Throughout history, communities have relied on news carriers who ran from town to town carrying verbal announcements. Villagers relied on the appearance of such “town criers” to provide warnings and updates. Today, we get our news by browsing through hundreds of online sources or media stations. As print newspapers decline in popularity, we nevertheless remain interested in stories about our communities and the people who comprise them. 

What does it take to keep our local news interesting? According to Hal Gray, self-professed “news junkieand community journalist, it takes curiosity and a penchant for continuous learning.

Hal grew up in a family that valued public service and academic pursuits. His parents were educators and social activists. It wasn’t unusual for Hal to find his house full of people engaging in lively conversations over meals. Throughout his life, he has pursued learning, questioning, and finding stories and images that capture peoples’ attention. His career as a federal civil servant to foreign aid programs provided many rewarding opportunities to ask questions and deepen his curiosity.

If you scan the pages of one of our local papers, The Hardwick Gazette, you are likely to find Hal’s stories about Greensboro and beyond. Stories about people doing good, contributing to their towns, sharing meals, and finding opportunities to have fun. Many of these stories and photos are included in this newsletter. 

Check out some of Hal’s photos and stories here and read one of Hal’s latest articles (posted below) that conveys community journalism at its best. Watch for Hal wherever there is something of interest happening – he’ll be there, following his curiosity. 

Easter Bunny Visits Smith Store

 April 13, 2022  The Hardwick Gazette 

by Hal Gray – Community Journalist

Jen Thompson of Smith Store
with the Easter Bunny
in Greensboro Bend.
courtesy photo

GREENSBORO BEND – The Easter Bunny beat the rain Saturday, April 9, as 60 excited youngsters hunted for 1,800 plastic Easter eggs filled with toys, stickers and candy at Greensboro Bend’s Smith Store.

Some eggs were more visible than others as one-year-olds on up descended from Greensboro, Stannard, Walden and Hardwick to the lawn behind the store. Jayden Lanphere dressed as the bunny in a costume donated by a store customer. Store co-owner Jen Thompson ensured no child left without something from the hunt. She related how the hunt was not created to be financially successful, but was for the youngsters who she described as the future of the Bend and who get bored if they don’t have something to do.

A group of people playing football

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Youngsters look for eggs during the Easter egg hunt in Greensboro Bend.
courtesy photo

Store owners Jen and husband Landon Thompson took over the store in 2019 from Landon’s parents. The Thompsons are seeking to involve the store and the Bend more in the wider community. Too often, they feel, the Bend gets forgotten, and they are seeking to reverse this. Jen Thompson noted their involvement this past year in the Lamoille Area Cancer Network of Morrisville. The Thompsons coordinated the funding to local families experiencing cancer.

Customer Dianne T. illustrated the store’s care for the community when it gave out turkey dinners at Thanksgiving, including one recipient for whom this was only the second Thanksgiving turkey dinner in 19 years. Chuck H., another customer, noted that the store is very responsive to the business community in ordering needed items.

Jen Thompson emphasized the pair’s commitment to the area by noting that during the Covid-19 pandemic the store made deliveries of supplies to families in the nearest five towns. This summer, the store is planning to sponsor “walk-in” movie-nights at which people sit on blankets on the lawn to watch popular films. Summer plans also include a creemee/ice cream stand operated by local teenagers. Jen Thomnpson describes the store’s philosophy as “that’s our community.”