ad sales manager. We also have a terrific group of volunteer writers that I have all but neglected since my work as NPC’s executive director took over my days. Oona will do a great job making the most of and expanding this team.

Oona is an outstanding writer and thinker, and her earnest commitment to racial equity has transformed my work, and, thus, NPC’s work in subtle but powerful ways. I’m excited to see what she does with the Northside News — both its online and print editions — as she makes it her own.

Stable Families, Strong Community
To the right of my column, you’ll see a job posting for Neighborhood Navigators, a new position created for Northside residents from historically underrepresented communities. These Navigators will play a critical role in a newly developing collaboration between several key stakeholders and Northside residents and organizations called, “Stable Families, Strong Community” (SFSC). You can read all about it on page one, “Helping families thrive on the Northside.”

This initiative represents a deep commitment to the health and vitality of our Northside families, and NPC is proud to be a partner and backbone organization in this work.

What does it mean to be a backbone organization? NPC will provide staffing support through my time, through Oona’s time — her other role with us is as NPC’s Collective Impact Coordinator — and through our Community Capacity-Building Team, which is open to Northside residents. That team is looking to reconvene a community council, made up of representatives from Northside neighborhoods, nonprofits, civic groups, businesses, schools and faith communities. This council will be staffed by NPC and can act as a representative body that plays an advisory role for SFSC, as well as take on its own projects.

Additionally, NPC will provide communications support through this newspaper, calendar, listservs and websites. We will provide collaborative technology tools, asset mapping, assistance with continuous evaluation and data collection, shared working spaces, fiscal agency, meeting facilitation, leadership training and act as a clearinghouse for reports and Northside demographic data. Finally, we’ll be employing and mentoring the Navigators, who will support the various component programs.

In my last column, I talked about getting to work. We are. Get in touch if you’d like to join us.