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What am I doing here? What are you doing here?
Today, I come to ask: Is this Based in Lafayette reporting project working for you? If so, here’s how you can help sustain it. Subscribe, and let's tell Lafayette stories together.
A bit of a programming note to start a new week with this reporting project …
First off, thanks to everyone here for signing up over the past month to get Based in Lafayette, Indiana, dispatches directly in your inbox.
Please, understand that I really appreciate that trust. That, and all the encouragement in recent days.
And thanks to those who read the posts and let me know their thoughts and questions – most of which ended with some version of: What’s a Substack? (If you’ve been here for a while, you’ve probably figured that out. If you’re new, just stick around. The newsletter format, direct to your inbox, will make some sense.)
Today, I come to ask: Is this working for you?
WHAT AM I DOING HERE?
Retired, they say, after 32 years of reporting and writing on just about everything at the Lafayette Journal & Courier, I started this Based in Lafayette reporting project a little more than a month ago.
Partly I did it to keep my chops up. And partly – or, really, on that morning in May – I wanted to know a bit more about the huge, fresh fleur-de-lis patterns at 10th and Main streets, painted yellow and faded beyond recognition twice since a community art project initially laid them down six years ago.
What I thought would be a simple story about street art – I mean, literally street art – turned into a conversation about the power and influence of Lafayette artist and community volunteer Linda Vanderkolk, who had partnered on the first concept and installation in 2015 and had died a week earlier. Turned out that as crews laid road-grade patterns in the intersection, the city was busy gathering a tribute to Vanderkolk, coming soon to that Upper Main intersection.
Great story – lovingly relayed by people who understood it was a great story to tell.
If you missed it, here it is: Fleur-de-lis intersection blooms again as Lafayette prepares artist tribute at 10th and Main.
Since then, I’ve spent the past few weeks building a prototype collection of long reads and short takes you can expect here. Breaking some news. Coverage of Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County government action that’s more than meat-and-potatoes. Changes coming for schools. Drama with public officials (hello, Wabash Township). Context behind decisions on a Purdue campus that’s growing nonstop. A look at cultural landmarks in Greater Lafayette and on campus. A Q&A or two with interesting people and how they shape this town. And just good stories, like the one about a retiring West Lafayette garbageman they call the legendary Big B.
What I have here won’t replace other media in town, I don’t expect. But there’s plenty of news, plenty of stories to tell, plenty of context to show. (There’s a reason my Twitter bio includes the immortal words of my man Pee-wee Herman: “It's like you're unraveling a big cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting ...”)
I hope I’ve shown I have the history, the context and the contacts to find those stories – ones you want to know — and tell them in a fair way. With luck, I’ll find the ones you didn’t know you wanted to know until, you know, you read it.
String them together, taken over the course of days, weeks and months, and you’ll see contours emerge in the landscape of Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and Purdue.
I hope you’ll want to read it all.
Which brings us to …
WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?
Well, I hope it’s for the stories and coverage mentioned up above. And I hope it’s knowing that you’ll get it delivered directly to your inbox when it’s ready.
So far, it’s been delivered free.
And some of it will remain that way – the plan is for at least one dispatch a week.
But many of you have asked what you can do to support the reporting and writing found here. And I appreciate you asking. You understand the work involved.
This week, I’m adding subscription levels – $7/month, or $70/year – to get it all.
A founding member option, starting at $150, is available, too, for those who really believe in what’s happening here and want to help sustain the work it takes. (Added bonus: Periodically, I’ll make an end table or growler tote or record crate or something out of of hardwood in the shop and raffle it off to founding members — if you’re into that sort of thing. Or we’ll meet for drinks at the Sparrow or somewhere and talk about what’s up.)
Starting July 1, subscribers will get every post in their inbox, anywhere from three to six times a week.
To upgrade, click on the Subscribe button. The options are there.
Soon, there will be opportunities for sponsorships, too. But we’ll deal with that later. (If that piques your interest now, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can talk.)
WHAT’S COMING NEXT?
Is this DIY reporting project going to work? We’re going to find out. (Is Lafayette ever going to get the Izzy Stradlin’ statue this city deserves? We’re going to find that out, too.)
I hope we find out together, in regular stories and updates in your inbox.
And, I hope you tell your friends. (Shameless plug: See “Share” button below.)
During decades of reporting, I kept a clip from a Rolling Stone interview with Paul Westerberg, songwriting leader of the late, great Replacements, taped to my computer screen. The reporter asked Westerberg if people ever came up and asked about his songs. Westerberg replied: Absolutely.
“People always come up and say, ‘You wrote this just for me.’ And I say: ‘Yeah, I did. I don’t know you, but I knew you were out there.’”
Over more than three decades of covering Lafayette, West Lafayette and Purdue, I knew you were out there.
I know you’re out there now.
Let’s see what stories we can tell together.
If you’re reading this in your inbox, thanks for signing up for Based in Lafayette. If you want to share this, you can get a link online here. Want to get more dispatches from this independent reporting project, straight to your inbox? Subscribe and they’ll be yours. Click on the Subscribe button and sign up. Have story tips? Send them to: email@example.com. Thanks for reading.