Reflections on Starting Our Third Decade in Alameda

File photo Early staff at the Alameda Sun, left to right: Kos, Sharon Reid, Turowski, Solomon Russell, Park Tracey, Ed Moser, Louisa Bryant, Laurel Yeates, Woody Minor, Spratley.

Reflections on Starting Our Third Decade in Alameda

As 2021 closes the Alameda Sun staff took a moment to reflect on the newspaper’s two decades of service. We considered our origins, what we have accomplished, and what the future may bring.

Starting in July 2001, three friends: Jim Spratley, Eric J. Kos and Eric Turowski, who met while working for an East Bay newspaper chain, got together to pursue Spratley’s dream of starting a local newspaper focused primarily on Alameda. Kos (the only founder still living in Alameda today) brought in another friend and newspaper veteran, Julia Park (Tracey) as the founding editor.

In September 2001, the dream became a reality when the four partners opened a small office at 3211 “D” Encinal Ave. Spratley, a native-born Alamedan, brought a host of local knowledge and business contacts; Kos, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design brought his graphic design experience at the Piedmont Post and the Castro Valley Forum; Park Tracey added her journalism and English/creative writing degrees and experience, and Turowski brought a wide set of business and production skills from his experience at various Bay Area newspapers and other publications.

Near the end of the first year, Spratley’s life took on a new direction, and the team wished him a fond farewell. The remaining three partners continued until 2007 when Julia Park Tracey was offered a position with Alameda Magazine. She would go on to serve as Alameda’s Poet Laureate for three years. She continues to support the Alameda Sun whenever she is needed. Another four years went by, and family health issues pulled Turowski’s attention away. As a result, Dennis Evanosky, who had joined the Sun in 2005, stepped in as a partner to the last remaining founder, Kos, starting in 2011.

Over the years, the Sun has solidified its position as an Alameda-focused publication. The community showered staff with appreciation in so many ways: from truffles and wine at the holidays to a score of awards staff was humbled to receive. The Sun helped publish significant local history books as well as dabbling in poetry and horror, all while contributing tens of thousands of dollars in free advertising space to worthy local causes. The Sun has maintained a website as a resource to the community and supported many worthy causes with volunteer time and on rare occasions, dollars.

All that the Sun accomplished over the years are significant in their own right but pale against the past year and half, which have been the most difficult times the Sun has ever faced, right alongside the City of Alameda and people suffering from disease and loss the world over. In March 2020 we watched events and businesses shutter one by one, chipping away at the Sun’s future.

At first, not sure what to do, Kos adopted a subscription-based model of delivery that reduced costs and kept the company solvent for an additional year. (Government PPP loans helped out also). The Sun chose this path not only to reduce costs, but to protect Alamedans and their friends and family, by reducing the amount of potential human contact on their property. Then the paper went ahead to publish every bit of information available on COVID-19, its impacts locally, recommended treatments and course of action. As Alameda’s business and civic leaders tried their best to mitigate the economic damage and keep people safe, the Sun helped by providing an additional forum for the mayor’s and other official updates.

While the Sun couldn’t help family members hold the hand of elderly parents in a nursing home or hug a child or spouse in the hospital with COVID-19, the Sun continued to do what it does best, connect people through shared experience. The realization grew: we’re not in this alone; we all need each other.

The Alameda Sun particularly recognizes the sacrifices of EMTs, health professionals, doctors and nurses who are taking the brunt of this pandemic and facing life-threatening situations daily. Our hearts go out to those who may not be able to celebrate the holiday season with family members due to health, economic or other reasons. We’ve seen the pandemic’s chilling effect on local businesses — our customers and friends — and their employees. Now, some are beginning to see a new path forward.

Alameda helped the Sun, too. Right from the start of the shutdown and continuing today, Alameda realtor and tireless advocate for veterans, Joe Lo Paro, stepped up, rallied his friends, and literally lent a hand, taking on weekly delivery routes for the paper. The City of Alameda continued to partner with the Sun for its legal publishing needs and hundreds of Alameda residents became subscribers and shared their hard-earned dollars to help preserve the city’s only independent community newspaper.

But that’s what it’s all about, what the Sun represents: people helping each other - from sharing a cup of sugar with the neighbor next door, to the child in the stroller passing by whose smile represents hope for a better future. As we give thanks that we have survived these difficult times, the Sun will not forget the help we gave each other: from food shopping for a home-bound elder to the collective action of the people of the City of Alameda that made a positive difference.

Thank you, Alameda, for the past 20 years and we look forward to our third decade together.
Season’s greetings and well wishes for the New Year.

— Sun Staff and Board of Directors