By Lauren Roberts
Editor in Chief

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” The Metro Times’ team exists to drive out darkness with light. You may have heard the old saying that, “bad news sells.” From my experience as the Editor in Chief, over the last eight months, I have found this to be wrong. Since we began seeking out the good news in the surrounding Metro Atlanta area, we have seen people come alive from the positivity in our pages.

The theme of this edition is community initiatives, and I believe our newspaper is just that. Neal Lange, a local insurance broker who was tired of picking up the paper and reading about death and DUI’s every month, started the Metro Times initially. He knew there was good news out there. So, he started a newspaper. That newspaper grew from the Olde Town Times and eMetro Times, and is now The Metro Times. We changed the name to reflect better the areas we serve which is the greater Metro Atlanta area.

I thought I would share a little of my story with our readers and a little more information about the vision of The Metro Times. When my family and I moved to Conyers, we came from a large community-based city in South Carolina. When we lived there, we always knew what was going on at all times because the city did a wonderful job with communicating through newspapers and social media. When we moved to Conyers, we didn’t know what was going on around town. One day, we planned on going to Atlanta and ended up stumbling upon AWAKE Coffee Co, a non-profit coffee shop in Olde Town Conyers. AWAKE is Community.

The Metro Times was given to AWAKE Communities International (ACI) back in November. At the time, I was serving on the Board of Directors for ACI along with my husband, and although the people involved with AWAKE had become like family, I was not exactly sure of my role in the organization. I was taking care of my 3-month-old daughter, when I got a text from Noelle (Founder of ACI) that said, “I have some ‘Good News,’ call me.” So, I gave her a call. She told me about the newspaper that was given to AWAKE. Then, she says, “God said this is your newspaper.” There I was, a mother of 2 young kids, wondering how in the world I would run a newspaper. I always had an interest in journalism, but it was not something I was pursuing. I had a Bachelors degree in Psychology. Thankfully, Jason Cosby (Co-Founder of AWAKE) had some experience working for a newspaper. He stepped in and is doing our design and we recruited my husband, Tyler Roberts to be a communicator with our Underwriters. We pulled on Adam Harper to deliver and distribute the newspapers. Together, we began this journey. We created a mission and a vision, and we went for it.

Before being involved with AWAKE, I had struggled with depression on and off for years, but after being healed of depression, I learned some fundamental truths about choosing joy. I learned about the importance of renewing your mind with truth. Every month, when my inbox is full of article submissions, I read through them and discern what will bring life to our community. If it isn’t filled with hope, I toss it. I use stories to tell everyone that there are no hopeless circumstances in life. My passion for psychology has kept me constantly in awe of our incredible brains. If we are filled with evidence-based hope, we thrive. My mission is to provide that hope to our readers every month. I thoroughly read every word and approve them for our pages.

I also desire to be a vehicle that promotes events, businesses and noteworthy news. The communities in the surrounding Metro Atlanta area have some incredible offerings. There are food truck rodeos, farm-fresh restaurants, free movies under the stars and farmers markets going on all around us. We desire to help families find fun things to do together to build stronger relationships. We want businesses to thrive because small businesses can help solve some problems in this world. We want to see people’s dreams come alive through businesses that create revenue.

We have chosen to look at advertising differently. We chose to use the term underwriters instead of advertisers. WeVeh ask businesses that wish to be promoted to look at it as supporting a community effort, not just holding a space in a publication. When they give their donation every month, they are supporting a community initiative and in turn, we put their business announcement in our paper. We choose to build partnerships and relationships with our underwriters and our community. Your donations are also tax deductible since we are a non-profit.

Recently, someone in Clarkston was introduced to one of my team members. She held up The Metro Times paper and began talking about how much life was coming out of that newspaper. She had no idea he was involved with The Metro Times. My team member then told her that he was involved with that newspaper and she proceeded to talk about how much she loved it. At this point, we didn’t even deliver newspapers to Clarkston but somehow, our papers reached there. By the way, if you are an underwriter or if you are thinking of supporting us, our newspapers are also in Clarkston. We have heard so many stories similar to this since we began. A lot of eyes are seeing this paper.

We hope that someone will pick up this newspaper and read something that gives them joy and life. We want to see Metro Atlanta thriving in their businesses and in their personal lives. We want someone to accidentally see this newspaper somewhere and open it up to find the answer they’re looking for. Whether that is an organization that offers free ultrasounds, a non-profit that helps families or a homeless shelter when they need a roof over their head. We want to help someone find what he or she is looking for. We want to be a hand-up when all you can see around you is darkness because as Dr. King stated, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.’ Sometimes life has a way of knocking us down and making us think our situations are hopeless. Sometimes, there’s a little flicker of a flame burning inside us that just needs to be breathed on so it can burn like wildfire again. We want our stories to be the breath that causes the fire to burn like crazy. I am walking proof that when you hold onto hope, your hope is restored. Freedom comes, and you can be made whole again. We live in a world that is begging for hope. This newspaper is committed to being a community initiative. We are committed to being a voice of light in our seemingly dark world.