I was happy. For some deeply mystifying reason I established the number 500 as success, and I felt delighted throughout the year when we achieved 390 hits several times. And yet, I held onto that arbitrary 500 number as a goal. When the magical 508 number appeared, I was delighted. But slowly, I started asking questions: What does 500 matter? What does it say or mean? Actually, as my scruples took hold of me, the answer came back, “not much.”
Last year I wanted to create a Writers’ Workshop class that brought in a lot of traffic to its website, and one that helped students attain higher writing assessment scores. It took both of these accomplishments to make me realize that my “lofty” goals listed to the superficial side.
I want hawknews to be relevant. I want it to be a voice for my students, and a gathering place for all of those people whose hearts seek to connect with our community and its writers. I want it to be a place where our emerging student writers take chances, develop confidence, and more than anything else – find their voice. To see my students sneaking to the hawknews.org website when they really should be working on a class assignment, now that’s relevance – that’s success.
Our website should celebrate the “endless variety” of life here in the Copper Basin. It should tell the amazing stories of the people who live here, the adventures they have, and the events that are important in their lives. It should be a place where Spencer Jones, who is stationed in Afghanistan, can go to find “encouragement.” It should be a place where Sami Knutson, while attending school in Australia, can go to stay in touch with her sisters. It should be like a warm campfire on a cold night, a place where families can celebrate our unique way of life in a wild place that many in the Lower 48 can’t even imagine.
On an average day we get over 120 hits. That seems pretty steady these days. I am encouraged that so many people have taken an interest in our students’ creative work. If we have a mission statement it is this: “Our website will mean something special to our student writers and their readers.” That’s our guiding vision, and we’ll just let the numbers take care of themselves.