Authentic Italian meals, a favourite pet, and a dash of history – Neighbours of West Galt magazine January 2023 edition

Daniela Sfara’s stories of visiting Italy and regional food made me hungry as I edited the January 2023 edition of Neighbours of West Galt magazine.

She came to town and fell in love with the architecture in Cambridge, Ontario – especially on the west side of the Grand River. She’s now a private chef creating and serving gourmet meals in homes across West Galt. Photographer Stan Switalski provided the cover and inside images to accompany the story.

The monthly magazine is published by Best Version Media and delivered by Canada Post to mailboxes in my neighbourhood.

For 17 years, I worked as a journalist, photographer, and editor at the former Cambridge Reporter newspaper. Now, 20 years since it closed, I continue to put my local news and writing skills to work as a content coordinator for Neighbours of West Galt. It’s an analog anomaly in the 21st century: a print-only, local magazine.

I’m always looking for news, event, and photo submissions about West Galt, at this email.

Stories and photos submitted to the magazine in the January edition included:

Another book published: Tara Mondou released another of her fiction novels, entitled Tara’s story.

Sculpture Garden enhanced: The Cambridge Sculpture Garden announced it enhanced the outdoor arts area along Grand Avenue, beside the Grand River. Included in the $30,000 project were new signs, lighting, banners, and a bench.

Galt Railway history: Local historian Trevor Parkins-Scibarras shared one of his Transit Time Warp photo comparisons. It shows a train crossing the Grand River in 1900 and again in the same spot in 2022, using the landmark Canadian Pacific Railway bridge over the Grand River.

Pet of the Month: Bubbles, a Labradoodle dog who greets customers entering Molloy’s Soap at 7 Grand Avenue South.

Season of stage performances: Drayton Entertainment, with it’s main theatre in Cambridge, announced an ambitious 2023 season of dramas, musicals, and comedies planned for its six stages across southern Ontario.

2022 Community Awards: The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce announced its 2022 winners of the Cambridge and North Dumfries Community Awards.

New, high-tech hospital equipment: Cambridge Memorial hospital shared news about opening a new endoscopic ultrasound surgical clinic.

Become a more effective writer by reading The Elements of Style, by William Strunk

My copy of The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White.

I just call it Strunk and White, but the book’s proper name is The Elements of Style.

There’s no better writing guide I’ve seen for preparing stories, speeches, news releases or pretty well any English-language business or personal communication. After 40 years of writing for money as a freelancer, newspaper journalist, editor, teacher and communications consultant, it remains a go-to reference. It offers me essential advice as I continue learning and practicing my craft.

The 95-page book is a century old and still offers rock-solid advice to be heard and understood in a noisy digital world.  Write with active verbs.  Use simple words where possible.  Put short, direct sentences to work.

I’ll warn you: writing shorter takes longer.  Creating effective written communication is hard work. There’s no app for that — yet.

There is, however, an Elements of Style rap music video.

Here’s a link to the original The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, as a no-charge ebook offered by Project Gutenberg:

An updated, paperback version remains in print and a copy belongs on your reference shelf. For any writer, I suggest it’s the best $9.10 (CAN) you can spend on Amazon today:

Jargon always gets my attention, but probably not how you intended

Jargon in your business writing immediately gets my attention.

It’s jarring for me when I trip unexpectedly on those special words or acronyms only understood by your in-crowd.

As an outsider, I wonder if you understand what you are talking about at the moment I am trying to understand what you are talking about.

I don’t think that’s an effective communication tactic.

Jargon hurts business communication, in print or spoken delivery. Don’t take shortcuts. Describe what’s happening. Imagine you know little or nothing about the topic. Help your audience understand, instead of annoying it.

Over 30 years as a journalist, I spent much of my time deciphering jargon in business and government reports. I don’t recall jargon ever helping me understand. I only kept reading because I was paid to keep reading.

Descriptive words, delivered in short sentences, are your friends.

Thanks to Kinda Gorman for this Twitter wisdom…

Blogging: Keep your posts on track with storytelling and the eye of a journalist

Ryan Hodnett, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Want to improve the chances your company blog posts will actually be read by someone? 

Tell a story. Make it relatable to your audience. And have a little fun.

That’s what Scott Money does in this Metrolinx post updating the status of passenger railway track repairs:

It could easily have derailed into an overloaded recitation of work at any big construction site.
Instead, Money uses a journalistic eye to highlight details. He informs and entertains while keeping the story moving smoothly along the tracks.

I recommend you use his approach as a how-to guide in writing your own blog posts. These are efficient and effective ways of gaining and retaining audience attention. The blogging tips I highlight here are communication tactics familiar to anyone who’s written under daily deadlines in newspaper, radio or television newsrooms. They’re key tactics you can use to create compelling content for your blog.

What’s it like?

Money pulls readers into the construction zone with his selective descriptions. He invites them to ponder what it’s like as construction working with Highway 401 traffic zooming behind their backs. It’s Canada’s busiest highway roaring beside workers toiling on Canada’s busiest railway corridor.

There’s a photo with the blog post, but the construction site description provides emotional details the image can’t supply.

Money efficiently and confidently explains the what and the why. What’s happened and what’s next? Descriptions are clear and vivid. He focuses on the change and why it’s important. He salts the prose with a dash or two of railway jargon. I also liked his dinosaur reference to help readers wrap their minds around the magnitude of the project. 

Did you read all the way to the end of his blog post?

I did.