OP is growing up

OrangePolitics turns four on Thursday! Yes, we are walking, talking, and getting ready for pre-school. We're even potty-trained - quite proud of it too.

To celebrate, let's check out the brand-new Southern Rail, the bar/restaurant/beer garden housed at the old train station in downtown Carrboro. We'll meet at 5:30 on Friday (9/28) and stay for at least 2 hours. Candidates are especially welcome.

Also for our birthday, we're kicking off our first-ever fundraising drive!

Our last update was 3 years ago, and OP is seriously needing better identity management and improved community tools. I think drupal will be a good solution for us, and I hope to work with the good folks at Advantage Labs to make OP more useful and (and more stable) than ever.

The work will involve importing all of our posts and comments from WordPress to drupal, configuring our a new drupal system, and getting us set up on a new server. I will probably be able to create a new drupal "theme" to match what OP looks like myself, so we should not have to pay for that. I expect this work to cost at least $1,000 (not including monthly hosting fees), so I am setting that as our target.

Using drupal will allow us to have individual blogs for each registered and verified user of OP. That means no more hoping Ruby will approve your guest post and not knowing when it will be published. On the new site, you can post whatever you like, within some limits, and the community will vote on which entries go to the front page, similar to the way BlueNC.com and DailyKos.com are managed.

Please chip in, and ask your friends to support this effort so that OrangePolitics can be an even better progressive community resource!

Total votes: 136

Comments

Thanks - we have raised $45 from 2 people already! Y'all rock.

Woo hoo, we have now raised $220 from 5 people! (Don't know why the widget isn't updating. Grr.)

Good, looks like it's updating now. By the way, OP shares its birthday week with my husband and the mayor of Carrboro, so happy wishes to them and hopefully they can join us st Southern Rail on Friday!

Congrats to OP and Ruby!

Ruby, perhaps you could post the best way to contribute?

Thanks, Priscilla. The best way to donate is to click the big orange "ChipIn!" button above, or go to http://orangepolitics.chipin.com

A word of explanation (to show that at least on this I'm not a complete idiot) and a head's up for people using Firefox with various pop-up guards: with some, the "OP upgrade" box doesn't show up unless one clicks on the requisite icon to authorize seeing it (in my case the arrow to authorize a video, for some reason). So you wouldn't know the "chip in!" button was there.

Found it. Will act accordingly.

Oh, it's a flash widget so you have to have Flash installed and enabled in your browser. Sorry.

My son and I are learning the fine art of swashbuckling on Friday nights - we'll try to swing by afterwards.

Congratulations Ruby on changing grassroots politics in Orange County. OP allows folks to talk about issues amongst themselves, and learn from each other, in a new and powerful way. Good work!!

Wish I could be at the party, but I'll be out of town at a training.

Congrats, Ruby and OP!

Sorry I can't join you on Friday... I'll be at the Red Sea. (Poor me, right?)

I sent in $20.07 to commemorate the year.

Just in case we needed a reminder about why OP has to move... as soon as I left to celebrate a birthday dinner with my husband, the entire site went down!

When I got back home (20 minutes ago) our host was reporting that the server had gone down but everything was fine now. A quick e-mail to tech support reported that this was not the case. The proceeded to "flush the DNS" and all seems to be working now.

I am so sorry for the problems! I can't promise we won't have them with another web host, but we can hope...

Congratulations, Ruby! Orange Politics has been my local political orientation ever since I moved here three years ago. And spiffy new Southern Rail! I'll try to swing by before the theater. Can't donate today, but do look for a "birthday present" before the end of the week.

Hey, pony up y'all! Even just a few dollars. It takes two minutes. Only 14 contributors? Come on.

This site has been going on for 1,460 days, 1,171 posts, and 26,863 comments.

This site has broken news, provided the premier spot for discussion of the news, policy, and the future of our communities, and has helped make not just Orange County but the greater Orange County area seem more a contiguous place with common concerns. I know that I feel more connected to parts of this area, and to the communities of people living therein, than I would have. And I live in Pittsboro!

