Dear Red Bank and the Greater Green,

If it’s any indication of the sincerity of what you’re about to read, I’ve significantly suppressed that initial pop-up on our website. Subscribers are exceptionally important to redbankgreen, but I also know that as a long-time subscriber myself, it was kind of annoying to ask on every page load.

My name is Kenny Katzgrau — resident of South Street since 2011, and wannabe resident since my first parentally-unauthorized bike ride to Broad Street in middle school: a hair-raising adventure down Newman Springs Road.

I live here, started my business here, started a family here (that’s me with my boys, above), and will probably stay forever. And now I’m the second person behind redbankgreen.

Red Bank is special. It’s magical. It’s authentic. And it’s fun.

And one of the things that reflects that, and our story together, is redbankgreen.

redbankgreen, many would agree, is a gem. We don’t want to lose a gem.

What others may take for granted is, in fact, the work of a tireless founder by the name of John T. Ward. He’s kept this thing running out of a pure, unadulterated passion for what he believes in: the vitality of Red Bank and the importance of having our community on the same page factually about what’s taking place in and around it.

I happen to (strongly) believe in the value of that too. But I know — from bootstrapping a business and growing it to 10+ employees, that doing it alone is difficult. Those two reasons are why I’ve purchased ownership in redbankgreen. John and I are now partners. I’ll manage the business and he’ll manage the journalism.

. . .

Many of us probably don’t know that there are John Wards all over this country (and the world). They are local new entrepreneurs who have set out to fill in where traditional news has faded away.

Many are a decade or more into existence, and guess what — they’re still solopreneurs. They are journalists who are learning how to build a business on the fly, which any small business owner can appreciate the difficulty of. And some of them are running out of gas.

I believe that the future of community information will depend on these small, passionate publishers.

Many of you know of the Red Bank Register (1878 – 1991) and what it meant to the community and surrounding area. If we want that again, we must figure out how the little guys can grow.

So I’ve got two primary aims:

  1. For Red Bank, build this thing to last for 100 years, and stand like the Register once did. redbankgreen is ours to keep. Read the 100 Year Vision here.
  2. Help refine the business model so that news entrepreneurs everywhere, and their communities, will benefit. As far as I’m concerned, Red Bank will be the hyperlocal news equivalent to Edison’s Menlo Park.

These are substantial goals. They’re deliberate uses of my finite time in this life. This matters, and is therefore worth as much time as it takes — and I think we can have fun with it too, which is just as important.

You’re witnessing something positive; for us, and the world around us. Thank you for being a part of our story so far. Let’s make it a good one.

Moving forward. We’ve clearly got some work to do on the website, and a restoration is in order.

We’ll be reworking what partnering with redbankgreen looks like for small businesses — who are a part of the story and community like the rest of us.

And speaking of stories, we’ll be thinking very seriously about how we can help you share your own stories — of your achievements, celebrations, and announcements.

As for some minor but immediate housekeeping. We’ve already:

  • Relaxed the signup popup
  • Removed the ads at the top of the comment section
  • After much discussion, opened up the comments to all once again — by default, allowing new commenters who are using their real names, but maintaining an approval process for commenters to gain “trusted” status

There are more to come, but those are improvements we can make now while working on the bigger ones.

Again, thank you Red Bank and the Greater Green — and thank to our subscribers. We’ve got something good here, so let’s keep it going.

If you have thoughts and suggestions, please drop them in the comments. Thank you for the thoughtful ones in advance, but as always, I’ll probably find the snide and sarcastic ones entertaining too.