There have been clandestine meetings, plots hatched, and futures debated. Most importantly, there have been several moments in which I had to choose the next step.
This is the choice I make: This year, 2007, there will be 4 major updates to the Forgotten-Roanoke website. Quarterly, the site will be upgraded and updated. The first change is in the works for Mid-February, and it includes a new site design - navigation - and a better UI/UE (user interface/user experience). Should I be able to push through some small changes between the quarters, then so be it. As it is this year is looking exceptionally busy and not at all normal.
The main reason for this is the City's 125th Anniversary, which I (of course) want to capitalize on, but the real keystone for me this year is looking towards the next 25 years. How will we celebrate the city's 150th? Will there be anyone left but geriatric baby-boomers and the medical support staff needed to bathe and clean them? At the rate the city is going, that's not totally out of the question.
Which is why I am announcing the reformation of the SCBA - The Star City Bloggers Alliance. The visionary voice of Roanoke is being lost, and there are those who thank G-d for that.
Dan Radmacher sent out a call for columnists in Sunday's Times. And as tempting an offer as that is, to write and subvert from the inside - I have to say "Thanks Dan, but not now."
The Times is losing readership, people are turning more and more to various and independent sources of news. Plus, I know I don't have time to read the paper in the morning, but can always find a minute or two to check the headlines online. A columnist position with the Times puts one in the unenviable position of actually having to do this for a living. Or at least for the "audience that makes those of any but the biggest national blogs pale in comparison."
As a blogger, I am not looking for the largest audience - what I want is the most motivated audience. I want an audience aggressively seeking news, seeking out those voices in the night - the dangerous revolutionaries with no name. And writing for a major publication does not do that justice, in my eyes.
With that being said, writing for a small one, a counter-to-the-tradition one might suit me, should an opportunity ever arise. (wink wink nudge nudge - what? am I being too obvious about wanting a 2nd newspaper in Roanoke?)
But this year, 2007 will be the year of RoanokeFound. Along with Stuart Mease, I am putting forth a call echoed in the pages of (of all places) The Roanoker Magazine. Where are the visionaries of tomorrow, our leaders to replace those who fail to lead? There is an election next year, 4 seats up for grab on the city council - and who will fill them? Much like the current presidential race, no decent candidates have stepped forth. The current climate has thoroughly quashed the dreams in the eyes of young Roanokers. Working as a team, with the intention to revive the entire point of the Star on Mill Mountain.
That Star, our very own piece of ticky-tacky and the love of our lives, was built because the local downtown businesses wanted to attract MORE business. It's advertisement, it's art, and it's like nothing else anywhere. There might be larger man-made stars in the world, but none with the meaning of the Roanoke Star. The entire point of it was to lure people downtown, "shop-eat-play and see the Star that made Roanoke famous." Take Williamson Rd. for example - along nearly it's entire right of way, one can see the Star clearly.
The Star represented something, be it an increased amount of foot traffic as people came into Downtown Roanoke to shop and see it, or the idea that nothing is totally out of reach in Roanoke - even the Stars themselves.
The population of Roanoke now is less than when the Star was lit, which is a crime. And populous of Roanoke is seemingly also less, less connected - less caring about its own future, less of a city. Should a group bring the concept to build something similar to the Star today - it would not happen.
It takes a pile of bricks that take us back to childhood memories (where things are always rosy) to awaken the civic passion within us. And even that is fruitless.
It's time for Roanoke to be found again, for the Star City to shine again, for the future of Roanoke to come forth, and dream large.
On the eve of the 125th Anniversary, we here at Forgotten-Roanoke.com choose to look forward, to the future of Roanoke.
We will continue the historical perspective that provides us with a clear map to where we were, are, and with any luck - where we will go.
It's going to be a very interesting year...