From stories of how couples first met to reporting on the food trucks at the community pool that brought residents together during the COVID-19 pandemic, Linda Fornaciari and Di Gow have enjoyed getting to know their neighbors better as co-editors of the Ladera Crier over the last 11 years. But the two recently passed the baton to new editors.
The pair, who both moved to Ladera in the early '90s, edited their final issue in March. The motto of the Crier is "all the news that's fun to print."
"It's time for other people to share the fun," said Fornaciari. "It helps connect people. I've gotten to know a lot of different neighbors doing this. ... It's been exciting, endearing and exhausting."
The two brought the publication established in the '50s as the Country Crier, from a four- to five- page newsletter to 16 pages monthly. It includes family recipes, birth announcements, book reviews, an events calendar, sports news, items about a newly completed treehouse or lemonade sale and more.
The newsletter is emailed, but some 300 of the 535 homes in Ladera still receive a print copy, according to Fornaciari and Gow.
"In my first editor's note, I said part of the fun of starting was the historical files of the Crier," Fornaciari wrote to readers. "'Reading through them reveals that the more things change, the more Ladera remains the same close-knit community. It's full of people who participate, who jump in to help run things, who lend a hand or a ladder (or an opinion on the listserv). A Menlo Park friend claims, 'You Laderans are more like a cult than a neighborhood!' and I take that as a compliment. That's still true."
Gow estimates she knows about 85 to 90% of her neighbors, in part thanks to her involvement in the newsletter. Ladera also hosts twice weekly barbeques from May to September, which started in the 1950s.
Ladera, which is now home to about 1,600 people, was founded in 1946 as a cooperative housing experiment.
"There exists here, for many, a feeling of cohesiveness and neighborhood that does not exist in many unincorporated communities or towns," according to Ladera Lore, a 1974 book by Hallis Friend and Nancy Lund. "Perhaps this is because of the dreams and early leadership of the town. Perhaps it is because homes aren't too far apart or too close together. Or it may be the result of the need for group action on the various issues which have arisen over the years."
Gow said the editors already knew what an amazing neighborhood is, but the newsletter validated it. Gow will also retire from her role managing the Ladera Recreation District this month. She plans to continue to manage the newsletter's calendar.
To anyone interested in launching their own community newsletter, Fornaciari advises to not be afraid to start.
Residents Dorothy Pavloff, Laura Hamilton, Linda Schuck, and Mia Clark have committed to keep publishing the Crier through the end of the year. Each editor will be in charge of specific beats such as school news and features, according to Gow and Fornaciari.