Monday, May 5, 2008

hardman, york create resident-driven district 4 wiki

WHAT'S UP THE PIKE: Movie reviewer calls dystopian thriller Blade Runner a "commentary" on Downtown Silver Spring redevelopment.

Seeking to bring District 4 residents together, Eileena York of the East County civic group Citizens Involved and former County Council candidate Thomas Hardman have created a wiki, or user-generated website, to discuss major issues affecting the area.

"I'm trying to bring people together in a way they can speak to each other," says York, a Burtonsville resident. "It's not a political forum and it's not a structural forum."

The website, at, runs on the same software as Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, and can be edited by anyone. Although it currently has one page, York and Hardman hope to expand it - and encourage other residents to log on - through monthly meetings held throughout District 4, which stretches from Four Corners and Burtonsville in the east to Glenmont and Derwood in the west.

York is hopeful that the wiki will bring people across the sprawling district together. "Maybe by doing this it'll be more effective, I don't know," she says. "I just think there needs to be more cohesiveness in our district."

One of the site's main goals is to provide the new District 4 County Council representative - voters will choose between Democrat Don Praisner and Republican Mark Fennel May 13 - with a list of their constituents' wants and needs each month. It will not only advocate for the district but could also help find individuals willing to run for County Council in 2010.

"If someone's going to actively champion our causes in District 4 they're not gonna pop up at campaign time," says York.

The first meeting for the website will be held at 7:30 pm Thursday, June 5 in the Burtonsville Long and Foster office. Future meetings may be held in Northwood and Aspen Hill; Hardman and York would like to have them in a different community each month.


Thomas Hardman said...

The general idea is that anyone can edit the wiki. However, the initial structure is meant to invite each specific community or neighborhood's representative organizations to develop their own little section. Ideally this will happen in a way that will raise awareness... not about their own issues -- they already know that -- but about how everyone else's issues relates to their own concerns.

For example: I recently attended a meeting of the Burtonsville Business Association.

Somehow we got onto the issue of the Montrose Parkway West and how it provides a direct route from Aspen Hill to I-270, but the design specifically makes it almost impossible to get on or off of it from Aspen Hill. Ostensibly this is to prevent "cut through" traffic. Yet we don't want to suffer the same fate as Burtonsville, which evidently is losing business due to the improvements in the intersection of MD-198 and US-29.

We got into a discussion about how Burtonsville could really use some of the money intended for the Montrose Parkway West, to improve the accessibility to Burtonsville's business district. Also arising into the discussion was the fact that some of the people in the Northwood/Four-Corners community didn't want the County to spend money on turning a nice semi-natural park-like space into a soccer field complex, and as far as they were concerned, that money would be better spent in Burtonsville.

The point was this: if, during the campaign, Eileena York hadn't had to do some heavy consultation with the Northwood/Four-Corners folks due to a scheduling conflict in the campaign, she wouldn't know about their "excess and undesired funding" nor would they know about Burtonsville's need for just about that exact amount of money. This exchange of ideas enables both neighborhoods to work together to approach the Council and declare that neither of their oxen will be gored, as it were, if Burtonsville gets the money for what it wants, and Northwood/Four-Corners does not get the money for what it does not want. The only way the two neighborhoods both lose is if the Council spends taxpayer dollars in the wrong place. This should be for the neighborhoods to decide or at least both of them should be able to influence Council decisions, by working together to find solutions which are agreeable to all concerned.

But we can't do this unless we are all aware of each other's neighborhood issues and concerns. Simply stated, perhaps the County has for too long been effectively pursuing a strategy of "divide and conquer", and we the divided are starting to catch on to this. We haven't had enough representation specifically for District 4; effectively we've only had at-large representation and we all know that the at-large representatives are mostly concerned with the high-dollar parts of the county and in business development. What about us?

Divided, we are reduced to a babbling crowd without any real cohesion other than through the party system, which seems mostly to exist to provide pacification and micromanagement of the citizens, rather than doing what the citizens want. Divided, we are conquered, and get to fighting among ourselves while waiting for the County to throw a bone to the people of forgotten District Four.

I hope that people will stop by and learn to use the Wiki, it's as easy to use as this blog. And I hope people will stop by to help flesh out information about their own communities. I can only do so much and I have bitten off all I can chew to develop the Aspen Hill section there.

And Dan... I have gone ahead and made all of the many links show up as "bold" rather than as just a darker blue. It's not just one page... and hopefully soon it will be a lot more. Maybe someone from Fairland or White Oak or Kemp Mill will come along and populate their neighborhood's online niche.

Now, I have to head back to being overly obsessive about the wikification of AspenHillNet.Net where I am going hog-wild about indexing all of the retail space (Retail, Mall, Occupied v. Retail, Detached, Vacant) etc.

Anonymous said...

Don Praisner's ducking Channel 21's debate tonight. If there is any event that is important to the votersof District 4, that is it. The highly educated people here would like to see a debate between the two would-be candidates. If he ducks debate with his opponent, he will duck his constituents too.

Anonymous said...

Praisner wouldn't take to JUSTUPTHEPIKE until the blog said it was sorry for having written that the county government was on a Marilyn Praisner naming spree. Now he won't debate his May 13 opponent, Mark Fennel. Praisner wants to control the speech the voters hear. If he can't stand the heat, he should get out of the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

There was a debate between Praisner and Fennel....see channel 16

Anonymous said...

Praisner won't say why he dicked the Channel 21 debate that is a channel everyone watches. Nobody ever heard of 16.

Anonymous said...

What is so dang important about Channel 21 that some people keep moaning about? The viewership of both 16 and 21 could fit on one Ride On bus at the same time. Big deal. Local cable debates are like school talent shows with only the parents watching while the public is out grocery shopping or watching MASH reruns. Yawn.......