Community through Print

I grew up in Pomeroy, a small farming town in the far southeastern corner of Washington State. Back then the local newspaper, The East Washingtonian, featured a column titled “Along the Party Line.” It was all about births, trips, church events, crops, weddings, and reunions. All the good gossip from a small town. Reading it gave me a warm feeling and connected me to my community, even after I moved away.

Reading the national edition of The Budget, a Plain newspaper with the motto “Serving the Amish-Mennonite Communities throughout the Americas,” gives me that same warm feeling. Scribes contribute columns from their communities on a regular basis, relaying information about births, gatherings, the weather, crops, trips, and weddings. The majority of the news is happy, although deaths, accidents, and illnesses—as in life—make up a portion of the columns.

The 40+ page weekly newspaper lists the columns geographically from well-known settlements in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, but also from places as far away as Oregon and Washington State and even Belize.

There’s a rhythm to the columns that, even though I don’t know the people, is as familiar and comforting as news from my small town. It’s a reminder of what’s important in life—God, family, and friends. For those in the Plain communities, without the Internet and cell phones, it’s a vital source of information from faraway that fosters a sense of community throughout the western hemisphere.

The “Along the Party Line” column ended years ago so today I get my information about people from my hometown via Facebook. I’m thankful I can still witness that sense of community, in print, through The Budget.

Where do you find a sense of community today?

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Leslie Gould (33 Posts)

Leslie Gould is the award-winning author of fifteen novels, including the #1 bestseller and Christy Award winner "The Amish Midwife", co-written with Mindy Starns Clark. Her latest release is "Adoring Addie", a retelling of the “Romeo and Juliet,” the second in The Courtships of Lancaster County series. Leslie, her husband, Peter, and their four children live in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at Leslie received her master of fine arts in creative writing from Portland State University in 2009 and has taught fiction as an adjunct professor at Multnomah University. She, her husband, Peter, and their four children live in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at


  1. I LOVE the Budget, Leslie. It’s the Amish version of Facebook!

    I have community through friends at church and on-line blog friends who I meet in person!

  2. Susan Fryman says:

    Like you I love The Budget, though I don’t know the folks. I also subscribe to Ladies Journal and Cooking & Such. I get the same kind of feelings from those publications as well. Blessings, Susan Fryman

  3. I agree, The Budget is the Amish version of FB–it just has an end to it until the next one arrives. 🙂 I keep meaning to look into Ladies Journal it sounds good. I also subscribe to The Connection. It also has regular contributors–but not as many so it’s easier to feel as if are getting acquainted with them.

  4. I always loved reading The Budget. I used to spend hours poring over it and finding the communities where we knew people, hoping someone I knew was mentioned! I had a pen-pal, that I write for several years that I got from The Budget as well. The classifieds are a ton of fun as well.

  5. I’m sad to say I’ve never seen a copy of The Budget in person—just through hearsay. I live about 30 minutes away from Shipshewana, Indiana, though, and I’m betting someone there has a copy! Maybe I should ask . . . .

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