Sunday, March 30, 2008

Merry Oaks communications: a quick guide

Here's a quick guide on the various ways that Merry Oaks neighbors talk with each other online. It's for newcomers, old timers and anyone who wants more clarity and transparency on our current ways of communicating. It might be edited over time as I talk with others. Please feel free to share your ideas in comments.

The Google group:
The neighborhood association has had a Google group for awhile with a couple of moderators. The discussions are widely read by at least one city council representative and one county commission representative, as well as a law enforcement representative. It's moderated by a couple of different people. You can post pages and documents there as well, though we haven't gone that far with it yet. The Commonwealth Park Neighborhood Association has used their Google group for the posting of files (including police "mugshots" of people working the streets in their neighborhood). This is the most active and quick way to communicate with each other; just remember you're broadcasting to a large audience of elected officials, police and perhaps potential home buyers and real estate folks. I have not seen any ads there; if there were any, the revenue would go to Google.

Neighborhood Link:
This is a free long-standing website initially funded by a private company in partnership with Mecklenburg County or the city (I can't remember which, it's been so long). It's part of a network that provides the websites to neighborhood groups. It has excellent reference material about local government, schools and other neighborhood associations, as well as a discussion area and PDF documents of current and old newsletters. Those newsletters include contact information for all the current neighborhood association board members. The site requires a Neighborhood Link signon to participate in discussions. It has no ads. It has ads, and it's unclear where the revenue goes -- not the neighborhood association.

Under Oak blog:
That's where you are now. This is a personal blog, run by me, a board member of the neighborhood association. It is not an official vehicle of the neighborhood association. In that respect, it's similar to Under the Water Tower in Elizabeth. That neighborhood has an official website, and that blog is a personal endeavor by a resident of that neighborhood. Under Oak has no ads.

Facebook Neighborhoods application: This is the newest way I know of. Eight people are now members of the Facebook Merry Oaks neighborhood -- for the longest time, I knew of only three. This method seems to have potential for posting event information and meeting new people. It's free, but any ad revenue goes to Facebook.

All these methods might be a bit confusing. My point of view: It's good to have a variety of ways to talk with each other, though we all need to continue to work on being transparent so that people know how to use these ways to communicate well. In addition, I suspect that the folks running these various communication methods would love to have help.

To quote a co-worker recently: "Where there's no logic, there is history." In some cases, these methods evolved because neighbors didn't want to share their email addresses publicly, or wanted to be able to comment anonymously. As tech tools and the neighborhood evolve, I'm sure we can continue to improve.

And of course, there's always a chat along the sidewalk. Sometimes, that's the best way.

Thoughts? Let me (Andria) know at akrewson45c AT mac DOT com.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Comment moderation and legal stuff

Under Oak now has comment moderation turned on. If you leave a comment, I'll need to review it before it's posted online. Apologies for any future delays, but I'll try to be prompt.
Previously, comment moderation was off, so I missed seeing some of your comments until much later. This way, I'll get to see immediately what people are saying, and I'll have a little more protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Comments have not been a problem in the past, and Merry Oaks is enjoying a peaceful, quiet time of community building with active parent play groups and a lovely spring. However, nearby neighborhoods sometimes share information about battles that might involve lawyers. Community news resources are lucky to have free, online legal references like those available at the Berkman Center from Harvard. I highly recommend that other newsy neighborhood blogs check the information there.
In addition, we have positive, solutions-oriented neighbors and brains in our head, to quote Dr. Seuss. I'm sure he would approve.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Charlotte East meets tonight

Charlotte East Community Partners meets tonight in Citiside.

Edited details directly from an email from President Darrell Bonapart:

This is a reminder of the meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 18th at the Citiside Community Clubhouse (6:30pm - 8:00pm) on Plaza Walk Road. The community is located behind the Bi-Lo grocery store shopping center which is at the corner of Eastway Drive and The Plaza Road. Entrance to the community is right next to the Bi-Lo Shopping Center by way of The Plaza Road. You would be turning onto Plaza Walk Rd which dead ends directly to the front door of the Community Clubhouse. Extremely important information will be shared regarding issues affecting our area. If you or your community or business is ready to join the Charlotte East Community Partners, please bring your dues payment with you to the meeting. For individuals, the amount is $10 and it is $25 for Neighborhood Associations and Businesses. We need you all to become financial members to assist us in our efforts to protect our communities and businesses. A report will be provided to financial members at our April meeting. All communities and businesses between Monroe Road and The Plaza Road are with whom we want to establish a partnership.

Agenda is as follows:

Introduction of Communities
Introduction of Political Candidates
Park and Rec Presentation
Independence Blvd Rally Update
Coventry Woods Lawsuit update
Candidate Forums Hosted by CECP and EPAC
Membership Campaign
Tracking Zoning Permits along with issue of Back Zoning to bring properties up to date.
Annual Black Tie Gala
Coalition of Communities Project

Darrell Bonapart
President, Charlotte East Community Partners
704-890-2771 (cell)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Car, bus or bicycle?

A picture is worth more than a thousand words.

Related: Can someone please get a "Bike lane ends" sign put up on Central Avenue inbound before the intersection of Central with Merry Oaks Road? I worry a biker is going to get hit where the bike lane abruptly stops.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Coventry Woods does take prisoners

An email from a friend in the Eastside neighborhood of Coventry Woods, which is continuing its zoning battle against the developers of Independence Woods:

"There is talk in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, that the Coventry Woods Neighborhood Association 'does not take prisoners.'
... I can assure you that this is incorrect.
We eat them."

Attached to the email is a copy of a court action filed by the neighborhood association on March 11 against the City of Charlotte, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission and Independence Capital Realty LLC.

The action seeks to "determine the validity of the City of Charlotte's subdivision ordinance appeal process, and the validity of the preliminary plat approval for Independence Woods subdivision."

The action also seeks a declaration that the subdivision ordinance unlawful and that the preliminary plan approval for Independence Woods is invalid. It also seeks a preliminary injunction prohibiting Independence Woods from further construction, and demands a jury trial.

And here.