Buckle Up 2017. I’m Sticking Around.

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Three years ago, and with a lot to lose, I found myself at a crossroads in life. I don’t remember what the road unchosen looked like anymore but I know the road I’ve taken and it is unpredictable, and sometimes thrilling and a bit hair raising. But I love where I am right now and I’m going to stay the course.

In the months prior to launching the Northern Hoot, I was struggling with my nature that obligates me to wear away the surface of matters until I can get to the most uncomfortable truth of it all. One dreary November afternoon in 2013, over tea in her downtown shop, a kind and patient woman indulged me as I felt sorry for myself, nattering away about how my most recent pursuit for clarity had made life, well, difficult lately. In all her wisdom, this woman brought me to an epiphany moment and I was confronted with the fact that in my own experiences as a very young person, I was not only a witness to, but a culprit in the extensive collateral damage that occurs when people don’t report the truth.

Don’t worry- I’m not launching my next human interest piece (about myself) here, but that realization is definitely what has kept me writing the hard stories through some very lean and discouraging times -those times when it should have made the most sense to stop.

But it wasn’t my own feeling of the need to repent that has kept me on this path –I’d have put down the pen a long time ago if that were the case. It is the need that has been expressed, by community and region, that regular folks require a platform that is unrestricted and uninhibited so they may honestly bring their stories before the public eye. Because pursuing the truth matters for many people.

As a writer, my area of professional expertise is specialized. With enough years of education and experience in non-profit and ‘grassrootsy’ fields, I draw heavily upon my lived experiences and the narratives shared by other people to write the stories that this growing readership has come to expect from the Northern Hoot. Over two and a half years, I’ve aimed to provide original and in-depth coverage about the most relevant topics in my city of origin- Sault Ste. Marie, as well as across the greater expanse of Northern Ontario. I haven’t been alone in doing this and I am thankful to a small handful of writers that have contributed to these areas of concern for little -and more often zero, reimbursement.

2016 has not been without its challenges. On the home front, for as much support there has been, a great deal of opposition has been underfoot in protest of the Northern Hoot’s raw coverage of several contentious events which raised a melee of emotions among community members. I’ll be honest and confess that I believe our community requires this sort of transparency, rigorous debate, and meaningful public expression to shake free from decades of political and media restraint –and that’s just my personal opinion.

In a previous letter shared with you this past summer, I tossed down my pride and admitted I urgently required recurring monthly support from individual readers, advertisers and even sponsors who want to get behind an alternative news site that slows down the news and cracks open controversial issues. Heading into 2017, that is still true.

Looking back over the past year I have to be honest- I didn’t think I would make it this far. I certainly couldn’t have gotten here without the love and sacrifice of the people closest to me or the generous donations from readers that have often come just in the nick of time. And the words of support I have received from so many of you have been uplifting during the times I’ve wanted to leave all of this behind and just sell perfume –and seriously, I love fragrance.

The support I receive from readers and advertisers is applied to survival costs- little things that add up like groceries, rent and occasionally a small indulgence at Lena’s (my lifetime hairdresser). As for timeshares in Florida, the good bottle of wine and dry-cleaned bedsheets …well, now I’m laughing (not really).

However, as I look ahead, I am hopeful and excited about the New Year. I really am! And I am so thankful for the support of readers and advertisers who have helped me along with the growth of the Northern Hoot. I’m thankful to readers who have sent me frequent messages cheering me on and encouraging me as I slog through one uncertain day after another. And I am especially thankful for so many people who have fearfully and courageously shared their stories that cover a range of issues that affect every one of us in Sault Ste. Marie and Northern Ontario.

So I come before you again asking for your financial support to launch me into the New Year. Expenses are pressing in January and I turn to my loyal readership to keep me writing. I’m compelled to write for you, I love writing for you…I only hope to make ends meet- and keep my roots touched up, while I do so.

If there has been a story that was important to you or touched your heart in some way, if you believe that we need in-depth journalism in the North, please make a one-time or a recurring donation today by clicking here. E-transfers can also be sent to steffaniepetroni@gmail.com.

Much love and wishes to all for a Happy New Year,

Steffanie Petroni

Founding-Editor-in-Chief, Northern Hoot

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A big thank-you to our 2016 advertisers: Treemen and a Chainsaw, Chirp Cosmetics, Gail Joy Investments, Forests Ontario, Back in Motion, the Office of Terry Sheehan, Shaw Milling Ltd., Personal Touch Automotive, Planetary Pride and The Garden Side.

A special thanks to the patience and fine back-end support by Envision Strategy and Design, and Matt Farrell.

Thank you and much love to Nic Turco who donated his time to the Northern Hoot cause for such a long time and to Jessica Mooney for the inspiration she brought during her time with us.

And thank you and much gratitude to my peers, these wonderful writers who have enriched the Northern Hoot site with their unique voice: Doug Millroy, Meaghan McDonald, Derek Jackson, Peggy Lauzon, Robert Currier (Farmer Bob), Parker Gallant, Robert Rattle, Brian Mealey and Glen Louttit. You are all my most favourite writer.

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