Peterborough Currents co-founder Ayesha Barmania pursues new opportunities

An update from publisher-editor Will Pearson
Ayesha Barmania making cookies at Mickaël’s Café Librarie in Omemee.

In 2017, I emailed Ayesha Barmania out of the blue. I’d never met them, but I wanted some advice with a podcast project I wanted to get off the ground, and I knew they could help me.

I never made the podcast. But I sure am glad I connected with Ayesha. Soon, the two of us were making a different podcast together: a grassroots, volunteer-run current affairs program for Peterborough. We called it Peterborough Currents. 

I believe we made about a dozen episodes before we started to lose steam and the frequency dropped off. I still need to dig up the archive and share the old episodes again; they were good!

In 2020, the pandemic hit and Ayesha and I decided to reinvent Peterborough Currents as a reader-funded independent news website. We would still make podcasts from time to time, but now our ambition was bigger. We wanted to fill in gaps in the local media ecosystem with in-depth and community-focused news, and we wanted to transition Peterborough Currents into a small business so that we could increase the quantity and quality of what we were making and create jobs for people, too.

Today, we’re accomplishing those goals — and we’re setting new ones!

But running Peterborough Currents has never been easy. The business is growing slowly, and it continues to require a significant amount of unpaid labour from us. Toward the end of last year, Ayesha and I both started thinking hard about whether Peterborough Currents was making us happy. We both went back and forth on that question a couple of times. But slowly, the answers began to crystallize. For me, it was yes. For Ayesha, it was no.

So we started a period of transition. And today, I’m pleased to share with you that Ayesha is happily baking bagels, pretzels and other delectables at Mickaël’s Café Librarie in Omemee. They have resigned as co-publisher and co-editor of Peterborough Currents, and I have taken on the role of publisher-editor. Brett Throop continues on as our part-time staff reporter. Ayesha and I remain co-owners of the business, with a 50% share each.

Ayesha brought a lot to Peterborough Currents while they were working here. I think my favourite story of theirs was this one, which foregrounded the perspectives of trans members of the Sport and Wellness Centre during the debates about gender neutral washrooms at the facility. Those debates were happening largely without the voices of trans people who used the facility, and I appreciated how Ayesha brought those voices forward.

But I think what I’ve appreciated most was Ayesha’s belief.

One example: When we did our first crowdfunding campaign in the summer of 2020, I was feeling nervous. I wanted to set a conservative goal of raising $5,000, so that we wouldn’t be seen to fail. Ayesha said no way — we’re going for $20,000. So that’s the goal we set, and we raised even more than that.

Ayesha consistently believed in Peterborough Currents — often more than I did. And they worked hard to realize their vision for the business. I believe Peterborough Currents would have folded already if it weren’t for them.

Today, I still feel nervous. But I also think a little bit of Ayesha’s belief has rubbed off on me, too.

So thanks to Ayesha for all they’ve done. And thanks to you, reader, for your belief in our little independent news outlet, as well.


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