Introducing: Radio Free New England

George Bailey attempted suicide before realizing how important he was to Bedford Falls. His friends descended upon him in his time of need, enlarging everyone and swelling our eyes with tears in the process. Likewise, community leaders, innovators and activists all over New England, often labor without recognition. These catalysts deserve our attention. As a region, we have much to gain by hearing their struggles and successes. Each story offers a glimpse of what could be – whether non-profit, small business, or active citizen.

Often, the news today forgets about these people. Broadcasters scurry after the most heinous crime, the bleakest economic data or the shrillest political flash-in-the-pan. The often-stated, rarely-practiced truth is that our news coverage has lost something in the past thirty years: the effect events have on people. Behind the crimes, data, and issues are dreams realized, lives destroyed, sighs of relief and courses changed. Other people – daring people, saintly people, sinister people, caring people – have the greatest effect on you and I, and their stories are worth sharing. The results of their efforts – the impact they make on their communities, the recollections of lives they’ve touched – that’s news, too.

Good news gives us a chance to step back and look at what’s working in our communities. If we honor the creators among us, we may flourish ourselves, breaking out on our own, forming a hobby or business, adding richness to our lives and communities.

New England has a rich history of innovation and civic contribution. Franklin, Adams, revolutions political and industrial, Kennedy, town meetings, country fairs, the Big E, the Boston Pops, and the many colleges and universities in our region distinguished us in our past.

Today, New England boasts local farms, green living, cultural hubs, festivals, community pride and ideas that work – all within a few hours’ drive or train ride. Portland delights food lovers and is a young-person’s urban paradise by the sea. Then, there’s Boston, New England’s cultural and intellectual capitol. From its wide range of universities to its sports teams and music venues, Boston has it all.

New Englanders looking for a more natural paradise can partake in the Berkshire Valley, or the Quiet Corner of Connecticut, home of a dairy co-op called the Farmers’ Cow, or the many picturesque locations in Vermont and New Hampshire that almost cry out to hikers, skiers, boaters and naturalists to experience its magic.

Above all, New England thrives on its thinkers and doers. This series highlights the people who add variety, color and ingenuity to our region. The people whose lives call on us to step outside ourselves and go beyond: to forget the passing of time either reveling in their creation or in trying to develop our own.

We owe it to ourselves to seek out and savor these resources. Then, add to them one person, one community, at a time. I’d be happy to hear your suggestions of people, places or organizations making a difference or making New England life special. Please email me at radiofreenewengland@gmail.com or visit my blog at radiofreenewengland.wordpress.com.

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