The university where I work is located on the edge of a neighborhood called Gert Town. Back when I lived Uptown, I used to ride my bike through Gert Town every day. Some people said I was crazy to do this. Gert Town is an economically depressed neighborhood populated almost exclusively by African Americans. I stood out like a sore thumb, but I was only harassed occasionally (“Hey white boy!”) and I never felt genuinely threatened.

For a while the local Greens had an office in a warehouse in Gert Town, but no longer. Since we moved to Mid-City, I’ve had little occasion to venture past the main campus and into Gert Town, except to go to the university’s new Art Village. But the neighborhood is still very much on my mind. It has a fascinating history, but it’s also clearly in a state of crisis. A variety of faculty that I work with are engaged in various projects such as collecting oral histories in the neighborhood. Last summer Xy did some volunteer work at the Gert Town Family Center.

All of which I mention as context.

Yesterday morning I went to the Gert Town Family Center myself for the first time and met Sharon Alexis. We talked about getting a website going for them. In thinking about this idea in advance, I’d come to the conclusion that what they really needed was a blog. Blogs make web publishing easy, even for people who don’t have any web authoring experience. I think it’s the perfect model for a community-based organization like this.

So she told me about the many, many things going on at the Center, and then we talked about blogs, web hosting, domain names and the like.

It turns out that gerttown.com is already owned by GNO Communications. They’ve had it for five years but aren’t doing anything with it. They’ve also registered lots of other local neighborhood names. Maybe they have legitimate plans, but it looks like cybersquatting to me. Who knows? Maybe they’ll give it up for a good cause. If not, there are plenty of other names available.

I wanted to show her Blogger, but it seems they get their internet connection via the Archdiocese of New Orleans, since they are a Catholic Charities program — and their filter is blocking blogspot.com. Huh. How do you like that? Just like China.

But one way or another I think this is gonna happen, and it strikes me that blogs are particularly well-suited to community-based organizations.

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