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THANK YOU FOR STORY ON SHOOTING OF ZACH TIPTON

'He was a good man with a good heart, and you really did this story justice.'

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I wanted to thank you for the story you wrote regarding the shooting of Zach Tipton [Cover Story, “Die to Ride,” Derek Kinner, July 16]. Thank you for the research, thank you for the time, thank you for keeping this in the public eye. I knew Zach for 20 years, his kids used to come to my house every day. He looked out for my kids, and his wife is one of my best friends. He wasn’t an instigator, at least not that I ever witnessed. He was a good man with a good heart, and you really did this story justice. I know it couldn’t have been easy, because my sense is that there is some stonewalling going on. But job well done, very well done.

Shannon Malcom

Stop It. You’re Making Us Blush

I feel guilty, Folio Weekly, and here’s why: I pick up your paper for free. Your paper is consistently better than other papers I’d have to pay to read. If it runs out at one stack, you’ve got enough of them in my path around town that I can find another. Though lately, I’ve got to be quick because it seems your readership is rising. And every time I read it, I think, “This feels too good to be free!”

You guys are reporting on what it’s actually like to live here. There isn’t a better local source to get a glimpse of the real scene. What we care about, where to go, what to do, what people want to talk about — in the flesh, without the shiny gloss of manipulation. You’ve accomplished authenticity and equality: It’s pretty awesome that your pages are just as likely to include a city celebrity as they are an ordinary resident with equal doses of the suit-and-tie-serious as the did-they-really-say-that weird.

I recently noticed I’ve been holding onto issues for reference. The Outdoors Issue [Feb. 26] is a great case-in-point. It fed two of my priorities: I like to play outside and I want to raise my kids with a sense of place. I’ve got the same Internet that everyone else has, but then you went and curated all these great lists. You made it easy! Even living here most of my life, there are plenty of places I’ve never tried. Fortieth birthday SUP class at Black Creek Outfitters? That happened! And, it was awesome, despite the rain! Jeffrey Billman’s humble paddle-with-training-wheels story helped with the fear factor and made booking easy. My ladies thank you.

But damn, the Field Guide [July 9] takes the cake. Yes, more great lists to reference. It’s also so much more. I actually got goose bumps reading it. While it’s been valuable to see that people are realizing Jacksonville has had an identity crisis, and as a city we need cohesive “known-fors,” the conversation can’t stay there. Like any massive, cumbersome problem, the solution is in breaking it down into steps. Was that your intention? Because I’d say you accomplished a brilliant celebration of our distinctive neighborhoods. As I read it, I felt gratitude for what we have — which is really something for everybody. And while I covet connection and change that really embraces this city’s potential, especially with transportation, attitudes and greenspace, the Field Guide was revelatory in providing insight into the strong pieces we want to connect. Our neighborhoods are like diverse individuals who are ready to hold hands! (Keith Haring-love anyone? The imagery couldn’t be better!)

What you captured is that these pieces came into being over time, through ordinary people doing ordinary things on the streets and in the places where they lived their days. Homes built, businesses started, area favorites formed. Jacksonville is the sum of those parts. We wouldn’t be the same without each one, no matter how tempted we might be to amputate while we hone our desired image. We are not just the funky core, the tree-lined historical section, the oceanfront or the river marinas full of boats. We’re more than football, more than a mammoth city hall, and (thank God) more than the Town Center.

You could have easily focused only on the cool hipster spots where most of you play. You could have left the rest of us out. Instead, I think that no matter where one lives in the city, they’d feel proud and included in your Field Guide. You let us represent! What a fun, giant leap in loving where we live. So, thank you editors, writers, artists, photographers and citizen contributors. That was awesome.

Tia Levings, via folioweekly.com

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