“The gift of giving” is a common refrain around the holidays, but local paper editor Jerry Rothstein, 71, adheres to the concept year-round in interesting, engrossing and replicable ways.
While he hasn’t always been an editor, Mr. Rothstein has been heavily involved in community development for most of his life. After getting his masters in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Rothstein moved north to Canada where he would spend over 25 years in hospice care. The work was incredibly hard, helping patients become comfortable and assisting with the family’s grief. To spend decades in such an emotionally-demanding field seems beyond generous, but Mr. Rothstein did not see it that way. To him, the feeling of giving back and doing something important for the community far outweighed any hardships endured during the process. A career in hospice care instilled in Mr. Rothstein a sense of the importance of giving back to the community and what can be gained from doing so.
Mr. Rothstein carried this belief with him when family circumstances brought him at the age of 64 to St. Paul, Minnesota in 2004, and the funding for the project he was working on remotely for Health Canada was cancelled. When he found out there was an opening for the editor position of his community’s local paper, The Community Reporter, Mr. Rothstein knew he could contribute to St. Paul’s West End neighborhoods in a meaningful way. In his time as editor, Mr. Rothstein says he has turned The Community Reporter into a “community of reporters.” Central to this philosophy was bringing in columnists in categories relevant to the community, such as arts and culture, spiritual life, gardening and health. Mr. Rothstein and the rest of The Community Reporter staff have also made sure to form valuable partnerships with local organizations, further integrating the paper as a useful tool for the community.
Just like when Mr. Rothstein received as much as he gave to the hospice centers he worked at, working for the newspaper has been no different. In addition to the priceless feeling of belonging to his new hometown, he also became heavily involved in several local boards like the West 7th Business Association. Sitting on these boards provides Mr. Rothstein an even greater insight into the community and an excellent opportunity to gather material for the paper. The editor position has also exposed Mr. Rothstein to the potential of social media, giving him a keen interest in what might be accomplished with them. Mr. Rothstein has fully committed to the newspaper and his community and is now reaping the many benefits.
When he is not recruiting West End residents for the newspaper and empowering them to be part of the community, he is setting up his Gestalt Learning Program. Gestalt psychology, which emphasizes the integration of different components to form a whole, has been an interest of Mr. Rothstein since his Berkeley days. Now afforded the luxury of time, he wants to use this interest to aid those in his community whom he can help. The little time he has left over between his newspaper work and Gestalt work he devotes to writing—he is working on a book of philosophy and a book of poetry at present.
Mr. Rothstein has found there is no shortage of satisfaction that can be found from volunteering and helping the community. He encourages others to get involved in their communities, arguing volunteers feel better and live healthier. He said, “Volunteer for a while and soon a light bulb will go on, and you’ll ask, who’s getting more, them or me?” For Mr. Rothstein, there’s only one right answer.
Monday, December 5, 2011 at 10:09AM
Written By: Adam Gallagher