Fruits of our labor

Now more than ever Hippo depends on your support to help fund our coverage. For almost 20 years Hippo has worked hard to provide high-quality news, information and coverage about the local food, music and arts scenes. We track down things to do and places to go — and it isn’t easy. Just putting together our weekly live music listing takes hours. The time and the expense required are why you won’t find a more comprehensive list of local live music anywhere else.

And we spend time digging into our stories about food, arts, the outdoors and nightlife as well. In this issue, our food reporter Matt Ingersoll talked to multiple bartenders and cocktail experts about the Moscow mule and its local popularity and variations (Matt uncovered the mule scene!). We’re also introducing a new column called Drinking With John Fladd this week by longtime Hippo veteran John Fladd. Don’t get the wrong idea. We’re about more than drinking. We’re about covering the creativity — in cocktails and food and beyond — that makes southern New Hampshire unique. Local craft, local creativity — that’s the heart of Matt’s story. Who else covers that week after week?

Though we’ve been fortunate over the years to be supported by local advertisers (and, thankfully, continue to be), the pandemic has severely restricted the amount of advertising. This means that without your support we won’t be able to continue to cover southern New Hampshire arts, food, music and events like we have in the past. Hippo needs your support.

Hippo keeps you informed with entertaining, thoughtful offerings from our veteran and award winning writers including Amy Diaz, Michael Witthaus, Eric Saeger, Matt Ingersoll, Angie Sykeny, Lisa Parsons, Meghan Siegler, Dave Long, Jeff Mucciarone, Jennifer Graham, Henry Homeyer and Michele Kuegler. The writers you love or love to argue with (Dave Long’s loyal readers have many opinions about his opinions).

Hippo answers that vexing question of what to do and where to go (yes, even now). We need your help to do that.

Please consider supporting our local food, music, arts, pop culture and news coverage by becoming a sustaining member. Our staff is hard at work making your contributions count. Thank you and we are truly grateful for your support.

Go to hipppopress.com to contribute online. If you prefer to send a check please do, to: HippoPress, 195 McGregor St., Suite 325, Manchester, NH 03102.

Granite Views: Hippo’s Best of 2020

We’re very happy and a bit relieved to present Hippo’s Best of 2020 in this week’s issue. It’s been a long time coming.

Readers voted in our annual poll back in February (you know, “BC,” Before Covid) and we planned to publish the results in the March 26 issue, but with the shutdown of most businesses, schools and everything else, we worried that the list would be very unhelpful. Here’s a list of things you can’t do! So we held off until we had a bit more confidence that things would be opening back up. And here we are — opening back up (for the most part).

The Best of has always been a celebration of what makes southern New Hampshire different from other parts of the country. It’s the things you like the best about your community — the people, parks, community activities, restaurants, cafes and small businesses. It’s been a guide by our readers, for our readers.

The people, places and things that we ask readers to vote on are a part of the arts, entertainment and quality of life here that we strive to cover in each issue. And while we are proud to present those issues to you in this free newsweekly, the Hippo is not free to publish. Since our founding nearly 20 years ago, local advertising support has provided us with the revenue to publish a quality free paper. Not so much anymore. And now, we’re asking for your help.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member to help us to continue providing this coverage. We want to continue to give you the information that can help you make the most of living here, and we need you to pitch in. We want to keep offering you live music listings, updates on the comedy scene, a look at new art exhibits, a peek at theatrical productions, interviews with local authors and ideas for your weekend hikes. To do that, we need your financial support. Help us continue our mission of strong local coverage so we can help you make the most of your next meal or your weekend plans.

Please consider supporting us by becoming an annual member. All members will get exclusive access to Hippo’s online articles and archives, exclusive content, Hippo deals (when available) and a bumper sticker.

Contributions can be made online at hippopress.com.

Thank you for voting in the Best of 2020 poll and sharing your favorites, and thank you for continuing to support the Hippo.

A compromising compromise

Most New Hampshire public school districts are expected to go to a hybrid school model in the fall. This will mean kids go to school for a few days a week in smaller groups. When not in school, those kids will be remote learning.

It’s a compromise intended to reduce potential transmission of Covid-19 by reducing the contact kids have with each other and staff while acknowledging that remote learning has its limitations. In most districts, class sizes will be limited so kids can sit six feet apart.

Though I’m sure it’s well-intentioned, I wonder if this hybrid plan is actually counterproductive.

The challenge here more than anything else is the logistics of caring for kids and reducing potential transmission.

First there is the issue of getting these kids to school. How many kids will be allowed on buses? How do we make sure the kids wear masks? Do we have the buses and drivers to do that in a way that won’t completely undo the measure being taken to reduce class size?

