From The Editors
A new year is upon us.
You've likely heard the news already. Just before 1 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 5, Rashid Anderson was shot in the chest at a private party at the East Erie Turners building, his death marking Erie's first homicide of 2014 barely five days into the new year.
During the same night that Anderson lost his life, another man and two women also suffered gunshot wounds. The next day at his swearing-in ceremony, Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott pledged to continue efforts to fight what he called "senseless" violence in Erie, stating also that "anti-violence initiatives have worked to curb this stuff," as reported by Erie Times-News' Kevin Flowers, "but it continues. We have to have community involvement."
Community involvement is key. And involvement means action.
We can talk all we want — from Facebook messages to community meetings — about the atrocities, about the complexity of the troubled times we face, about what we think to be the root of the problem — but as they say: Talk is cheap.
It's cheap because it doesn't cost us much, our time, our energy, our efforts, our money. Action — what we need now more than ever — does. And people like self-starter, self-motivator, self-made local millionaire, and investor "Mr. Joe" give us hope that folks in our community are investing in action.
The subject of our "You Ought To Know" in this issue, "Mr. Joe," who came from poverty himself but who is now both successful and wealthy, created the "Thousandaires Club," an initiative that involves him traveling to various schools and organizations to speak to children about the importance of sound financial investment. And he walks in with a thousand dollars, a fat stack of cash that these kids can fan a thumb through and feel the weight of in their hands.
"I don't want to change much," Joe told Ryan Smith. "I just want to change the world." And once you read his story, you'll see how he's doing it.
But change doesn't stop there. By now, in addition to having heard the news, you've heard the weather reports. It's cold. Record-breaking cold, as the Polar Vortex has Erie in its grips. In this issue, Rebecca Styn writes about the various warming shelters and aid available for those not fortunate enough to have the luxury of a warm bed and a roof over their heads.
And let's face it, there can never be enough action-seekers in our city, because they're the ones actually fighting to make a difference, to make Erie a better place for us all. Enter Bob Jensen and the Blue Pike Music Awards, our first cover feature of the new year.
Last year, Bob had an idea: support the local music scene with an award show that celebrates and recognizes the vast pool of talent swimming around the Erie area. And to capture the gravity of just how vital such a notion is, he named it after a fish once indigenous to Lake Erie. To find out what happened to that fish — and what's happening as Bob and company host their second awards show — you'll have to read Matthew Flowers' captivating story.
The celebration of heroes — the Mr. Joes, the folks looking to lend some time to those in need, the Bob Jensens — can be found in all walks of Erie life. And as a publication that strives to put Erie's best foot forward, we're happy to share these stories with you, and we're excited to introduce new ways to highlight Erie any chance we get, which is why we're proud to present "ER Sports" with Erie's own James R. LeCorchick.
It's no secret that given different deadlines than a daily newspaper, it's difficult for an alt-weekly to cover sports consistently in print. That's why we believe there's no better fit than JRL because of his knowledge of local sports, his relentless attention to detail, and his ability to capture the deeper sports stories in our city that illuminate the people behind the numbers and stats to leave you with the names you won't forget.
So if there's one thing that will usher in the bright future of 2014, it's the people of Erie. And we're happy to continue on our journey here in our fourth volume to continue to bring you the stories that matter to the people — from the musicians, to the activists, to the investors, and beyond — who make Erie a good place to call home.