Much Ado About Blogging 2010
Time to revist this topic based upon some current events and recent past events I would like to share.
I am active in the community. Call me a municipal meddler, community activist, or interested resident –to an extent, it’s all one and the same. I have been at this game a few years and have come across all sorts of people on different sides of issues I am involved with.
One issue I am involved in is the fight to keep billboards out of our suburban communities. I hate billboards. Always have. I think they are ugly, and in the age of digital everything and the onset of now digital billboards, I dislike them even more. Four states actually agree with me – Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont. I have read that two other states, Rhode Island and Oregon have prohibited the construction of new billboards.
Because I don’t like billboards I have become a target of the lawyer whose client wants to put billboards all over Delaware County and even in the Bryn Mawr section of Haverford Township, a pebble’s toss from Lower Merion Township. This lawyer and their same client also have a dispute brewing over the legality of a billboard in the Bryn Mawr section of Lower Merion Township at the five points intersection.
This lawyer has seemingly made it his mission to single me out for exercising my first amendment rights. Because that is all I have done – said again, and again, and again that I hate billboards that loom over communties filled with GIANT ads of whatever and everything imaginable. The irony is part of the argument offered by this lawyer in favor of these billboards is that it is his client’s first amendment right to erect giant billboards to loom over our communities, and small suburban business districts.
I am not part of some giant conspiracy theory, and as the billboard case in Lower Merion specifically has proceeded, this lawyer has deliberately and inappropriately linked my name when making his case, as if I am his case.
Move to more locally. I think institutions basically don’t give a crap about their residential neighbors. We have seen it time and again in Lower Merion, Haverford, and Radnor Townships when medical and educational institutions seek to expand their giant footprints.
Or in the case of Bryn Mawr with Bryn Mawr Hospital – the hospital just ate up part of the town of Bryn Mawr as a snack and now it’s the bumpy and ridged road hospital zone – no new medical buildings, but they are a whiz at surface parking lots and monster garages. We lost neighbors and the sounds of kids playing for nice impersonal macadam and concrete. To add insult to injury there? Taxpayers in two municipalities funded intersection improvements that the hospital needed in their conditions of approval, didn’t they?
One of the largest problems with these institutions is they never have sufficient parking. So the overflow ends up on the streets of small neighborhoods. Which leads us to academic institutions.
The schools are another cup of tea. There is always a gotcha angle lurking and a lack of accountability. Even when it comes to students off campus – and for that in particular – I will mention Tredyffrin because of the people who live in Mt. Pleasant and had to deal with so much unpleasantness and intimidation to take back their streets in a reasonable manner from off campus student housing – and of course who knows if it is really any better or they are just tired of having to step up.
I live with an academic institution as a neighbor. When I first started on my quest along with several neighbors to get the school to realize that they had to STOP treating us as their parking lot, I tried the traditional way: calling the school, etc. I got nothing. We all got nothing. When we wrote letters to the editors over the years the headmaster would respond with glowing twaddleriffic tomes of the good deeds the school did and the scholarship students they allowed into the hallowed halls.
Uhhh, sir, don’t think it’s the boys on scholarship driving the $45,000 SUV to school that blocked that neighbor’s driveway.
So we kept at it. And I use ” we”, because although the perception it is all me, it is in fact not. Other neighbors complain. We soon discovered that the largest issue was proof of issue – so photos started being taken on our streets. By me and by others. A few photos I have actually come from an alumnus of the school.
The streets are public, it’s where we live,and like neighbors near other academic institutions who have had to do this – we need to show people what it’s like in order for them to get it. The lack of parking where this institution is concerned has forced neighborhoods in two townships to go to zoned and permit parking wherever possible. Still, it is a work in progress. To them we always be just a place for cell phone mommies to speed through and a place for them to park.
And it’s damn annoying whenever we finally think we are getting on a more level footing and a peaceful coexistence and the institution stirs it up again.
One of the only thing that consistently makes a dent when dealing with problem children institutional neighbors is documentation. Blogging is a form of documention. But the blogging then, incorrectly, becomes the issue. The institutions don’t get that if things were more consistent, there would be no blogging because there would be no issues.
And now to local politics: they hate blogging the most. You don’t even have to do a political lampoon and they hate it. And at the end of the day what is political blogging? On local levels it is opinion and discussion of issues. And if the politicians are doing something which bothers people, they get thrown into the mix.
Seriously, how messed up is it to have them culling my friends and chatting them up about ME? I am not the problem. I am not the elected official – and why is it their opinions are fine and other opinions aren’t O.K.? Oh right, because if you don’t agree with them they can’t handle it. Welcome to Sheepleville is what they would prefer, but a lot of us simply don’t see it that way.
Of course my other reward for being outspoken is when the trolls pop up on the newspaper sites. It always amuses me that they expect me to suck it up yet they holler holy hell if I put the Dali Reed in a photo shop (for example).
I know this website is monitored by several municipalities. I am not the dragon queen of local blogging. I am but one voice among many up here, and it seems to me sites like this perform a public service, because you know where the pulse of some of the public is. But no, you would rather have “politics without the poison” and whatever other flash in the pan websites supporters can cook up here and there.
Yet where does everyone come? Right here.
Blogging is like an ever changing "Letter to the Editor" for the Internet age. Blogs give people a chance to voice their opinions however they see fit. Basically, you go to the web and you will find blogs on all sorts of topics.
Political blogging is now as common as opening that newspaper or turning on the T.V. or radio. This website didn't invent the wheel on that, only added to the conversation.
Grassroots activists all over use blogs to get the word out. This website didn't invent the wheel on that, only added to the conversation.
Does the conversation get salty sometimes? Yes. Does it get too salty? No, that is why we have a webmaster.
How do people blog? However they are most comfortable. Some folks post under their own names, some post under "handles". We have some funny, funny handles – we are I think thr only blog with it’s own chicken sandwich.
How many pseudonyms did Benjamin Franklin have? Or Tom Paine? Or John Adams? Then there is Samuel Clemens, oops I mean Mark Twain. (You know "lies, damn lies and statistics"?) Seriously, throughout history how many male and female writers have written under pseudonyms?
So what do you all think? Do you like discussing development issues, community issues and political issues? Do you think this website and blogs contained herein are fun and informative?
You know what I think? I think forums like this are a great resource, and if not for anything else, because of the state of the media. Our newspapers can't and don't cover issues comprehensively and often due to a lack of manpower are forced to overlook what is important to us.
And again, I believe in the First Amendment. It is a right our founding fathers fought hard for. And if government doesn't listen, this is a way to encourage them to do so. Government might not like all opinions, but you know what? That is what is great about this country: they don't have to and that is o.k.
How do all of you feel about back door tactics that try to silence community voices? Occasional goonish tactics don’t sit well with me because I think the objective is to intimidate myself and others from speaking out and asking questions about issues which affect us in our communities. These are out communities. This is where we live, work, and so on. Ask questions, speak out, speak up. It is your right as a resident and as an American.
I encourage all of you out there to get up here and join the conversation. Add events to our events calendar. Let us know what is up in your neck of the woods. But if you choose NOT to join the conversation, hey that's cool. The internet and blogs aren't for everyone....
Here's the 411: this is not a government run or dictated website, but it is community driven. I feel that there is more than enough room up here for lots of voices and personally, that is why I like this site. I feel this website is the epitomy of grassroots and community.
No Pravda here.
Cheers to you local bloggers!