You should know how unusual this site is, even in this day of nearly universal Myspace and blog coverage. This is something more than a blog, it's a gathering place. After something of a wild and wooly start (and I'll admit to my own contribution to the wild, wooly, and uncivil stuff!), this site has evolved into a forum for complex, civil, and respectful discussion of our futures. It's a gem. Open your darn wallets! (I say that with love, of course. )

1,460 days, 1,171 posts, and 26,863 comments. Break open your piggy banks and let's get this thing going. And if you don't, I'm going to get myself one of those megaphone trucks and drive up and down Franklin Street running my own pledge drive incessantly. I swear, I'll run the pledge drive from hell. You have been warned. ; )

d

Duncan-
It may not be as bad as it looks-
The total has been 5 contributors and $220 for a few days despite, at the least, your contribution and mine since those totals...

Del, myabe you need to flush your cache, it's at $595 with 16 contributors

thanks

Thank you for the awesome pitch, Duncan! I'm thrilled with the fundraising progress so far and really appreciate how much support everyone has shown.

Hey, what about my contribution? Certainly that should shame others into giving, eh?

If any of you are Facebook users, please put Friday's happy hour on your calendar: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=6371116713

I just got interviewed by WCHL about the birthday, so tune in and let me know if you hear it.

UPDATE: Here's the story.

Are folks planning to come earlier or later? I'm going to try to swing by after 7pm.

We will be giving away a DOOR PRIZE today! It's an autographed copy of "Would you buy a used cartoon from this Man?" - a collection of editorial cartoons by John Branch who worked for the Chapel Hill News the 1970's. I might give the prize to the first person who shows up and mentions the door prize, since I'll know you are a true OP junky if you are checking the comments one last time before heading out. ;-)

Unfortunately, I will only be there from 5:30 to 7:30 as I have a lot of other obligations. :-( But others may stick around, who knows.

Hey you OP junkies,

We're already 4/5ths of the way there providing the necessary funds for Ruby to update OP. If you haven't already done so how about chipping in now so that we can give Ruby a Halloween present for this great service she provides to the community. Based on the size of the average contribution, it will take only 6 or 7 more users to finish this off. What are you waiting for? - you know it's well worth it!

As you can see in the side bar, we made it! Thanks so much to all of you who contributed. I will be working soon to present a plan of action both to you and to the folks who will be helping me to set up the new site. Stay tuned...

What have I to contribute to OrangePolitics?

When I tote up all the comments, almost 3,000 (if you include the missing early months, roughly %10 of the total) and all the words, well over 350,000 on topics as diverse as “Who is Gregor Samsa?” to our Town's waning progressiveness, the hundreds primary source materials links I've added and the seemingly thousands of hours over 4 years I've spent reading and writing on OrangePolitics, I see an effort to engage our online community in what I thought would evolve into a new Town Commons.

Surely that has worth?

Ruby said that OrangePolitics was conceived as a place for “dedicated activists” to engage in “local issues” and for the wider community to get “information they need to make informed decisions.”

In some ways, and in spite of a growing trend in shaping the discussion for reasons outside that charter, OrangePolitics has succeeded. For those successes, I congratulate Ruby and the wider OP community.

Thank you Ruby. Thank you active and lurking OP'rs.

Part of that success comes from folks that the owner of this site tolerates – barely.

Ownership, of course, is the key differential between what is and what could have been.

I poured my efforts into OrangePolitics, spent all that time, did all that research, took all the “slings and arrows” because I believe our community needed an open platform for debating, discussing and deciding on the key issues of the day.

I've fought for the right of folks that disagree with and, quite frankly, don't like me, to post on OP because I think the best solutions come from the widest representation.

When Paul, Fred, Terri or any of a number of others got chastised by the “powers that be”, I rose to their defense. When OP became a forum for attacking my character over attacking my message – well, I tried to ignore that excess and steer the conversation back to what was relevant.

The value of the Town Commons is that no one person controls the space - in fact, it is a set of community standards and laws that manage its workings.

