I have learned much of value since 2012, when after a long planning process, I launched the Preserved Stories website

To an extent, the Preserved Stories serves as a communications hub, where people can share information about topics of mutual interest – including information related to committees of adjustment and local appeal boards (in the case of Toronto, I refer to the Toronto Local Appeal Body).

A key concept, regarding all land-use planning issues, is that human capital plays a central and determinant role, in getting results that serve the interests of local residents.

View of Parkview School, subsequently renamed as École élémentaire Micheline-Saint-Cyr, photographed from top of Aquaview Condominiums, November 2012. Pamela Gough played a key role, as noted at a recent post, in keeping Parkview School in public hands. I first became interested in local history in South Etobicoke after I learned, in 2010, that the school was about to be sold. Photo credit: Jaan Pill

As well, the site serves as a way for me to organize my own thinking – develop lines of thought, that otherwise would not have occurred to me.

The concept of a community hub, and the concept that a website can serve to organize a person’s thinking, had not occurred to me, at the point in 2012, after a long planning process – with a focus on attractive page layout, and ease of site navigation – when I launched the site.

An underlying theme, with regard to the above-noted concepts, is that many projects – including ones involving community organizing (or, to use a more cumbersome, but nonetheless very precise term, namely, community self-organizing) – are too big for one person, or even a handful of people, to accomplish on their own.

That is a concept I learned many years ago, in the course of extensive volunteer work, at the international level.

A related thought occurs to me. We live at a time where a new business model, for delivery of local news, has yet to be developed.

In circumstances where standard forms of local news reporting are unavailable, or are available only in a limited form, nonprofit news enterprises run by volunteers can to some extent make up for the void in local news reporting.

Such nonprofit enterprises, I like to think, can include what I like to describe as evidence-based websites, such as the Preserved Stories site.

Evidence-based local news reporting

In that context, I strongly encourage other people to set up websites such as mine, and engage in evidence-based reporting.

By the latter form of reporting, I refer to blogging that seeks at all times to verify and corroborate the information that we share, in alignment with standard principles – dating back from a previous business model – of responsible print and broadcast journalism.

The kind of journalism that I favour is not based upon algorithms related to what people are attracted to, in the online realm.

I follow with interest news about such algorithms.

However, given that my website is a nonprofit enterprise, it does not matter to me whether my posts are read by many people, or only a few, or any people at all. For that reason, I do not have an interest in using algorithms to increase traffic to the site.

Even if no one were reading the posts, the site would still serve as a tremendously valuable database, which serves the purpose of helping me to organize my thoughts, and develop themes that, in other circumstances, might not as readily have had the opportunity, to arise.

2 replies
  1. Bert Eccles
    Bert Eccles says:

    Hi Jaan,

    Just a brief note to thank you publicly for your determined and diligent efforts. I am frequently both educated and entertained by the thoughtful and often nostalgic content that regularly appears here, and I applaud your work in inspiring others to add their own perspectives on so many intriguing issues.

    Best regards,


  2. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Hi Bert,

    Wonderful to read your message. It’s wonderful when perspectives other than my own are encountered. I’ve been thinking today about how much I learn from site visitors such as yourself, and from individuals everywhere whose life experiences may in some ways parallel my own, and whose experiences in other ways may differ. We learn from each other.

    This site in my experience acts as a platform for insights and streams of thought. My own insights tend to occur in the early morning hours, at a time when I’m nowhere near my laptop. I also do much of my writing (in italic script) with pen and paper – a calligraphic fountain pen and a handy notebook – rather than at a keyboard. The keyboard is often what I use only at the stage when I am about to post a text.

    Yet in all of this, my laptop and my website, which serve as extensions of one’s mind, play a central role in the organizing of my thoughts.




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