Once at school, can we reasonably expect kids to socially distance themselves? It sounds as if recess and other activities like that could be eliminated or curtailed. What impact will that have on learning?

After all that, kids will still be expected to be remote learning for two to three days a week. Who is going to be at home with them to keep them on task and to watch over the younger ones? As more parents go back to work, will caregivers be friends, grandparents, day cares or a patchwork of those? Will these kids be exposed to even more people thereby increasing their exposure to Covid? If parents have to stay home, who is going to pay them?

On top of all that, women, in many cases, will end up being the primary caregivers for kids’ remote learning. What is the impact to them? Are we furthering the longtime earnings gap between men and women?

These are all issues greater than our public school districts, but federal and state governments have essentially laid all of these problems and concerns at their feet without giving those districts the resources to adequately deal with them.

As tough as it is, state and federal governments need to take an active role in helping districts make in-school learning as safe as possible for kids and staff. If this means extending the day, then do it. If this means putting more buses on the road, then do it. If this means bringing in more teachers, paying teachers for extended days or offering hazard pay, then do it. If this means bringing in portable classrooms then do it.

There are no easy solutions — no silver bullet. But with more assistance and coordination from state and federal governments schools (or other buildings turned into schools) could be made more safe. But we can’t expect public schools to solve this on their own.

Still stuff to celebrate

The last few months have been unprecedented — and rough. In addition to the immeasurable health effects of the pandemic on the lives of Granite Staters and the losses it has caused, we faced the sudden closing of major parts of our state with most residents stuck at home and hundreds of thousands of people here losing their jobs.

Now, with the stay at home order lifted, many businesses have reopened or are planning to reopen soon. Many people are heading back to work and many of the area’s restaurants, businesses, recreation areas and attractions are finding ways to operate (see 47 examples of this in this week’s cover story).

While life isn’t fully “back to normal” we thought it was time to recognize the people, places and things that make New Hampshire such a special place to live. That’s right, it’s Best of 2020 time. We plan to publish the Hippo Best of 2020 in August. But before we do, we’re going to hold a mini round of Hippo Best of 2020 voting to give some praise to the places that helped make the shutdown a little easier. These categories include: “Retail shop with standout service during the shutdown” and “Eatery whose takeout got you through the shutdown.” Go to hippopress.com to give some love to the restaurant that gave you a much-needed break from your kitchen or the store that helped you pick out something special for somebody who needed a lift to their day.

We held off on publishing the Hippo Best of 2020 in late March because many of the locations that readers chose as their favorites were closed and we didn’t know how long that would last. Hippo’s annual Best of is both an expression of what Hippo readers feel is interesting and worth sharing with everyone and a guide to independent businesses and events. One of the many frustrating things that happens online is that when you seek out local events, parks, attractions, restaurants and other businesses, the results are both not so local and not so accurate. No person has picked up the phone and called to see that those businesses are still operating (like we do at Hippo). And for some reason those algorithms think Waltham or Scituate, Mass., is local. I guess if you’re in Silicon Valley it is. But if you want to grab a burger or go on a walk it isn’t so much.

Now more than ever, it’s important to support the local attractions, businesses and museums that make our region an enjoyable place to live.

We further explore those favorites in our annual magazine, Cool Things About New Hampshire (due out in October 2020).

Thank you for taking the time to vote this year and continuing to support Hippo’s independent journalism.

Connect in real life

Facebook has been advertising how it creates community — how it brings people together. Dads can share dad stuff with other dads, like going to a baseball game with their kids. Or at least that’s what the ads say.
But there is also a darker side. According to recent reporting from the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is helping radicalize extremists and has known that its algorithms move people deeper down a radical rabbit hole. Facebook’s recommendation tools actually suggested more radical groups to join. According to the Journal, Facebook executives found that, in their words: “Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness.”
On top of that, a 2019 study by professors at New York University and Stanford demonstrated that people were happier and less polarized when they stayed off Facebook.
So what does this mean for us?
I would hope it would give us pause to put down the phone, close the app and engage in your community in real life. Yes, the pandemic has temporarily made it harder to get out and see people, but Facebook is right about one thing: We crave community, in a good way. We enjoy the company of others even if we don’t know them. So as soon as you feel it’s safe, engage in a conversation with a stranger. Join a service group, like Rotary, and enjoy the community it provides. Volunteer. Volunteer to be around people unlike yourself.
Let’s not let Facebook use our desire for connections as a way to suck us online, divide us and sell us stuff.

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