Berkeley’s next hyper-local news outlet is here, and it’s made by kids

These kids are delivering good news and fostering community in the “DelCalMcGee” neighborhood just when people need it most.

A new North Berkeley newsletter made entirely by kids hit doorsteps in June. Now in its fifth edition, the “3 Cheers Newsletter” is circulating 60 copies and delivering a regular dose of upbeat, hyper-local news.

Its 9-year-old editor says the purpose of the 3 Cheers Newsletter (subtitled “Delaware, California and McGee Good News”) is to bring joy during a difficult time. “I like making people happy and I think it’s good to do this during corona because everyone’s social distancing,” said LuBuu Bouvet.

LuBuu was inspired by a pop-up newspaper made for kids in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights. LuBuu thought, ‘I can do that’ and the 3 Cheers Newsletter was born.

Lubuu’s mother, Stephani Bouvet, helped her create an email address, but she did the rest: she put out a call for submissions and started interviewing her neighbors, who live in the area bounded by Delaware Street, McGee Avenue and California Street in North Berkeley.

The newsletter’s latest edition includes advice on how to live a long life from Julie, a neighbor who just celebrated her 100th birthday (“Take it easy, eat good food & forgive”). There is the story of a neighbor’s acacia tree trimmings that ended up as food for giraffes at the Oakland Zoo, and one neighbor’s attempt to rescue a crow from being attacked by a pet cat. Each edition also includes book reviews and a crowd-favorite section titled, “Meet the animals of DelCalMcGee.”

Not only do the newsletters put smiles on the neighbors’ faces, they also weave the bonds of community at a time when people are yearning for connection.

Lubuu Bouvet (center) flanked by her parents Sean (left) and Stephani (right), holding up the third edition of the 3 Cheers Newsletter. July 29, 2020. Photo: Pete Rosos

“We’ve been able to connect with neighbors we didn’t necessarily know before,” Stephani said. “What makes a neighborhood strong is people knowing each other,” said Marice Ashe, a 22-year resident of the neighborhood, and this newsletter facilitates just that.

“The newsletter couldn’t have come at a better time. It was grown out of this time of disconnection.”
— Lj Cranmer

“The newsletter couldn’t have come at a better time. It was grown out of this time of disconnection,” said Lj Cranmer, whose Jack Russell terrier-poodle mix, Lovie, was featured in the newsletter. “I’ve lived here for almost 40 years and I don’t remember anything like this.”

The newsletter builds a sense of community by investigating the goings-on around town — not unlike Berkeleyside.

“It’s sort of similar to a Berkeleyside story. I’ll know something’s happening, and then I see this really nice story that explains the entire process and answers all my questions,” said Nate Johnson, father of Josephine Johnson who writes for the newsletter.

The newsletter represents a silver lining of sheltering in place. Stuck at home, everyone has started to pay more attention to their surroundings.

“We’ve all been forced to direct our attention to the things that are immediately around us. Instead of going off to camps and going on trips for the summer, they’re going across the street and having a socially distanced chat with their neighbor and finding out what they did as a kid and why they love their pet,” Johnson said.

Berkeleyside interviewed three of the newsletter’s senior writers: LuBuu (editor-in-chief), Lucas (age 9) and Josephine (age 8).

Why did you decide to create this newsletter?

LuBuu: I wanted to bring cheer and joy to the neighborhood.

Lucas: I think it’s a good thing to have good news in these hard times.

Josephine: Well, I had nothing else to do. I finished reading all my books and I had nothing to read.

What’s been your favorite part of working on the newsletter?

LuBuu: I like writing the articles and I like making people smile and I like writing funny stuff.

Lucas: My favorite part is getting to know what’s going on in the neighborhood, because I didn’t really notice before I joined the newsletter.

Have you gotten to know your neighbors better?

Josephine: A lot of times we know the person a little and go over and knock on their door. For instance, I might go over to Toby’s and say, “Hello, do you mind if I interview you about your cats?” Toby sometimes teaches us MahJong and Lj has bamboo in her yard and we take bamboo sticks and decorate them and call them wands. But it’s hard to get to know people during COVID.

LuBuu: We meet a lot of new neighbors because we pass it around to people and we interview people. We met a couple college students when they were graduating, too. I’ve gotten to know a neighbor who puts cards and mints and apples in her yard.

How do you find stories to write about?

Josephine: I mostly decide to write about whatever’s going on. I just try to come up with something. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s easy.

Lucas: Well I’ve learned that there’s a lot of action in the houses nearby. So I try to find out what’s going on around the block.