A New Chapter

By Sandra Sylvester | Apr 08, 2013
Photo by: Brenda Peabody

Welcome to the new chapter of “On Being a Southender,” now called “Beyond the South End.” Because the scope of this blog has changed since I started it in 2009, I have decided to broaden the whole concept by going outside the confines of the South End. To be truthful, I simply ran out of stories of the South End and I also found that my readership has expanded way beyond its boundaries as well. That’s not to say that I may come up with a South End story from time to time.

I will still bring you the features you are used to seeing at this point, not to worry. Let’s discuss the evolution of “On Being a Southender” to discover how it got to its present state and, therefore, became “Beyond the South End.”

“On Being a Southender” began as an advertising tool for my book The South End when it was published in 2009. Contrary to what you may believe, the book came first, then the blog.

The original blog appeared in the old Village Soup online site and weekly blogs focused exclusively on the South End. When I decided to expand the blog to include more than just a weekly story by starting my own blog, we saw “On Being a Southender” appear online in my own blog space and not on the Village Soup site.

My intent at that time was to begin a newsletter of sorts that would bring the folks at home a place to go to to keep up with local events and topics. Included were Maine recipes; the UPDATE blog to give an overview of that month’s blog; Benefits and Good Works, to highlight the good news; Schedules for the Sail, Power and Steam Museum in the South End and local libraries; seasonal arts and crafts and seasonal schedules of events; as well as the South End story for that week.

As time went on, I found that it took me too much research time to include all of the schedules and events and to present several recipes a month (I soon ran out of Maine recipes). It was obvious that I was only repeating what the folks up home could find in their local newspapers. Therefore, I gave them up as well as giving up the recipes altogether.

I still do a feature on the museum when they email me a special request as well as the Thomaston library news, because they also send email requests. As long as the information is presented to me and I don’t have to go in search of it, I will always include such information. As I’ve said many times before, this blog is as much yours as it is mine. I always welcome information, stories, poems and the like from you my loyal readers.

Because I didn’t have to spend so much time each month in those kinds of research pieces, I could concentrate on stories of interest to my readers, literary pieces, opinions, essays, travel pieces, and book and magazine reviews. My stats showed that readership was higher for this format than it was for the more local format. I believe my readership has continued to grow because of the format choices I made.

As I went along I invited others to join me in monthly guest blogs. Therefore we now have brother Ted’s “Fish and Chip” columns from his editor days at the Bangor Daily News; Kendall Merriam’s “South End Poet” blog joined us in August 2012; and the newest blog I share with cousin Mary Sue Hilton Weeks, “The Hilton Homestead” has proven to be a winner already.

We’ve also had one-time blogs from readers from time to time. Included are Sister Sally, Todd McIntosh, and Jean Monroe.

Besides dropping the schedules from each month, UPDATE became “Sonny’s Sunshine Corner” and I will occasionally feature an outstanding citizen like Alice Knight, in lieu of Benefits and Good Works. I have recently reinstated a “Recipe of the Month” because the stats show people want to see a recipe once in a while.

When the Courier Gazette returned to us last year I decided to post my special weekly blog to that site online. The blog is also now forwarded to Facebook; Google News; and other online sites.

So now we are up-to-date on the whys and wherefores of changing the name of this blog from “On Being a Southender” to “Beyond the Southend.” The URL remains the same, by the way: www.southendstories.blogspot.com.

A note about my Facebook page, “South End Stories,” which can be reached through the blog by clicking on it on the right hand side or by going to www.facebook.com/SouthendS will remain the same. “South End Stories” has become my brand name and is the name most will recognize me by. That page began as a means to advertise my book and it still does as well as other projects I’m working on. There are subjects I will post there that will not appear anywhere else and I will forward some of my “Beyond the South End” stories there also.

By the way, if you need a real South End fix and have not read all of the 2009 stories, I invite you to check out “On Being a Southender, 2009” CD available by clicking on that box on the right hand side of the blog or by contacting me at southendstories@aol.com.

I hope you enjoy “Beyond the South End.” I look forward to bringing you new and exciting stories and other pieces of interest now and in the future. Thank you for your continued support of my work.

Picture note: The picture above, leading out of the South End on Water Street, is one of the images on my book cover, The South End. It was taken by my niece, Brenda Sylvester Peabody.



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