When I took on the Courier a few weeks ago, I had a lot of strategizing to do and decisions to make, in a very short space of time. Some of those decisions have proved more workable than others--for example, I should have just paid for a hosted domain right out of the gate instead of forwarding the domain name. Now I'll have to move the whole kit 'n' kaboodle pretty soon, hopefully in the middle of the night and really fast so you won't even notice.

But one of my decisions I do not regret and will not change. The new Winchendon Courier is and will remain a politics-free space.

I know, I know...if you know much about me, and some of you do, this seems downright perverse on my part. Me, not talk about politics? My own political views are...well, let's just say they're not mainstream.

But that's just the point.

The print version of the Courier died because not enough people in Winchendon thought it had enough to offer them. If this version is going to succeed, and especially succeed to the point where it can come back as a print edition, it has to have the broadest possible appeal.

And that means a minimum of opinions and a maximum of news. I want the Courier to be everyone's "one stop shopping" for anything they want to know in town. You won't have to follow two dozen Facebook pages, check out the town website and subscribe to news alerts. The Courier will do it for you. And when the Courier writes up events and news, there will be links and explanations and extra information--even if I have to do research to find them.

In the last few years I've seen politics and partisan issues drive this country apart. I've seen people unfriend and block people they agree with because those people won't stop ranting about politics on their Facebook pages and starting flamewars. I've seen groups break up and people stop speaking to each other. Everyone is exhausted by the arguments. It might be defensible if all the arguments solved anything. But they don't. Instead, they keep people from working together and finding solutions. Imagine people in a sinking lifeboat who refused to help bail out the boat unless everyone agreed to bail on the same side.

The views of Toy Town folks cover the entire political spectrum from one end to the other. Everyone holds the views they do for very personal reasons. I want the Courier to be a newspaper that brings the community together, because it focuses on what we all have in common: our history, our economy, our struggles, our schools, our institutions. Toy Town belongs to all of us. And so does the Courier.

Of course, if a candidate or legislator actually comes to Winchendon for a rally or town hall, the Courier will cover it. If Murdock High School students hold a vigil for climate change or #MeToo, the Courier will cover it. As news.

There are plenty of places for people to get their dose of political opinion, speculation and commentary on the national level. I'll be happy to recommend newspapers from stage right to stage left of the soapbox to anyone who asks for suggestions.

But note that I'm saying newspapers (print or online). The Courier does have one political drum to beat: turn off the TV and READ. It's too easy to be manipulated and fooled by the fast cuts and sound-bytes of slickly edited video. Turn off the TV, get your news from reading and you'll find that the world suddenly seems a lot less hyped up and stressful. You may even find that you're writing more yourself, instead of just posting memes on Facebook. And you'll be setting a great example for Toy Town young people.

Remember what they used to say? "See you in the funny papers."

Inanna Arthen