OrangePolitics is not a public square. Though I've lobbied Ruby for four years, it hasn't evolved into a town commons. It has been and will probably always be Ruby's private domain – a domain that is less welcoming, more and more invitation only.

I want to be clear on this: Ruby owns OrangePolitics. Ruby is free to ignore her own rules, to shape discussion however she sees fit, because she is the master of this domain.

And that is fine by me.

What isn't fine is the continued representation that OrangePolitics is an open forum so “people like us can actually make a difference”. It is not.

It is a wholly-owned enterprise of folks that have become more inclined towards buttressing the establishment than in discussion or debate that will “rock the boat”.

How can I say that? Surely I'm the counter-example to that assertion. I've been given opportunities – even with this post – to present my opinions.

I've had my part in building Ruby's “brand”, in developing the product that advances her career but I knew, as far as folks getting in “the boat”, well, the “us” Ruby referred to didn't include me and many others in our community – not from the beginning, not now, pretty much not ever.

That was acceptable as long as I could participate in an open and honest forum. I imagine others felt similarly.

Unfortunately, my role here has become that of the “beard”. “Look how tolerant OP is, they even let folks like WillR post!”

Real change can't spring from these faulty foundations and I can no longer serve as a “set piece”, an enabler, for folks that are not willing to alter course.

If there is one small legacy I leave to OP, one small lesson to be learned from my four years, it is passionate, honest and open engagement is fundamental to progress .

I don't give up easily. I'm loathe to disengage from the local debate, even on a forum I've grown to distrust, but that is what I must do. There are other more productive forums to engage my energies.

Why the day before the election?

Though you could say I'm voting with my feet, this is about Citizen Will and not Candidate Will or even Councilmember Will.

And though the last few months of posts – starting with Tom's bullying approach on my possible run until the latest chorus bashing the messenger over the message – underscored my concern, it wasn't enough to drive me from OP's folds.

Those trends were troublesome , even tiresome, but I'm a big guy, ready for the rough and tumble of challenging OP's friends. They were not sufficient for me to cast my final vote of “no confidence”.

No, it was the steady accretion of issues over the last year, like the recent rejection of Terri's, Fred's and Mark's concerns on grounds that the topic was “boring” or to divisive (I'll little miss that refrain), the tumbling slant towards a particular power-base, a growing disingenuous by some guest authors that finally took its toll.

With a growing intolerance, the manipulation of the discussion, the use as a surrogate outlet for folks not willing to engage directly in debate, OP was losing what value it had for me as a forum for substantive multi-log.

The reason I'm leaving OP, then, is fairly simple. OP, at least as it's currently constituted, is not a forum for progressive change in our community.

I'm not going away. I still have CitizenWill. I'll still post on STP. And I'll be looking for a new community forum - a forum that learns from OP's mistakes, a forum that shows the potential to grow into that new Chapel Hill public commons.

Good luck OrangePolitics. Reform is in order and I truly hope that the promise of 2003 becomes the reality of 2008.

Four years, a handful of posts, thousands of comments, hundreds of thousands words and it has come to this, my last word on OP – farewell.

Will, your absence will greatly greatly diminish this forum.

Melanie, you are right, some things do change. In fact, I think many of you will like the "new" OP that we just finished fundraising for. It's my hope that it will allow for a wider range of perspectives while still letting people focus on the topics and types of conversations they prefer. My goal is to launch the new site by January.

Of course I respect your decision if (like Will) you choose not to hang out here, and I strongly encourage all of you (as I encouraged Will years ago) to start your own blogs. It's not like we are limited to only reading or only writing on one website. Why let anyone else be your filter when you have something important to say?

So long, Will, courageous old boy! Farewell...

Will--

I understand why you are leaving. It's a loss to us all. There's a reason I've all but quit posting here...and the "other" forum. Sad, but things change.

Melanie

...and just when I'd begun to dip my toe! Will, I sincerely hope you'll reconsider. If not, I agree - you will be missed. But I'll 'see' you on the other forums. And elsewhere. Good luck.

 

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