2023 at California Local in Review

In which we count our accomplishments, and blessings, at the turning of the year.

PUBLISHED JAN 1, 2024 2:02 P.M.
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We look back as we rush forward.

We look back as we rush forward.   LIUSHENGFILM   Shutterstock/standard

When you’re head down, moving up a hillside, doing the job of putting seeds and sprouts into the ground, you can get lost in the work and maybe lose sight of the vision until you stop for a break and look back at the forest you’ve planted, following you up the hill.

The holidays provide a natural place for our team to take a break and spend time with our friends and families, reflecting on the year that’s passed.

And goodness, what a year it’s been.

1. Our Book Is Coming Out!

We wrote a book about how our beautiful, crazy, mixed-up state of California works!

California is one of the most complex political entities in the world. California Local’s upcoming book explains it all in 46 fascinating chapters.

Announcing ‘How California Works,’ the First Book From California Local

California Local enters the world of book publishing with its upcoming book, ‘How California Works,’ explaining the inner workings of this ‘most American state.’

2. Sacramento Digs Gardening Is Cooking

Our sister publication, Sacramento Digs Gardening, has released three cookbooks this year!

Kathy Morrison and Debbie Arrington of SDG are among the most prolific writers we know, publishing an article every day of the year. Every. Day.

Among this outpouring of gardening information and wisdom is a recipe from their garden once per week, which they’ve started to collect and compile into seasonal cookbooks. Together, we’ve published three so far, and the winter cookbook is just around the corner.

  • Taste Spring!Sacramento Digs Gardening presents delicious seasonal recipes from your garden.”
  • Taste Summer!Celebrate Summer’s luscious flavors with more than five dozen seasonal recipes.”
  • Taste Fall! Fall brings shorter days, but still hints of summer. Celebrate with more than 60 seasonal recipes.”

3. Awards and Rewards

A high point in the year was winning two awards for our site and our journalism from the California News Publishers Association.

We won third place in the Public Service category for our Santa Cruz Rail Trail tracker, which compiled news and information about a contentious infrastructure project in Santa Cruz County.

We also won first place for Story Presentation Layout and Design.

These awards were totally unexpected, and it’s a good feeling to receive recognition from one’s colleagues.

But while it’s nice to get awards, it’s more rewarding to think back on our impact.

Our motto is “Discover > Connect > Act,” and one way we measure our success is counting the views of our articles, our directory listings of local nonprofits and government agencies, and the clicks we send elsewhere on the Internet.

A third of the views on our site over the last year have been to the local government and nonprofit community group listings in our database, and we’ve sent thousands of people to connect with those entities.

Our mission is to document the civic fabric of local communities in California, and to “make it easier to citizen” (in which “citizen,” of course, is a verb). The logged incoming views and outgoing clicks show we’re making a positive impact.

4. Expanding Alliances

Our media and community alliances have been growing as we reach out to local newsrooms, businesses and community groups working in the counties we serve.

The newsrooms in our media alliance work to keep their communities informed, and we work to amplify and spread their reporting in our newsletter and on our site.

The groups in our community alliance work to make their communities better, and we recently increased our focus on telling their stories and highlighting their efforts. Our newsletter features a new “Get to Know a Group” section, which introduces our readers to a new nonprofit every week, and we highlight groups and events on our site.

5. Welcome Yolo and San Joaquin Counties

This year, Sharan Street, our executive editor, added San Joaquin and Yolo counties to our coverage area.

In San Joaquin County, that includes listings for 53 media outlets, 19 governments, 9 elected bodies, 42 elected representatives and 92 community groups. In Yolo County, we present listings for 58 media outlets, 17 governments, 12 elected bodies, 51 elected representatives and 110 community groups.

That’s a lot of discovery, data entry and upkeep! Go Sharan!

6. Making California Local Better

We’ve also been making ongoing improvements to the California Local site, including:

  • Improved search functionality for articles and directories
  • Improved Traffic page for information about local road conditions
  • Improved Weather page for information and alerts about local fires, flooding earthquakes, and oh yes, the weather
  • Addition of local government press releases, announcements and meeting schedules
  • Addition of site bookmarks
  • Easy elected representative lookup for California Local members

7. Big Social Implodes

2023 was the year the Big Social imploded and got out of the information business, focusing instead on “content.”

Already challenged, the news industry has had to grapple with the fact that social media, once a place where people discovered news and information, has turned its back on any responsibilty to act as an information conduit to the public.

Illustration by Chris Neklason.

Ex-Twitter: One Dead Bird

Big Social Media is becoming useless as a news feed or organizing hub. Is a replacement emerging in the Fediverse?

8. Looking Forward to 2024

The last few years have been hard, for everybody. 2024 is going to be hard.

And yet I look forward with great optimism, because I draw so much inspiration from our work at California Local.

We report on the civic fabric of local communities—the government agencies and elected representatives, the nonprofits and community groups and the individuals who make citizen a verb. The people who come together to make things better.

In the course of our work, we interact with and tell the stories of those people, and it’s their energy and their commitment to taking personal responsibilty for making California work which gives me continued hope.

So, thank you to all the people out there who shine every day. You are our lodestar, our true north.

Let’s make 2024 awesome.


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