KingstonCitizens.org: Where We’re Going, Where We’ve Been

By Rebecca Martin

This morning, KingstonCitizens.org was mentioned in Nancy Donskoj’s Main Street Manager blog. It was nice that some of the other blog efforts were being shared with her base. Thanks to all who do so much to help with outreach and community building mentioned here or not.

The piece got me thinking about KC.org in general and  how it all began, transitions, where we are now and where I believe we are heading.

KingstonCitizens.org  was an extension of a concept that came out of the Ward 9 community group that formed many years ago.  Our group met face to face each month which helped us to get to know one another and the strength of our voices and ideas.  A google group (now a Yahoo! Group) for online and ongoing communications allowed our dialouge to continue until we met again. This was an immediate tool that helped foster transparency, as our ideas were shared with a growing group of neighbors in the company of our Alderman. An Alderman, remember, is meant to reflect the collective voices (and not just those who live to their left and right) of his/her constituents when they sit on the common council to vote on their behalf. The idea was to enable citizens to become better informed to aid in that process so to make the greatest impact. Besides witnessing the new excitement and sense of possibility in my new friends and community members,  it was also a very large experiment to see if government actually did what it professed to do. What I learned from a front row seat was that at times it did, though more often it did not. It was evidence that citizens needed to take on a reasonably consistent and a more responsible role in what was happening around them.  That is if there was ever going to be a time for what was completely outdated and out of whack to come back to a current and balanced place again.

I like getting to the bottom of things no matter how difficult or uncomfortable that may be.  It’s a personality trait that embodies Mt. Everest highs and Dante’s Inferno lows.  But I don’t mind.  There is no end to unraveling a lifetime of experiences to get back to an authentic place and in learning from the cues to be more trusting, accepting and simple.

But I digress. Back on point.

The online Ward 9 Community group was a useful tool, so with the help of Beth Bengston-Gillis, Mark Greene and Arthur Zaczkiewicz, KingstonCitizens.org was launched on July 4th, 2007.  Back then, it was an HTML site. Remember those?  It was created years before we had heard of Wordpress or Ning and whatever else has come along since. Mark Greene had designed the most beautiful logo and ‘portal’  that allowed citizens to connect to any of the  nine online Yahoo! groups representing each of our nine wards. In that way, we were able to provide a current and organized place for citizens to gather, discuss and take productive action in their immediate neighborhoods.  Their updated Alderman and ward-centric information was posted at each of the group pages as it still is today.

A year or so later with the discovery of Wordpress, we joined the ranks when veteran journalist and my partner in the effort at that time Arthur Zaczkiewicz decided to write a blog as an extension of KingstonCitizens.org and to help fill in some of the blanks that indeed needed filling.

Today, our blog remains a useful tool for all Kingston citizens, public officials and local papers alike. It has never been our aim to ‘break stories’ or to participate in taking a stance on any political platform. We intend to find ways to nurture those who came on board long ago while collecting newly energized citizen voices to share their views and ideas with us all to keep the forward momentum.    We wish to grow our effort as a citizen journalism site and we would love it if you would join us.   All you really need to bring to the table is your willingness to share in the same spirit as is KC.org.

I’ll be happy to get your on your way.

Contact me at rebbytunes at earthlink.net

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