History of the Glebe Sisters: Glebe Report

The not-so definitive History of the Glebe Report

BY JULIE HOULE CEZER

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The first issue of the Glebe Report, a 12-page edition, hit the streets of the Glebe on Friday, June 17, 1973, a mostly cloudy day with a high of 18 degrees. That week, according to CFRA music charts, Ottawa was swinging and singing to “Playground in My Mind” by Clint Holmes, “My Love” by Paul McCartney and “Daniel” by Elton John.

The challenges of the day captured in the headlines and stories of that first Glebe Report were serious matters for members of the community, who worked doggedly in the early 1970s to make this inner-city neighbourhood a better place to live. Many of the concerns of 1973 still resonate 40 years later –do any of these topics sound familiar? A story in that first edition concerned a Glebe traffic plan addressing the speed and volume of cut-through traffic on residential streets. Another headline addressed the perennial topic of parking. Still another article dealt with zoning and downzoning to place neighbourhood-friendly restraints on city and developer plans to build high-rise buildings along Queen Elizabeth Driveway and run arterial roads through the Glebe. One story identified an acute lack of recreational green space and parks for children, and the express need for community programming for all ages to optimize use of the repurposed church at Third Avenue and Lyon, that had been officially opened as the Glebe Community Centre (GCC) a few days earlier, on June 2, 1973.

Dialogue and action on all these issues required and elicited active citizen engagement at the grassroots level. Front and centre in the first edition of the Glebe Report was the need to name the challenges and throw down the gauntlet:

“Neighbourhood communities are being challenged more and more to decide their own futures, to choose which way they will grow. To do this effectively people must be informed. The Glebe Report will print and circulate information you need to make decisions about this unique and attractive community. But that information can only come from you.”

Following up with an appeal for letters, pictures, stories and reflections, the editor concluded with an apt phrase: “communication makes a community.” Indeed, communicating accurate information about the community, reporting on its emerging issues and providing a vehicle for dialogue among residents pretty well sum up what the Glebe Report is working to achieve all these years later. When the Glebe Report Association was incorporated, these aims were reflected in the letters patent of the organization. Stripped to the essentials, disseminating local information of interest to Glebe residents remains the core mandate of the Glebe Report, whatever medium is used.

Unlike other community papers that are integrated with neighbourhood community associations, the Glebe Report from its inception has been independent, paying all its costs from advertising dollars. Initially, it took shape around a dining room table, but by February 1977, it was the part-time occupant of an upstairs office in the GCC. By 1983, the paper had grown sufficiently to become incorporated as a not-for-profit association, with membership drawn from adults living or working in the Glebe. The association is overseen by an elected board of directors.

Over the years, publication of the paper has been entrusted to a production team that grew from just an editor, business/ad manager and willing neighbours in 1973, to a team that now includes an editor, copy editor, grapevine editor, layout designer, ad manager, circulation manager and business manager, along with a regular pool of volunteer proofreaders from the community. More recently, with the redesign of the website, a web editor has come on board in anticipation of staged development of the Glebe Report’s online presence.

The content of the paper has largely been the purview of its 31 editors, whose editorship has ranged from a single production cycle to a ten-year stint. In the early years, production members used cut-and-paste to put the paper together. In 2003, due to pending renovations, the team temporarily moved out of the GCC to the basement of 174 First Avenue, and undertook the leap to email for communication and submission of most text and photos. After the Glebe Report returned to the GCC in 2004, it acquired a website and never looked back. (Hardcopy artwork and text are still welcome, however.)

The Glebe Report circulation of 5,000 copies in 1973 has grown to 7,000 copies in 2013, all delivered by volunteer carriers. Steadily expanding from its original 12 pages, the paper took two decades to reach its current 36- to 44-page range. Throughout its 40 years of evolution, the majority of the paper’s content has been original stories that reflect the life and concerns of the Glebe, and that are written largely by Glebe-based contributors. The Glebe Report is truly the paper of record for this community.

Julie Houle Cezer is editor of the print edition of the Glebe Report.

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