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By Miriam Raftery, Editor

Education leaders at ECM's holiday party (left to
right): Henri Migala, executive dean, Cuyamaca College, Alan Ridley,
Student Services Specialist, Cuyamaca College, Mary Kay Rosinski,
board member, Grossmont-Cuyamaca College District, and Doug Dean, education
chair, East County Chamber of Commerce with musician Gene Warren.

December 15, 2008 (La Mesa) — It was a leap
of faith to host a VIP holiday party as the upstart publisher in town.   Being
a big believer in the "if you build it, they will come" philosophy, however,
we didn't pause to worry about that nagging little fear: what if no VIPs
showed up? Fortunately, the result was quite the opposite! 

More than 70 VIP guests attended our holiday soiree, where dozens of
community leaders mixed and mingled with our writers, editors, webmaster,
donors and supporters.  It's amazing to think how far we've come
in just three months--attracting over 485,000 visits to our website and
now, a party guest list that reads like a Who's Who of East County!

Local luminaries present included Democratic and Republican elected
officials, business and labor leaders, Chamber of Commerce officials,
education leaders, officers of service clubs and charitable organizations,
environmental and alternative energy experts, the head of Common Cause
and the League of Women Voters, bloggers, doctors, lawyers, architects,
nonprofit directors, and the San Diego regional organizer for President-Elect
Barack Obama.  Wow.

Larry Urdahl, former Grossmont Union High School
Board member, with his
wife, Rose
Lemon Grove Councilman-elect George Gastil and Assemblyman Joel Anderson.
Obama regional co-coordinator Marsha Johnston and Glad Earth
representative Martha Sullivan celebrate the season.
Wade Vernon, Performwall, Dan Ortiz, United Auto Workers
(UAW), Alan Ridley, Student Services Specialist, Cuyamaca College, and Lee Mench, East County Biz Center

Our stellar guests savored wine-tasting compliments of Orfila Vineyards, an
array of delicious food including pasta provided by Bistro D' Vine, and live
music by talented guitarist/singer Gene Warren.  We also had some great
door prizes, such as a gift certificate donated by Gio's Wine Bar & Bistro,
wine bottles and also a bottle of Ethos, a fuel additive to boost mileage donated
by Alan Ridley.

At the event, we also announced kick-off of a fundraising campaign to sustain
our new media outlet--and help us expand to include (drum roll, please) East
County Magazine TV!  

Democratic Regional Director Steve Rivera and former Congressional
candidate Francine Busby
Howard Bagley, Friends of East County Arts Association, center, chats
with guests at buffet dinner table
Indian Voices editor Rose Davis and her granddaughter ECM editors Jamie Reno and Miriam Raftery with webmaster
Zakiya Khabir.

We appreciate the tremendous outpouring of community support in terms of content,
writing, volunteers, and great ideas--but we also need donations to cover our
expanding operating expenses and upgrades needed for our fast-growing website.
We especially appreciate monthly sustaining donations, so we can budget for
the future.  If each of our subscribers and readers could pledge even
$25 per quarter--less than $9 per month-- we'd have plenty to tide us through
the coming year.  (To give a holiday gift that supports independent media
for our community,  just click the "donate" button at the top of our site
and choose the East County Magazine option from our publisher's list.)

Election lawyer Ken Karan and playwright Walt Meyer Jane Moore, El Cajon Community Development Corporation, and Drum Macomber,
El Cajon Citizen of the Year
Vines & Steins columnist Richard Noel with Orfila Vineyards
Barbara Metz and Hector Torres.
Valerie Harrison, president, Rancho San Diego-Jamul Chamber
of Commerce, with husband Joel Harrison and Alan Ridley, student services
director, Cuyamaca College

There are other ways you can help "be the media" for our region.  If
you can volunteer to help us with writing, research or office work, please
send me an e-mail at  If
you'd like to become a sponsor or advertiser, contact  Or
call (619)698-7617.  We also appreciate trade-outs of services in exchange
for ad space in our widely-read publication. 

What's next for East County Magazine?  Our vision for the future includes
hosting a citizen journalist training seminar,  student writer programs,
a public access television program, and if all goes well, an appreciation party
for our readers. 

Meanwhile, happy holidays!