In honor of The Land’s third anniversary, we’re catching up with a few of our 50 community journalists. Learn more about our community journalism program here. The Land’s Lee Chilcote talked with Christina Easter, a Glenville resident who has published multiple stories for The Land since completing our program.
You’re juggling a lot – working as an editor at the Tri-C Voice, taking classes in film, and writing. How’s it going?
It’s a lot of writing and a lot of deadlines. I took on a lot this semester, but I wanted to really be able to exercise my writing muscles, do interviews, and listen to people. I had a screenplay that was due Tuesday and you had to submit it and then they gave you feedback. And so then I had to adjust it a little bit. Isn’t that the thing in writing? All writing is rewriting!
Do you have any favorite stories you’ve written?
I like all of the stories I’ve gotten to write and edit. It’s just getting the bigger picture. That’s what I like about journalism. Finding out what’s really going on.
How did you get started in journalism? Was it something you’ve been interested in for a while?
I actually do standup comedy. So that’s what actually got me started in writing. People used to always say to me, “You should go to the Improv.” I’ll never forget, I used to watch Eddie Murphy years ago. And I remember he said that he wrote down everything he said, and the person said, ‘You wrote everything you said?’ He was like, ‘Yeah.’ And they were like, ‘Even the the’s?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah.’ I called the Improv in Cleveland and they told me you had to have five minutes. So I thought, well, there’s only one way to know if I have something that’s five minutes, you gotta write it and practice it. And so I did it. And then it let me say, ‘Okay, this works, so then I can expand this, keep expanding on this, this, and this.’
I kept seeing ads to write for the student newspaper (at Tri-C). And so, when the pandemic hit, I just called and was like, you know, can I write? I figured if you could write for a student newspaper, then that should be able to help you learn how to write for a broader audience.
What got you interested in the Land’s community journalism class?
Well, I saw that and I said, ‘I need to learn how to write.’ I travel all over Northeast Ohio and see different neighborhoods as they grow and change and develop and evolve. When I go to Euclid, there’s so many shops up and down there, and over in Lakewood and Tremont and Gordon Square and Ohio City there are a lot of changes. And I’m like, is that gonna happen here in Glenville? I thought, ‘I could write that. It would be interesting to follow that story and see what happens over the next 5-10 years here.’ And so when I saw the community journalism classes, I thought that was a good opportunity for me.
You’ve done a number of stories about businesses in Glenville, including profiling ThirdSpace Action Lab, which just opened a reading room and bookstore. What did you learn from talking to people?
I learned that people are trying to do things. It is just a very long process to get things done. And then you’ve gotta know the right avenues to take what resources are available. You’ve gotta find collaborations and like-minded people with the same type of an interest. And it has to be a serious endeavor because it’s a long-term commitment. And then once you do that, it still doesn’t end.
I learned a lot from talking to (Ward 9) Councilman Kevin Conwell. He would tell me, ‘When I go to the grocery store, I’m there for three hours.’ He would say to me, ‘I’ve done these different things, I haven’t left the community and sought a higher political office, I want to stay here.’ It shows that it takes a lot to get things done. And you have people (like Conwell) who are hanging in there trying to do their part. With ThirdSpace Action Lab, I probably would not have known about them if I hadn’t done the articles.
What advice do you have for folks who are taking the community journalism classes?
Well, you have to really want to do it. You have to really want to write. If you are a writer, it’s a good thing to do because it does let you tell stories. If you’re not a writer, it’s gonna be challenging because you have that time commitment. It’s because of those deadlines. You’ve gotta go and do interviews and do you have the time to do that? And also, do you meet the deadline for when the article is due? And then once you do that, you also have to be receptive to editors changing it or asking questions. So you have to think about all of those things. And it’s not just a simple as, ‘Here’s a story, I wrote it.’
Well, you gotta let us know when you’re doing comedy.
So now the problem I have is I’m a big golfer. Golf season goes really fast in Northeast Ohio. I walk when I play, so by the time I finish stumping up and down the course, it’s like, ‘Wow. Do I feel like going to a comedy show now?’ But it’s in there and it’s been on my brain before I started doing the writing.
Learn more about The Land’s community journalism program here.
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