LAST Saturday's lantern parade and associated festivities in Lismore were a resounding success. The decision to reverse the route and end in town meant that more people stuck around in the CBD at the conclusion of the parade, which was a bonus for businesses. The logistics of having the fiery finale in a car park meant that things had to be scaled down, but I thought making it more concise was better from a spectator's point of view. The live musical accompaniment from The Romaniacs was another new addition that really gave the finale a great energy this year.
Lismore was buzzing all evening and seeing so many smiling faces crammed into the streets and cheering as we walked past with our Echo frog was a real pleasure and a display of this community at its best.
To all the organisers, lantern makers and volunteers who made it such a success, well done.
This week we saw the first direct action against coal seam gas mining by this community. From Dave Ramsey's arrest last Wednesday morning for locking himself to a bulldozer, to the following Tuesday, hundreds of community activists have taken part in protests and vigils at Shannon Brook where Metgasco is digging new holding ponds for the storage of 'produced water'.
The State Government has banned the use of evaporation ponds for storing this by-product of the mining process and the activists have highlighted the fact that Metgasco doesn't seem to have a safe and satisfactory way of dealing with it. It has also highlighted the ludicrous semantics about what is and what is not an evaporation pond and the fact that the government seems unwilling to enforce its own laws.
Metgasco currently has around 40 pilot wells in the Casino region. If the company can't deal with the produced water from these, what is it going to do with the water from the hundreds or thousands of wells they are hoping to sink across the region?
I am going on holiday for the next two weeks, so our journalist Jennie Dell will be acting editor during that time. Jennie is no stranger to the chair; she was The Echo's first editor when the paper began way back in 1991.
During the time I am away there will be another change to our distribution.
Summerland Catalogues, which has been distributing The Echo into letterboxes for the past three years, will no longer do so after the next edition (July 5).
The changes mean that from July 12 home-delivered Echoes will be wrapped in plastic and thrown from a car, rather than having walkers put them into letterboxes.
In the current climate where major newspapers are shedding thousands of jobs and scaling back their operations, this is a decision made by the company to save money on distribution and ensure the future viability of the paper.
There will be no changes to editorial staffing and the business model for free community newspapers still looks pretty healthy compared to those of our big city cousins.
So, if in two weeks time you don't find your Echo in the letterbox, don't panic; have a look in the garden.