Welcome to Winter Park Magazine. Or, perhaps, welcome back to Winter Park Magazine. Thanks to the support of readers (yes, this is a magazine for people who still like to read) and advertisers, we plan to publish quarterly in 2014 after producing two issues in 2012 and three in 2013.
At a time when print publications are struggling, Winter Park Magazine has been a rare success story. And I believe that success has as much to do with the community as it does with the magazine.
Winter Park has always been a unique place; a place where residents take pride its heritage and are fiercely protective of the qualities that make it special.
Indeed, it has all the attributes a niche magazine publisher craves: a strong sense of place, a lively and distinct business district and an array of arts and cultural venues.
Most of all, however, it has residents who care passionately. That fact was reinforced recently when I was asked to participate in a panel discussion sponsored by the Winter Park Voice, an extraordinarily comprehensive online newspaper published by Tom Childers and funded by private donations.
The panel — which including Beth Kassab of the Orlando Sentinel and Mike McLeod of Orlando Life (our sister publication) — was asked to discuss issues facing Winter Park, and ways in which the community could protect and enhance its unique character.
The evening of the gathering, the parking lot at the Winter Park Country Club was so full that I assumed another event — perhaps a large wedding — was taking place concurrently.
Much to my surprise, though, hundreds of people had turned out for the discussion — and it was a lively one, particularly when the floor was open to questions and comments.
Let’s face it. Such an event wouldn’t have drawn flies in many other Central Florida communities. But in Winter Park, it doesn’t take a single egregious issue to rally the troops. Just a civil discussion about a wide range of issues is enough to draw a smart, informed and engaged crowd.
It reminded me of the town meetings that were once integral to governing in New England. Given Winter Park’s genesis as a warm-weather oasis for Northeasterners, I could only imagine that the city’s founding fathers and mothers would have felt right at home. I know I did.