The street in front of my childhood home sloped at an angle that felt like an Olympic ski jump. Of course, I was a child, and things always seem a bit bigger and taller and more dangerous when you have the perspective of a 6-year-old.
I learned to ride a bike on that hill, and no matter how gradual the grade, I left plenty of knee skin on the hot, asphalt runway.
Remember the feeling when you lost control of your bike riding down a steep slope? The handlebars shook. You took your feet off the pedals, grazing ground with the tips of your shoes, hope against hope that you’d find your balance. Eventually, your core and your will gave way to resignation. You bailed.
When that happened, most of us scratched ourselves off the ground, wiped the pebbles from the pink, bloodied strawberry on our leg, grabbed that bike and pushed it back up the hill.
These are odd times in which we live today. Forget the politics. Forget the cultural shifts. Forget artificial intelligence. Forget it all.
Today, right now, we’re living in a perpetual state of uncertainty. We fall asleep to anxiety; we awake to unease. We’re holding onto shaking handlebars, trying to slow the doubt with the tips of our shoes.
And by the time this week’s edition of The Leader is delivered, be it to your driveway, inbox or phone, it’s likely the handlebars will shake more, the news will get worse, and our anxiety levels will increase.
Because of this ever-changing cycle of news, it’s difficult publishing a weekly newspaper, designed to capture the best of what happened and the enterprise of what comes next.
For more than 65 years, The Leader has served to tie a bow around our wonderful community, celebrating our best and challenging our worst. We’ve sought to remain relevant in the face of newspaper headwinds, and the wonderful people in our office have worked wonders to provide a leading, local source of information that can be discovered throughout our changing landscape of media.
Even still, we’re not immune to the uncertainty of today. Our business partners – the ones who use our medium to market locally – are also the reason we’re able to print and deliver a free newspaper to 30,000 homes in this area of Houston. But those businesses, our partners, face the same uncertainty we face today.
Many of our local businesses may not survive the economic devastation of this thing we call the coronavirus. Many stores will close their doors, because they can’t pay the rent if no one pays for their service. And as we face the ever-real potential of shutting down this city (as San Francisco had done and New York had considered as of press time), the impact of stopping the spread of this virus very well could put a pause, if not shutter, some of the beloved local shops in our part of Houston.
This week, we’re able to deliver an edition of The Leader to your doorstep, and my purpose of taking front-page space today is because we’re only certain of what will happen this week.
Next week, we may be told we can’t leave our homes. Or maybe that happens the next week. Or maybe it doesn’t happen at all. But as times get tough, and we all have to find a way to sort through a drastic change in lifestyle and economy, we at The Leader are intent on holding on to the handlebars for dear life.
There’s a very good chance, in the days and weeks ahead, that we may have to turn to our digital product to provide local news and information to our readers. While we hope that stint is short, if even at all, we want to remain part of your lives, and we want to remain relevant to the conversation.
It would be much easier if I could use this space to tell you definitive plans about The Leader over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, I can’t. What I can do is tell you how we plan to handle any sort of drastic alteration to the way we move about this city.
Beginning late this week, we’re going to begin sending emails to as many people as we can find in the Heights, Oak Forest, Garden Oaks and the neighborhoods of North Houston, and we’re going to ask you to consider signing up for our newsletter.
For a short amount of time, that may be the best way to send news to many of you. For that matter, there will be some who wouldn’t mind their news delivered that way all the time.
If you don’t want to wait for the email, and you want to sign up to receive a more constant source of news from us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re working on a plan to send you daily updates about our community, and though we’ll wait for further guidance on how and when we deliver a printed newspaper, we have no intent of bailing from this bicycle, never to ride again. We’re going to get up, wipe away the pebbles, and push ourselves back up the hill.
And we want you along for the ride.