Building Community and Connecting with our Neighbors

Now, more than ever, is an important time for journalism: it is time to build up our communities and connect with those we might not otherwise – to learn from others’ experiences, listen to people’s stories, and share them throughout our circles.

Swarthmore students who experienced campus life before the pandemic are graduating. Traditions are disappearing, buildings on campus are (literally) changing; we are occupying new spaces, connecting in new ways, and actively shaping our campus culture – regardless of how passive daily life may seem.

As a result, The Phoenix has changed, too. During the pandemic, we halted printing and became more physically disconnected from campus. Since returning to campus, we picked up the pieces to try and bring back what we once had. We started printing again; this time, with a slightly different layout and editorial board. Our website interface changed (twice). We became a vehicle for connecting to pre-pandemic life at Swarthmore, as students scrounged to find ways to bring back deeply-held traditions. We reported on student life, highlighting those traditions that began changing, those that were being revived in their original form, and those that were disappearing completely, in order to begin rebuilding our campus community.

It is safe to say that these changes are not for the worse. The initial loss of some traditions and elements of pre-pandemic life were difficult for many who had experienced that life. Our active efforts to reconstruct campus life during the past two years has enabled us to appreciate the resources that we have; to connect with those around us, those that we see each day.

Some may call this “the new normal,” although this construction relies on a reference to the past and often connotes feelings of despair and loss. But there is nothing profoundly new about post-pandemic life. Yes, COVID-19 continues to impact parts of the world and certain communities in the U.S., but this has always been the case with countless other epidemics and viruses. Similarly, before the pandemic, we continually shaped our everyday lives and adapted to new situations. Our responses to COVID-19 and its effects may reflect our adaptation in a new way, but this adaptation is natural to humans. It has always been normal – the same normal that it always was before the pandemic.

The Phoenix is committed to serving our community, both on campus and outside of campus. In the past year, while simultaneously sharing the stories of our campus community, we have connected with those outside of it. We have reported on topics impacting Swarthmore residents and business owners, such as the controversial building of luxury condominiums in the Ville. We have spoken with local leaders at community-based events, such as last Fall’s DelCo Democrats election night watch party. Most recently, we expanded beyond our immediate community and shared the story of activists in Philadelphia’s Chinatown organizing against the proposed 76ers stadium.

We want to connect more with our local community and serve our neighbors both on and off campus. We want to hear your opinions – try submitting an opinion piece, responding to an article in a letter to the editor, or addressing a larger audience through an open letter. We want to read your thoughts – whether that be a review of a movie you’ve just watched, or a reflection on a piece of art you admired. Contributing to The Phoenix is about sharing ideas and engaging in dialogue about the things that shape our lives.

Last week, we began circulating our paper in various locations around the Ville – from the Swarthmore Inn to Hobbs Coffee. Pick up a paper if you see one and leave us a message at our email, (after two years being decommissioned, our email is up and running again). If you have any suggestions or tips, feel free to let us know on our anonymous feedback form. In addition, our weekly editorial board meetings are open to the public – they take place on Mondays at 7 p.m. in the Phoenix office on the fourth floor of Parrish Hall.

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