My wrap-up of 2007 took to long to assemble, and that was when I was writing Lakeland Local by myself. So, this year we’re going to take the easy road. I asked each contributor to send me the link to their favorite post of 2008.
Since everyone has only been with Lakeland Local for part of the year, I didn’t limit their choice to work they’ve written here.
townsend [at] lakelandlocal.com
Billy Townsend joined Lakeland Local after a career at the Ledger and the Tampa Tribune. Townsend’s work on the CSX story earned him a co-award for best print journalist from Creative Loafing. Townsend joined Lakeland Local with a sharp departure from his print style and he hasn’t throttled back since. His favorite article started a lot of conversations in Lakeland: Demand Honesty. Love Your Neighbors And Friends. Vote No On 2.
I challenge the Lake Morton homeowner or Jay Dennis or anyone else who would vote for this amendment in the comfort of the anonymous voting booth to tell my friends to their face in their front yard that their love and commitment is a threat to someone else’s marriage. Spit on their edging. Drop trash on their flowers. Vandalize their home. That’s what you are doing with this amendment. It’s an act of moral vandalism. Supporters of this amendment want me to declare that my friends’ undeclared marriage is an abomination. That my wife and I help society, while my friends harm it. No damn way.
Cat Carter wrote for YLakeland before joining Lakeland Local. Her favorite post of the year was one from that young professional oriented site: Efficiency = Chick-fil-A Drive Through:
As much as I love the food I found out that about 800 other people also love and were craving Chick-fil-A at the exact same time I was. The dilemma…drive through (10 cars) or inside (1,000 little kids?) We decided drive through and that is where I began probably one of the most efficient experiences of my life.
Videographer extraordinaire Darby Critendon first published on her DarbySea site. Her favorite post, Pictures Speak A Thousand Words, concerned the time she had a unwelcome guest at her apartment complex:
An alligator greeted me on my way to work. He better be gone when I get home (make sure to count the legs*). If you ever have a nuisance alligator there is hot line set up to report them so the gator can be picked up- 1-866-392-4286 (866-FWC-Gator). According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Nuisance Alligators page the Commission received more than 21,000 complaints in 2006.
The older I get, the more I appreciate my upbringing and the simple life to which I was exposed growing up. Family means everything to me. And although my extended family no longer is the tight-knit group I grew up with, I enjoy remembering the times as a child when it was that tight-knit group that I so long for today. As sappy as it sounds, this silly little story about spearmint is one of many events in my life that shaped me.
hagerty [at] lakelandlocal.com
Tom Hagerty’s photographs of Lakeland life and locals are very popular with readers, but Tom chose to showcase his photo essay The Lakeland Highlands Scrub
Want to get far from the crowd without going far from Lakeland? Visit the Lakeland Highlands Scrub. One recent morning I hiked for more than an hour and saw only two other people. I did, however, see birds, butterflies, saw palmetto, longleaf and slash pines, live oaks, wiregrass and goldenrod.
Using my prerogative as the writer of this little piece, I won’t pick a favorite post for 2008. Instead, I’ll mention the Lakeland Local features I most enjoy — maps. I created the Lakeland crime maps last year and continued making them for 2007 and 2008. I was happy to teach LPD the art, and later help get Spotcrime together with LPD to save the department the time and trouble of map making. For a new challenge, I worked with Realtor Petra Norris to create the weekly Lakeland Home Sales Real Estate maps — which now include Google Street Views where possible. I look forward to the Ledger also stepping up to take those over at some point. There are numerous other maps on Lakeland Local. One goal in 2009 is to make it easier to find them when needed.
As main stream media struggles to find a new business model, 2008 was a year where we found how well independent citizen reporting can help fill in the slack. Here at Lakeland Local I trust we will continue to publish breaking stories, important articles, and insightful commentary throughout 2009.
And maybe even a surprise or two.