Cheers 4 Lethbridge: The excitement of citizen-driven initiatives

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    A love of Lethbridge, along with an energized passion for magazines and stories, and a commitment to community is evident the moment you begin talking to Jenn Schmidt-Rempel.

    When she speaks about life in our city, local talent, and local business support, the excitement is catching: “My favourite stories are about citizen-driven initiatives: the group that lobbied for more elm scale injections this past summer, the Feed the Need initiative, 100 Women/Men Who Care, Environment Lethbridge, Lethbridge BMX, Youth One, and community kitchens. These groups and individuals are doing things in and around our community to make Lethbridge a better place because they want to and because they can. We have so many exciting and interesting people and groups to profile here.”

    The Publisher and Editor of Lethbridge living magazine since 2007, Jenn says she’s excited that after 20+ years in the community, “Readers and advertisers are still inviting us into their homes and businesses. We are all local – so everything we do is about local people, places, and events. The staff we employ is all local – writers, photographers, illustrators, and delivery personnel. We know from national print media studies that people enjoy hyper-regionalized publications because they speak directly to them and connect them to their community.”

    Jenn has been involved with many community organizations, and says an increase in festivals and events in the city in the last few years is “a testament to citizen and group community engagement. It’s exciting that individuals in our city want to share all the great things they have going on with other people in our community.” She volunteers her time as President of the Allied Arts Council of Lethbridge: “In Lethbridge, we are very lucky to have such a dynamic, vibrant, and supportive arts community. We’re home to several internationally known artists and arts facilities, and the new Casa building is a facility that is unique to all of Canada.”

    In response to the question “is print media dying?” Jenn says, “Our online magazine presence has been successful, but doesn’t have the same demand as the print publication. Over the past 10 years, Lethbridge living hasn’t seen a decrease in print readership, and five years ago we had to increase our print run. Our print publication alone reaches over 90,000 readers per issue in the Southern Alberta area, and while our online readership doesn’t come close to matching that, interaction and readership on our website is steady.” A print aficionado herself, Jenn says magazines offer the best of both print and digital worlds: “People look to magazines for a different relationship, not just headlines and fast updates, and expect longer stories…but we’re also able to offer those quick hits online. Magazine publishers have adapted well to being able to offer readers both online and offline relationships because of the expectations the reader has for each. Also, magazine publishers were some of the first to adopt online as a content delivery method, so being on the forefront of that has helped us understand and build those expectations.”

    Born in Moose Jaw, and raised in Claresholm, Jenn completed an undergrad degree at the University of Lethbridge, and graduate degree course requirements in Regina, and returned to make Lethbridge home: “Lethbridge is a wonderful place to engage in city-wide initiatives and build collaborative relationships,” she says. In reference to the city’s population growth inching towards 100k, Jenn responds, “We need to be prepared to embrace our growth and development, because if you’re not growing you’re dying. So, the questions are: what are residents going to do to help our city through the transition, and what does the City need to do in terms of operations to work with those living here?”

    Thoughts about the Cheers 4 Lethbridge initiative? “I like that it gives citizens an opportunity to celebrate the things that they’re doing to make our city a better place – that it is a showcase of the great things that are going on that people living here may not otherwise be aware of.”

    To learn more about Cheers 4 Lethbridge, visit cheers4lethbridge.ca, or check out this article from Lethbridge living’s May/June Issue!

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