By Trinity Laurino, LkldNow Community Engagement Director

If you’ve ever worked for months on something only to experience a critical failure of a single key component at the last minute, you will understand what Barry and I felt on Tuesday night . The failure: We could not get the incoming audio feed to connect to the livestream of our mayor’s candidate forum. It felt like jumping out of a plane, only to find your carefully packed parachute developed a large hole. Because we could see how many people were watching on our Facebook and YouTube streams, it felt like we were failing our community. And that was a terrible feeling.

My former boss — a wonderful man named Matt White who passed away last month — once told me that if I never failed at anything, it was a sure sign that I wasn’t taking enough risks — that I wasn’t “daring greatly” enough. 

From its inception, LkldNow has dared greatly, though I doubt Barry ever thought of it that way; he tends to focus on the community’s information needs rather than his legacy.  Barry founded this organization with the bold idea that a non-profit, digital newsroom could  provide quality, locally driven news to the community for free, and the community would in turn support it, upending a long-term business model.

As we’ve grown, with your support and your readership, we’ve continued to challenge ourselves to do more to cultivate civic participation in Lakeland because (and you’ll hear me say this a lot) we believe an informed citizenry will be an engaged citizenry. 

So we stepped out of our text-based comfort-zone and dared to deliver live candidate forums, but live streaming separate camera and audio feeds across multiple platforms isn’t a simple proposition. Even with a talented live-event producer and a sound engineer on hand, we had that critical sound failure. 

Ultimately, the best fix, in the moment, was to go live from my phone to the LkldNow Facebook page. Not what we planned but it got the content out there and that’s what matters. Since then, we have posted a more complete version with better audio here.

Yet it was in the moment of failing, when I most wanted to bury my head in my hands and cry, that I discovered just what it means to be a community-supported organization. People I hadn’t met before that night stepped forward with help and encouragement. In-person attendees held their phones up to stream as well, and one gentleman that night went above and beyond trying to find a technical fix.

This was a potent reminder that it takes a community to do what LkldNow does (especially on our shoe-string budget) and I want to thank our online audience for hanging in there and giving us a second chance last night for the City Commission forums.

Thank you to our in-person attendees and especially Jon Friedt. Thank you to our superb and unflappable moderator, Andrea Oliver, to the all the candidates for their participation, flexibility and patience, our volunteer timekeepers Doris Moore Bailey and Linda Bagley Wiggs, and to the team at Lkld Live: Kat, Micah, Parker and Chase who never gave up.  But mostly, I want to thank Barry for being willing to dare greatly and risk failure in order to better serve our community.