Home News and Features The Bridge Welcomes New Editor-in-Chief Mara Brooks

The Bridge Welcomes New Editor-in-Chief Mara Brooks

Mara Brooks
Editor-in-Chief of The Bridge, Mara Brooks

“You must be crazy.”

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard that phrase since first bidding farewell to sunny Los Angeles five years ago to embrace the bitter cold of New England. Although born in New York, I grew up mainly in southern California; the proverbial land of movie magic and sunshine. But I never felt at home on the warm Pacific shores. Instead, I dreamed of returning to the east coast, though not to New York, which for me wasn’t quite the right aesthetic, either. I was, somehow, a New England girl, for reasons as mysterious to me as they apparently were to everyone else. To paraphrase Nabokov, I had a case of “nostalgia in reverse,” the longing for a land in which I had never lived but felt convinced was that most elusive of places: home.

After spending a few years on Cape Cod, I chose to move to Vermont for reasons perfectly articulated by Down Home Kitchen’s Mary Alice Proffitt in our cover story: I could imagine my life here. Vermont’s enchantment of colors, from the clear radiance of its blue skies to the reds, yellows, greens, and purples of its famous autumn leaves and the promise of a more thoughtful way of life sold me on my very first visit. There’s a purity and timelessness to Vermont I’d been looking for my entire life but had feared only existed in eras gone by.

In departing Los Angeles, I also sought to leave behind the smoke-and-mirrors entertainment industry where I’d experienced success but no real joy. (Cue another chorus of “you must be crazy.”). While working as a busy indie film studio writer and publicist in LA, I never failed to pursue community journalism on the side. My passion was for local news; stories about everyday people confronting extraordinary circumstances. Community journalism is, for me, a treasure hunt of sorts—the search for a glittering gem of a story hidden within the deceptively ordinary routine of everyday life. The satisfaction of shining a light on important issues overlooked by bigger news outlets felt meaningful to me in a way other types of writing did not.

I applied to become editor-in-chief of The Bridge because it represented the dream job I had long waited for. The Bridge staff and its board members, including the wonderful Friends of the Bridge, are among the most talented, dedicated, and principled folks I’ve ever had the joy to encounter, never mind work with.

The vision I bring to this position is informed by my experiences in both news reporting and, yes, entertainment. Because while I value the tradition and purity of the Vermont lifestyle, certain practical considerations in today’s news and media landscape cannot be ignored. The Bridge has scrimped and saved mightily to get our new website up and running, and in 2020 our readers can expect many new features, both informative and entertaining, and a wider variety of stories on montpelierbridge.org. As editor-in-chief, I hope to personally get to know as many of you as I can, and I encourage you to reach out with your feedback—positive and negative—about the stories we run and anything else that’s on your mind. The Bridge is here to be your voice, and we couldn’t exist without your ongoing support and engagement.

When the internet first came on the scene, many predicted the demise of community newspapers (and some predicted the demise of print journalism, period). But research has shown that when a town loses its newspaper, its residents largely lose their sense of connection to each other. We are deeply grateful that you continue to support The Bridge and our steadfast mission to provide just that: a bridge to connect Central Vermont residents to a bigger, greater sense of community.

I want to thank the board members of The Bridge for trusting me with leading this wonderful paper and for allowing me the opportunity to begin this new decade doing what I love most.

Happy New Year to everyone—and let the roaring ‘20s begin!