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This grass has cyber-roots

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The revolution began with a click. For those who believe all those stereotypes about Internet chat rooms making the world a less personal place, an abject lesson can be learned from one group of local cyber-geeks.

That’s because Internet-savvy residents of Bay Ridge are now witnessing a new form of community activism, as a group of locals on the popular chat site Bayridgetalk.com site have punched through the gray world of HTML-coded anonymity and transformed themselves into real world tool of change.

It all began like it usually does in the word of bloggers — with a complaint.

In this case the post involved a suspected crackhouse, allegedly located on 93rd Street between Third and Fourth avenues.

Like most things in the blogosphere, the allegations were long on hyperbole but short on details.

“I live two blocks down from this crackhouse,” said poster Concerned Mom. “Bay Ridge is a very nice neighborhood, and I would like to see it stay that way. Does anyone have any suggestions of things we can do?”

This post quickly became a magnet for other residents — who until that time were strangers to each other — with similar concerns about the house.

Those familiar with the Internet know what happened next: complaints, complaints, and more complaints. But instead, this time something truly revolutionary happened.

Quicker than you can type “LOL,” the fantasy relationship of the online chat room mobilized into a real world plan to push the community into action.

“Both CB10 and the 68th Precinct hold monthly public meetings,” posted one regular BRT PetShopBoy. “We need to organize a group, get on the agenda, show up and get it on the record.”

This wasn’t just a case of cyber-bluster: the plan was quickly in motion. A handful of the online complainers left their keyboards behind and showed up in the flesh at the last Community Board 10 meeting. They have also been contacting local pols and have gotten on the radar of the 68th Precinct (and the press, though I suppose that’s obvious).

In other words, they have effectively made it an issue. This isn’t to mean that the group will have success or that the crackhouse (or whatever it is) will be shut down, but it is notable in another important aspect.

Of course, there is nothing new about online activism. Blogs like Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn have been mobilizing residents against hot button issues since Al Gore invented the Internet.

But what is new is that this was a group of strangers who discovered a problem, discussed it in a chat room, and got it on the community agenda.

I’ll update you down the road to see if the Community Board or the local cops fix the problem at the alleged crackhouse, but as far as this reporter is concerned, the cyber-surfers have already scored their first success:

Now, has anyone seen that crazy monkey that can bake cherry pies on YouTube? It is truly amazing.

Matthew Lysiak is a writer who lives in Bay Ridge.

The Kitchen Sink

Sign of the times? Residents better hope not. A large sign on 95th Street proudly instructs drivers that they are on Fifth Avenue — the only problem, as our astute source pointed out, is that the Fifth Avenue sign was installed on Fourth Avenue! …

House Party! Snacks and drinks were in heavy supply as local supporters of Rudy Giuliani gathered around a big monitor at a 92nd Street home to speak to their presidential candidate of choice live via Web cast last Wednesday. Dung-covered Virgin Marys were not invited. …

Take that, Mahmoud! Days after Iranian President Ahmadinejad made headlines for trying to visit Ground Zero and giving a speech at Columbia University during his trip to New York for a United Nations session, Rep. Vito Fossella (R–Bay Ridge) announced he would introduce legislation to outlaw leaders “of any country classified by the State Department as a sponsor of terrorism” from leaving participating in any event outside the United Nations. The bill, according to Fossella’s press release, “would also restrict the leader’s movement only between the airport, his county’s mission, his hotel and the UN headquarters.” Nice idea, but couldn’t the Iranian president simply have booked a room at the Millenium Hilton, across the street from Ground Zero? …

Maybe we’re idiots (please, hold your applause), but The Sink can’t figure out how the register line works at the Paneantico Bakery Café on Third Avenue near 91st Street. Last Sunday, we were waiting in what we thought was a line at the popular café when customers began ordering from our left, right and even from behind us. And all we wanted was a croissant!

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Reader Feedback

Michael says:
Rep. Fossella's proposal is a bit unclear and unneccessary. Don't get me wrong, I find Mr. Ahmadinejad rather offensive and actually pretty confusing, however I don't see what purpose this legislation would serve.
The Iranian president's visit could have been an opportunity to engage the man and attempt a dialouge with the representative of a country with whom we seem to be very interested at the moment. Allowing him free movement in the city would give him an oppurtunity to see our people and feel better understand how we opperate - and maybe to dispel false assumptions about the U.S. which exist in many parts of the world.
Limiting his movement, or the movement of others serves no purpose. It does not increase security, it only sends a hostile message from the very begining. Furthermore who is to decide which leaders are terrorists and which are not?
I for one would love for Mr. Ahmadinejad and others like him to see communities like bay ridge, where real american values like tolerance, equality, and freedom are alive and well. I don't want to give others the impression that we live in state where everything is over-regulated without clear deffinition or purpose.
Sept. 28, 2007, 9:50 am
Mark says:
"This grass has cyber-roots" correction:

Al Gore didn't invent the internet.
If you want to know the truth, search for "who invented the internet"
Sept. 29, 2007, 3:07 pm
Dog Person Anyway says:
Don't believe anything you read on the Internet: No matter what lies you might find out there, I'm confident Al Gore invented it.
Sept. 29, 2007, 7:48 pm

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