Editorial: Fourth (Estate) Friday

On the fourth Friday of every calendar month the newspaper invites Rappahannock residents and readers to join us for coffee and conversation. That’s tomorrow (Feb. 22) at 9 a.m. at Tula’s in Washington. Why the fourth Friday?

We decided on the fourth Friday as a play on words with “the Fourth Estate,” an old-fashioned reference to the news media. As Wikipedia explains, the Fourth Estate is a societal or political force or institution whose influence is not consistently or officially recognized. The first Three Estates are the clergy, the nobility and commoners – ranked by order of importance in the hierarchically conceived society of the Middle Ages. So we the press are last!

Last week’s editorial (“Forward on climate!”) called attention to homegrown environmental nonprofits here in the county: RappFLOW, the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection (RLEP) and the Rappahannock County Conservation Alliance (RCCA). But there are other worthwhile nonprofits here that merit continued news coverage by this, your community newspaper.

So the focus of this Fourth Friday will be Rappahannock’s nonprofits – and how the newspaper can best cover them and involve its readers in their activities.

The topic was suggested by Rappahannock’s William Dietel, who with his wife has not only has been an organizing force for community activities here in the county for many years, but has also spent most of his professional life in a nonprofit and foundation world much bigger than Rappahannock.

It might surprise all of us, including the people who put out this newspaper, at the size of the impact – well beyond the mission statements – of Rappahannock’s nonprofits: The numbers of people they employ, the amount of money and intellectual capital they bring to the local economy, the positive ripple effect they create in other ways . . .

See you on Friday!

Walter Nicklin